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.
PRO MEAL PLANNING TIP FOUR : Be Consistent
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!