How to Simplify Meal Planning: 6 Tips from PlateJoy

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Hectic schedules can mean fewer home-cooked meals than we might like. But cooking at home is one of the healthiest things you can do for your body; unlike grabbing takeout, it allows you to be in control of what comes into your system—including additives like sugar, salt and processed oils—and has been regularly linked to weight loss.

So how can you still cook at home and save time? Here are a few easy ways to make it happen (and allow you to feel super satisfied instead of super stressed).

Try a meal planning app

Instead of spending hours searching the internet or cookbooks for recipes that meet your healthy goals, meal planning apps like PlateJoy do all the work for you. Take the quiz about your tastes, weight loss goals, time constraints, and much more. Then you’ll get personalized recipes each week, tailored to your goals. Best of all, there’s a shopping list for each week, so you never have to make one again. (Bonus: You can get $10 off your membership with the code HEALTHYWAGE)

Outsmart the shopping crowds

Shopping during off-peak hours is a no-brainer … but how do you know what times are off-peak? Google’s “popular times” feature has your back. Search for your favorite local store and you’ll see what hours to avoid, so you can breeze through the aisles instead of waiting in line. Too busy to shop? Delivery services like Instacart will bring all your groceries to your door, the very same day.

Organize your cart

If you are going shopping, you can save even more time by sort your groceries at the store. Grouping items in your cart and on the checkout belt (for example: pantry items, refrigerated vegetables, vegetables and fruit to remain out of the fridge, spices, condiments, dairy) will make the process of putting them away so much quicker, which means more time to get down to culinary business and back to the rest of your life!

Prep produce in advance

When you get home, you’re already in food mode, so don’t put groceries away just yet. Save some prep time by washing and chopping your produce right away. Everything will keep in the crisper and those saved minutes of chopping will quickly add up when you’re cooking on busy weeknights.

Cook in batches

A little investment in time now can save a lot of time down the road. Spending a couple of hours all at once – say, on a weekend afternoon – means you’ll be set up for meals and side dishes all week. Cook on multiple burners, prepping things like a pot of quinoa or rice and steamed broccoli, kale or carrots at the same time. All of these are easy to reheat and will store for several days in the fridge.

Clean as you go

What’s the least fun part about cooking? Cleaning up when you’re done. (We get it.) If you make a point to tidy as you go – putting away a cutting board when you no longer need it, washing a pot here, or putting utensils in the dishwasher there – you’ll find your mess at the end is much smaller. You may also wish to keep a compost bowl on the counter for scraps and station a trash can nearby for everything else so you’ll save steps back and forth and easily be able to tidy your space as you work.


WIN one of two 6-month subscriptions to Platejoy’s healthy meal planning service!

Meal planning and prepping is an easy way to make sure you are sticking to your healthy eating goals! We want to see how you plan and/or prep. Snap a picture of your kitchen work and post it to either Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #HealthyWageHealthyWeek and tag both @healthywage and @platejoy. We’ll randomly select the 2 winners on Friday, August 4th, so make sure you post your photo before then to be in the running!

Kate Miller
Kate Miller

Kate Miller, mom of 5, is on a mission to stay fit and healthy. As HealthyWage's Community Manager, she's fortunate to be surrounded by inspiring success stories day after day. Although she does get paid by HealthyWage, she is an independent mom blogger who works with HealthyWage because she thinks it is an incredible weight loss tool. In 2012, Kate lost 50 pounds and documented most of her journey right here on the HealthyWage blog. Since then, she's had to learn the subtle intricacies of staying on track by mastering the daily ebb and flow (and parties and holidays and periods of extreme laziness) of life.

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