Hiya Sweet Friend,
Picture this: It’s 5PM, you just got home from work, everyone is hungry (including you) and the fridge is a wasteland of limp lettuce and condiments. What now? Frozen pizza party? Take-out menu roulette? If you’re facing this conundrum more often than not, it’s time to end the madness. And it’s soooo much easier than you think.
In this blog, I’ll walk you through the planning process step-by-step AND give you a super snazzy printable planner. Then it’s up to you to make some magic at the grocery store/farmer’s market and in the kitchen. I know you can do it. Especially with my one-page Crazy Sexy Meal Plan PDF by your side. When you begin planning your meals ahead of time, shopping with a handy list, and cooking with the future in mind, your whole life shifts (mine sure did!). Better time management and prepping skills will help you stay on track and turn your “what-the-hell-do-I-make-for-breakfast-lunch-and-dinner?” stress levels way down.
When you’re the conscious captain in your kitchen, you’ll feel better mentally and physically. That means less garbage (and excuses) and more love in your belly. You feel centered and grounded because you’re ahead of the game at home. Not to mention, it just feels so darn good when you’re feeding yourself and your family (if you’re cooking for more than one) home-cooked whole foods and sending them off with super-fuel leftovers the next morning.
Here’s my recipe for meal planning success:
1. Find recipes. Pull those dusty cookbooks off the shelf a couple times a week and pick out a variety of recipes that you think you and your family will enjoy (I usually choose 3-4 at a time so that my grocery shopping trip covers 4-5 days). A simple Google search for something like, “healthy vegan dinner recipes” will come up with more delicious options than you could ever imagine. Oh, and did I mention my cookbook, Crazy Sexy Kitchen? Wink, wink. Be brave and step out of your comfort zone. If you’re a newbie in the kitchen, you’re going to have to experiment. Don’t fret. You’ll find some go-to, crowd-pleasers in no time. Throw in a new recipe each week to keep you and your family excited about coming to the dinner table.
2. Plan your week. Mostly, I eat simple meals for breakfast (a green juice or smoothie, avo toast, oatmeal with berries, etc.) and leftovers for lunch. Dinner is where the magic happens in the kitchen. Cooking double batches of stews, soups and sauces is a major time saver. A couple times a week, I simply defrost a hearty soup and pair it with a symphonic salad. Voila! The other 4-5 nights, I cook — whether it’s a quick 20-minute meal like my Penne a la Vodka or a more involved recipe from one of my beloved cookbooks. In the interest of not wearing myself out, I plan accordingly, probably cooking every other night — rarely more than two nights in a row.
3. Make a grocery list. Use your meal plan as your guide. After you’ve filled in your whole week (or 3-4 days if you shop twice a week like me), make a list based on the recipes you’ve chosen and of course skip the items you already have in the fridge/cupboard. Often, I already have more than half the ingredients in my kitchen. That’s another awesome part of meal planning and cooking regularly: Your kitchen will soon be well stocked and your grocery bills will shrink.
4. Get cookin’ & prep ingredients ahead of time. Now it’s time to prep and cook. If possible, get ahead of the game over the weekend. Cook a couple meals on Saturday or Sunday and you’ll have a couple weeknight dinners taken care of! Make your evenings even easier by prepping part of your meal ahead of time. Can you throw together the sauce or slice some veggies in the morning? Maybe you need to take that chili out of the freezer so that it’s defrosted just in time for dinner. If your partner gets home a little earlier, can he or she get the rice pasta boiling? Get the whole family involved. Make your kitchen a place for everyone to become a part of the cooking process. Let go of control and let your whipper snapper stir the sauce or measure the ingredients. Shake, stir, break all the rules!
5. Sit down for a mindful meal. Light a candle, turn off the TV, and tune into each other or yourself. Experience the flavors on your plate. Give thanks for the good things that entered your life that day. Pat yourself on the back for putting a nourishing meal together like a pro.
I have always loved food. Having grown up in a different country the process of food preparation (getting the tomatoes, onions, potatoes from the garden, washing all veggies, chopping them up and then the actual cooking of the food) was a very big occasion. It brings back a lot of wonderful childhood memories. Food in some way becomes a spiritual practice and that is why i love it when you say sit down, light a candle and really enjoy and savor the taste of the food you have cooked. That to me is an offering of gratitude. P.S. I love avocado toast, with some sea salt and olive oil…yummy!!!
Yahoooo!!! This is an answer to a prayer ….from last week so God is really good.
I will start my family meal plan today.
Thanks for all the info 🙂
Thanks for all the information you continue to share with us. Please keep it coming. I’m going to put your menu planning to work this week. I’m new to juicing and you have help me learn so much!!!!
Thanks you so much for the meal plan. It will really help with meal planning!
Yeah!!!! Something else for me to draw from. About 2 yrs ago I changed my eating habits, vegetarian/vegan. My husband is so NOT changing his eating habits, being from South Texas. However, it is a daily challenge cooking for the both of us. Oh well life goes on and thank you for all the info you give us.
Beckie – your comment about your husband and his roots made me think of Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Diet – he’s a firefighter from Austin (more central than south, granted) but he knows how to make “manly” plant-based food. Have you seen his book or website?
oh this is interesting. I will look at this Rip Esselstyn’s for my boys (teenagers). They really do not want to eat my food nor to taste any of my veggie cuisine. thank you for sharing.
Hey, thank you, Kris ! Good idea ! You are always offering us something interesting… a reflexion, an idea, a recipe, a pat in the back… Big hug to you and your team !
Thank you so much! I believe that meal planning is the simple yet most ignored part of staying healthy. I agree that keeping it simple works! I also do your idea of having frozen ahead-of-time soups with a hearty salad at least once a week. We do crockpot meals or soups 1-3 times per week…works great for making yams and potatoes that are perfect by dinner. Going to give your chart a try. Thank you Kris 🙂
Thanks Kris , the meal plan is a great tool. BTW Pasta a la Vodka is Ah-mazing!.
Essential for eating well-thy! Unless hosting friends or serving a super perishable, I don’t actually assign days to my meal planner to allow for more moodiness and surprise social eatings. And I play the game of at least one new recipe each time I grocery shop to make it all more fun. I think you’ve an app in the making, don’t you!? Look forward to it!
Along with saving me time and energy, I find that meal planning saves me TONS of money, too. First, I don’t waste the food I buy, but I also don’t buy a lot of extra stuff either.
I used to go to the store every day to buy stuff to make meals, and invariably, I’d buy what I needed to make my meal PLUS a couple of “fun items” like fancy dark chocolate or snacky stuff. That added up to something like 10 “fun items” per week, and LOTS of extra money spent. When I only go to the grocery store once per week, I still get a couple of fun items, but I manage to make them last the whole week.
Another gold nugget!
Kris.. Just found you a few months ago..WOW.. u r a rock star! Several things to share:
Walking with a friend, Nancy with cancer..we talk about you all the time.. u are an inspiration!
The COOLEST PART ABOUT IT… Nancy invited 5 friends to my home and we had a CRAZY SEXY KITCHEN COOKING CLASS to explore your book!! OMGOSH.. we all learned so much together… next time I will incorporate this meal plan into the teaching plan!
Thank you for your dedication to us all!
Love it! Greetings from Sweden
Love this idea! I make a batch of steel cut oats on Sunday in my rice cooker and when done put into containers. Then I put dried cherries and cinnamon in a snack size bag. Leave for work and grab one – easy peasy!
@ Cynthia – steel cut oats in a rice cooker! Genius! Great idea, thanks so much for sharing!
Thank you for the meal planner Kris. I have a question about how to plan if your schedule is crazy. Mornings I can take care of easy, but once the day starts, nothing is set in stone. I’m a computer network engineer and I travel to my client’s sites. Which means one day I will work through lunch and/or dinner – scavenging whatever is in the vending machines for dinner. Another day I may work through the night. Another day I may have planned to eat at home and have made a lunch, but a computer system breaks down and I have to be there ASAP. Another time I have to eat out. And sometimes on my way home, tired, in the evening, drive-thru sounds appealing, just eating in the car. Any suggestions?
This is just the jump start I needed! I have gotten off track with my planning, which means my food intake (and my family’s too) has gotten off track. The good thing is, being off track for the last couple weeks has really shown me how great I feel mentally and physically when I am on track. Thank you for the reminder!
I am glad to see in your plan how often you have green smoothies. I don’t have a juicer (yet) and have green smoothies for breakfast about 3-4 times a week. In the back of my mind, I have been feeling like I would be better off with juice. Seeing your plan ups my confidence in what I’m doing.
BTW – Crazy Sexy Kitchen is wonderful! I have found great recipes my whole family loves which includes my three elementary school aged kiddos! Not always an easy task. :). We’re getting there!
Thank you for sharing. I am undergoing chemo and I have three days where food just tastes horrible and am really unable to eat. Even green smoothies don’t sit well. I would appreciate suggestions on how to keep nutrition up, I really don’t want to have to drink Boost or Glucerna (I am diabetic and on insulin). I drink teas and water on those days. Thank you!!!!
I apologize…I get chemo once a week for three weeks and one week off. So this is an ongoing problem. Thank you again!
Hi Kandy, I can’t speak from chemo experience but my father had stomach cancer and found eating a challenge and I have had severe digestive issues from long term pain med use and multiple surgeries and just seeing the light. My father hated Ensure products but found homemade soups including bone stocks very helpful (sorry I know this is not vegan), I also find these helpful. My hubby does a beef bone run to a local organic farmer (where we’ve seen first hand how the animals are raised ) and simmers them over about 24 hrs with filtered spring water and what limited veggies I can tolerate to extract the nutrients. Only recently was I able to add a bit of dried thyme for iron. We let it cool in the fridge and remove the fat and veggies. I’ve read the stock from grass fed beef bones helps digestion and even sleep. I do say a silent thank you to the cows who gave up their life to provide food for me. I can’t digest meat and sip the plain stock but you could add soaked red lentils (very mild) and any mild veggies then blend and sip. I also stated juicing very slowly after reading Kris’s blog last year and its going well but it’s a process. I’m still only able to tolerate maybe a cup of cucumber plus asparagus in the morning and add a bit of warm water to avoid hurting my stomach….my GI doc said warm liquid is more soothing to your stomach and helps digestion…just sip. I’m sure this website has some great recipes you could modify to be easier to digest right now than smoothies which are great but can be hard to process for sensitive systems. I even resorted to baby food at one point. There are also good teas like fennel that you could SIP warm especially at morning and before bed that would help (Google best teas for heart burn to start). BTW I’m hypoglycaemic and also have to be very aware of sugars, even ‘natural’ ones which my doctor assures me my body still sees as glucose. I. Sure you’re already know that smoothies can be very high in sugar. I hope some of this helps.
When I had chemo, my breakfast was always 2 orange juices. than after a while some oat with oatmilk, or almond milk, then after a while, a veggie soup, than after a while something like a cracker (no bread), then in the afternoon, i was sick, throwing out…. BUT I kept eating !!!
no yoghurt, no diary products, not good for the stomach, no coffee !, only tea,
lots of water, really lots,
i did not loose any weight, cause I kept eating, I was so focus on that matter, that I was eating bits all the time. So this is my advice during chemo, eat small, but many times, and avoid all sugary things, except from ice, sometimes, ice cream can calm it down, sometimes not.(throwing up the ice yeah… hard but ok it is only temporary )
I pray Some one will find a cure for cancer. my message to you: Never ever give up !
I am cancerfree now and was diagnosed 4x times with cancer.
May god bless you,
Jo and Sophie thank you for your input…I was talking to my husband this morning and saying i thought maybe I should make a good broth for those days. I am getting a crockpot and think that would work well for the bones to simmer in and we do have a local organic grass fed farm in our area so I will be looking to them to purchase bones. My smoothies have always been pure veggies with only a lemon in them due to the fact of the sugar in most. I really love them but I also agree the warming liquids seem to sit better. I also have a variety of teas that are good too. I have not been sick with the chemo and for that I am grateful. My cancer is very rare, incurable and we are maintaining with chemo. Sophie it is true, never give up and stay as positive as can be. Thank you both for your words it is much appreciated.
Kandy, a crock pot is awesome for doing bone broth…set and forget! I have heard some may just simmer a bit higher and with stock you barely want to see bubbles so just take a peek the first go round. Plus if you add 1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar to the water and soak the bones for 30-60 min before heating it helps pull minerals out. I use Braggs. And, no never give up! My mother-in law is in her 70’s and in the last few yrs has survived two rounds of bone cancer with partial jaw removal, radiation and now dementia and ALL of her docs expectectations. She’s a tiny thing and very refined but farmer wife tough. She can be up and down but still has a sparkle in her beautiful smile and LOVES her sweets and Sherry. Sigh…she’s my inspiration! Keep on being farmer wife tough on your cancer but kind to your soul. I’m sure Kris would agree.
Sophie…so glad your able to get enough food down. It’s not easy is it? Go girl!
You are a genius! God bless you for all that you do in this world.
My wife and I will definitely use your Crazy Sexy Meal Plan. Your sheet is simple yet fun, which enables us to consistently use it on a weekly basis.
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!
I LOVE it!
Half the time I make a shopping list and then forget which recipe I was going to use it for and then that thing goes bad in my fridge..,. I am TOTALLY going to use it and it will make my working mommy life much easier 🙂
This is so awesome! Thank YOU!!!! 🙂