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6 Easy Meal Planning Pro Tips to Get Your Free Time BACK!

There’s nothing worse than trying to fit meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking into your busy life. Talk about adding some more stress to our many spinning plates! Read to the end for a freebie from Hope Wellness to help!

4 things that can hurt us when eating out instead of planning are:

#1 – Buying meals out can be incredibly costly.

The average American spends $3,600 per year or $300 per month just eating out. Depending on where you live and what type of food you’re eating, it could be much higher. Additionally, if you’re purchasing for a family that number is astronomically higher.

#2 – You may go with what you’re craving in the moment and not make a good choice.

Menu’s often have a large list if things to choose from. Depending on what you’re craving and what sounds good when reading through menu items, you might just make a choice you wouldn’t have made otherwise.

#3 – Even healthy choices eating out can have hidden consequences.

It can definitely add up if you’re eating out frequently, particularly when you’re doing so multiple times per week. Even getting some “healthy” meals such as salmon, veggies, and brown rice can include inflammatory oils, high sodium, and hidden saturated fats, colors, or preservatives.

#4 – Not listening to our bodies and overeating large portions

Sometimes we eat more because we are served larger portions at certain establishments. We may feel inclined to eat the entire plate regardless of our hunger cues.

So…What can be done?

It’s unrealistic to say meal planning will mean you never eat out. There are life events, busier than normal days, and getting together with friends. However, planning helps us to minimize eating out to just when those things come up.

Here are 6 easy meal planning tips:

#1 – Schedule a time in your calendar that works for you to plan your meals for the week. Treat that time as an appointment (after all, you wouldn’t skip your appointment with ME, would you?!). The day or time for this might be different depending on your schedule, BUT making sure you have a date with yourself to plan will make sure it gets done.

This will save you from opening the fridge with no idea what you’ll eat (so you pick random stuff) and you’ll save money eating at home instead. That’s approximately $7-10 per person, per meal, so a family of 4 can save up to $40 PER MEAL. That’s over $2,000 per year with eating out one less meal per week for a year.

#2 – Plan for Eating Out.

Use a Meal Planning Sheet or Software to plan your meals out as well (read to the end…hint, hint). If you know when you’re planning that you have plans with friends Friday and a late work day Monday, put “OUT” on the calendar so you know you don’t have to plan a meal then. You can even go a step further and pre-pick the restaurant and/or meal you will order and write it in your plan. Hey, we all know things come up or plans change last minute, that happens and you shouldn’t feel badly about that. This process just helps you to make it happen less often….because you’re prepared!

#3 – Plan for Leftovers.

Making double or triple the number of servings in the recipe will allow for leftovers. You can plan to use this as an easy way to pack lunch the next day or for an easy, reheat dinner the next night AND you’re cooking half as often.

#4 – Good Knife Skills Will Speed Meal Prep

The first part of this battle is having a good quality knife. Target and Walmart knives are NOT going to cut it as they tend to dull quickly. You need something way better than that AND you need a honing device (affiliate link). Even just having one nice 8-inch Chef’s knife from a good company like Wüsthof (affiliate link) will make the difference.

Hone your knife every few uses to make sure it stays sharp. In case you’re wondering, honing just refers to straightening the steel back out so it is less dull. True knife sharpening is actually a different thing and you can take your knives every couple of years to a professional to sharpen them for you.

Next, you need to know how to use a knife properly. YES, there are right and wrong ways to use a knife and you may not even know you’re doing it wrong. Using a knife incorrectly can make you extremely inefficient in the kitchen and may cause injury. I prefer the speedy benefit of using it correctly. It takes some practice, but doesn’t everything? If you feel like you’re a slow chopper, you can and will fix that!

If you’re on my mailing list, look for a future event for an Online Knife Skills Cooking Class!

#5 Pre-Prep Your Food Before Cooking to Save Time

This doesn’t mean days in advance, although you can do that. It means, don’t chop one thing and cook a little and try to be chopping or prepping something else while cooking at the same time. That’s SUPER inefficient and it increases the probability that you’ll burn something or miss important steps that may impact your final product.

The French call pre-prepping everything before cooking “Mise en Place.” It translates to the word “establishment” and basically means that you’re going to establish the foundation of your meal before cooking. Pre-chop, shred, tear, wash, etc. Also, use prep dishes to measure out ingredients you’ll use beforehand…even things like dried parsley or oregano. This allows you to just drop the ingredient in at the right moment without measuring while you’re cooking. It’s so much easier, more efficient and reduces mistakes in the kitchen.

#6 Hope Wellness Clients Get Special Privileges to Save HUGE on Time AND Money

Lastly, if you’re a current membership or package client with Hope Wellness you have the unique opportunity to have meal planning, list making and shopping done for you saving HOURS of time doing any of those things.

Clients have their own customized “nutrition prescription” made for them based on goals, avoidances, etc. and it automatically creates a meal plan complete with recipes. Don’t like something? Swap it out. Eating out? Clear the meal or use your geolocation to add your “out” meal.

Then just add the meals the shopping cart and transfer to your local shopping app like Amazon Fresh or Instacart and schedule pick up or delivery. You can even scale the meals for leftovers.

This is HOURS saved.

If you’ve been wondering about personalized nutrition consultation and how it can help you, click here to apply for your complimentary discovery call. Becoming a member or a package client will include this amazing meal planning tool.

Free Meal Prep Download

It’s time for what I promised you! If in the meantime you don’t have access to this super cool tool with Hope Wellness, take advantage of this awesome free download. Post it to your fridge and write down your meals or “OUT” days for the week and start planning today.

For future information about news, events and services join the Hope Wellness mailing list. Don’t worry, I’m not super spammy. I hate that too.

Have a question or blog topic you’d like me to cover? Contact me and let me know!

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Autumn is the Founder and CEO of HopeWella Nutrition in Los Angeles, California. Featured in publications, podcasts and documentaries, such as Eat Play Diet, she is well-known in and around Southern California as a nutritional specialist in the areas if Digestive Health, Hormone Balance, Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, Nutritional Genetics and Metabolic Health.

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