Toronto Chef | Blogger | Television Food Expert

Toronto Chef | Blogger | Television Food Expert

Meal Planning 101 : Part One

This may come as a shock, but the first step in meal planning has NOTHING to do with food or cooking. Yes, a post titled “Meal Planning 101” has nothing to do with food, and the following meal planning posts (stay tuned) won’t either.

As someone who has been cooking for over 10 years, I can PROMISE YOU there’s more to meal planning than sitting down and picking recipes for the week- no. Meal Planning is a practice, something that you commit to, a process that fosters success; otherwise it’s not worth the effort.

Seriously. If you are going to half ass your way through this, don’t bother, the energy and the effort will have been wasted. I love you enough to give it to you straight.

So today we are going to talk about the FUNDAMENTAL first steps of meal planning- the steps that almost everyone skips. 

So before you ORDER ANY GROCERIES, it’s time to roll up your sleeves babe, because it’s time to clean.

SIDE NOTE: I once operated a cleaning business, so I actually like cleaning; regardless of your affinity for cleaning, this step cannot be skipped. 

  • PRO MEAL PLANNING TIP ONE: Clean and Organize Pantry and Refrigerator

I’ll never understand why people keep the last dredges of a sauce in the refrigerator for who knows how long, convinced they’ll eventually use it. They won’t. You won’t. Nobody ever does. So here is the rule, if it’s old, a mystery or there is an inch left, throw it away. 

I want you to take the same “take no prisoners” attitude and turn it toward your utensils drawer. If it’s broken, you don’t know how to use it, or you haven’t used it over a calendar year, toss or donate. At the very least store it out of the way.

If you want to shut down this effort out of the gate, attempt to meal plan and prepare food in a cluttered space. If you find success with this method, call me back…

  • PRO MEAL PLANNING TIP TWO: Organize your workspace

Much time is wasted going back and forth to grab items needed to prep, and the amount of time spent faffing around going back and forth to get things adds up. PRO TIP organize your workspace so that everything is within arms reach, this will save you a decent amount of time in the long run.

EXAMPLE: if you are standing in one spot you should be able to reach bowls, cutting boards, knives, spoons, etc. All the items you require to prepare your meals should be within reach without having to take a step.

  • PRO MEAL PLANNING TIP THREE: Store food in clear storage containers

I cannot tell you how many times I have gone into someone’s home as a private chef and found 5 quinoa bags (seriously) or 4 peanut butters; this is not only a complete waste of space BUT incredibly wasteful.

The solution? Go through and audit what you have and create a storage system that revolves around clear storage containers- I prefer glass. This ensures you can easily see what you have and prevent multiple purchasing of dry goods. If things come in packaging, remove if from the packaging. BECAUSE, how many times have you looked in a crowded pantry, you see the box of quinoa (for example) and think, “ oh yeah, there’s quinoa in there”, then when you need said quinoa, you grab the bag and the mother f*cker is empty. It happens too much. Don’t let it happen to you again.


I’d love to say that this is a one time gig, but I’d be lying. This effort requires consistency. Do weekly and monthly audits and cleaning, because it’s easier to maintain than it is to let things fly off the rails again, and the work to bring it back, well… it’s just enough to make you quit. So, yeah, just maintain. Ok? Ok!

Remember what I said about meal planning being a practice? Consistency is where the rubber hits the road.

Ok babes, I think that’s enough to snack on for now. It’s time for you to get cleaning!

What Are Your Meal Planning Struggles? Share in the Comments

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Nina NicholsKristina | Spirit of the SoulMichele DennisVictoriaNidhi fouzdar Recent comment authors
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Love the glass pantry with labels! I have got to do that!


I am often so busy that I don’t meal plan, but I really need to get back to doing that. Especially since I only shop once a month, it would be really helpful!

Monidipa Dutta
Monidipa Dutta

Meal planning is the simple act of taking some time to plan any number of your meals for the week. Plan for yourself or plan for your family. Plan to eat healthy, and plan a night out.

Fatima Torres

I never thought to have the ingredients in clear containers. That would definitely come in handy. Thanks for the tip! 🙂


Wow. What a lovely pantry. I should seriously consider organizing my pantry and using your tips.

Pooja @ PeacefulBanyanTree

Oh I just love the way you organized your pantry with all the labels. It looks so neat and I am sure every time you look at it must be feeling so proud. And on top of that, it radiates calmness 🙂

Laura Dove

Oh wow you are so organised! I am so jealous, I so need to get myself organised like that!

jesusa Gilliam
jesusa Gilliam

I’d love to be as organized as you are! I agree meal prepping takes a lot of dedication but is well worth it at the end and a time saver during the week. Especially a time saver when your running little ones to school then heading to work. Thank you for the tips.

Karen Monica

Wow, you are so organized. To be honest I hardly meal plan but I always make sure the pantry and refrigerator are clean and ingredients are stored in containers

Nidhi fouzdar

Basically I have never done meal planning in life, it all depends on my mood. I think I should plan sometime. Will take some tips from this blog and like to surprise my family.


I am an occasional meal planner and I love how you advise cleaning first. Being organized and making sure everything is cleaned is the key to getting started with meal planning.

Michele Dennis

Loved this! I have been planning on reorganizing my pantry to help streamline my meal planning and this post was perfect timing for me. thank you for the great tips that I will be sure to follow!

Kristina | Spirit of the Soul

Great Tips! Especially to store in clear containers. This is my biggest mistake because always forget what I have available.

Nina Nichols

I always try to organize the fridge and cupboards before we go grocery shopping. This way, I know exactly what stuff we need at home and we don’t buy also the stuff that we still have. It also helps in planning the meals that we will have.