The Loving Cedar, LLC

Simplifying Life Series

simplify life

The focus of this series is to give simple tips and tricks to help ease the hectic life. Simple living creates positive changes in places you can’t even imagine. Those small changes can make a significant impact. Is your baby between the ages of 1 minute to 100,000 minutes, and do you want to create a loving, positive atmosphere for them? Then you are in the right place! 

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Simplifying Life with Meal Planning

The last thing you want to think about at the end of the day is what to make for dinner—and whether you even have the ingredients to make that dinner! Let’s talk about meal planning and prep to help keep daily life simple and your family eating healthy.

Simplifying life: meal planning

Table of Contents

What is Meal Planning?

Meal planning is simply figuring out what meals you are going to make for the week. Pick a day that works best for you to take a moment and plan what you will be making and what ingredients you need. I have found that planning a week out helps me save money, prevent food waste, and be ready for the “go-to” meal that night instead of just ordering out because there was nothing planned. Buying only the groceries I need for the week helps us be able to eat fresh. If I buy once a month in bulk, things will go bad, and I will waste a lot of money and food.

Fresh Herbs

What is Meal Prepping?

In my house, my family won’t eat the fruits and veggies in the fridge if they are not cleaned, cut, and ready to grab as a snack. Finding snack-size containers, taking a few moments to prepare fruits and veggies, and putting them where they are easily accessible is what works for my family.

So how does this all work?

After dinner on Sundays, when we are watching a family show, I have found that I grab a cup of tea, my grocery list pad, my favorite pen, and my meal plan sheet and figure out what the week will look like for dinner. To me, this has become part of my self-care routine (read more on self-care). I feel organized and ready to take on the week. I also ask my family what they want to eat and create healthy, easy, and quick meals that can simply be made on those busy weeknights. I find many of my meals from Pinterest, save the pins, print the recipe out, and have it clipped behind the meal plan sheet. As I see the recipes, I write down the ingredients I need on the grocery list, and then the following day, I order the food I need for the week and pick it up after dropping the kids off at sports if you are like me, going into the store makes me spend more money. I save a ton with grocery pick-up! Don’t forget your reusable shopping bags! There is a bag fee here in Washington State, so I keep my bags in the back of the car.  Side note: I asked the clerk who loads my car if they don’t mind putting groceries into my bags, and he said, “We prefer to use the reusable bags!” Yay!! 

Monday works best for me to prepare all the food for the week while making dinner that night. Fruits and veggies are put in snack containers and ready for lunches or snacks for the week as well. I love silicone containers for storing fruits and veggies. 

Pro Tip:  Use reusable sandwich bags with a flat bottom for easy cleaning.  

Never would I have thought to reuse bags; I still don’t reuse bags like ziplock, but the silicone snack bags and sandwich bags I will reuse because they are easy to clean; if they aren’t easy to clean, I don’t bother keeping them. But I do try to prevent using plastic and having all that extra waste. I mostly just prep my fruits, veggies, and herbs ahead of time. Meat is taken out of the freezer the morning it will be used. If I need to have it marinated, I do that before my morning yoga (read more on time management). 

Meal Prep

How do I even start?

 Start by finding a day that works best for you to plan and prep. I am down to only needing about an hour to prep, which also includes making one of the meals. Planning can take a bit until you get the routine down, but I am usually done in about ½  an hour now.

Living gluten-free in a non-gluten free world?

Don’t fret; it just takes a few extra steps. Plan and prep the same way, but add your specific dietary restriction food to its container. 

When making dinner for the family, for example, a pasta dish, simply boil your pasta separate from the rest of the family’s pasta. 

Having someone in the family needing to eat a specific type of food is not as inconvenient as you would think. I have been making my separate side dishes for years. If I make risotto for my family one night, I use all the same ingredients except rice ( I use riced cauliflower). So I have two skillets out and cooking at the same time. 

What do I need?

I have added links to the containers and tools that make things easy to prep. Amazon has some great finds on containers and cutting boards. I have used several silicone containers and thrown them away because I didn’t like how they cleaned or leaked. Below are the ones I have found that I love and continue to use. I also use the glass bento-style meal containers for leftovers; you can grab and go for lunch the next day.

Super Simple Meal Plan Example:

Simple Meal Planning

Remember to keep it simple!

Not signed up for free emails yet? Sign up today and get your free daily planner bundle and weekly meal plan sheet! Subscribers also get a free recipe of the month! (The recipes in the example are included in the recipe of the month series).


Have more ideas on simplifying life or meal prep? I love to hear from you! Feel free to reach out for any questions or concerns.

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