January 19, 2023
265: Meal Planning in 5 Easy Steps

Discover a great way to incorporate healthy eating into your lifestyle in this Thursday's Health Tip episode. We'll cover simple steps to efficiently plan and prepare meals and develop a habit of making achievable and sustain...

Discover a great way to incorporate healthy eating into your lifestyle in this Thursday's Health Tip episode. We'll cover simple steps to efficiently plan and prepare meals and develop a habit of making achievable and sustainable gradual changes to your diet.

Today, you’ll learn:

  • What to eat for breakfast, lunch & dinner 
  • How to navigate the grocery store 
  • How to set up your kitchen for success 


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Some people decide to make a change overnight and then throw out all these animal-based and processed foods. I do not recommend doing that. I also do not recommend changing how you eat overnight. It would be best to add healthier meals to your diet slowly. If you decided you'd like to be more physically active today, you would not run a marathon tomorrow. You would plan for gradual changes that are doable, achievable, and sustainable.

In today's Thursday's Health Tip in 5 minutes or less, we discuss meal planning in 5 easy steps.

You will learn the following:

  • What to eat for breakfast, lunch & dinner
  • How to navigate the grocery store
  • How to set up your kitchen for success

You will want to download my Grocery & Meal Planner for additional resources. https://bit.ly/mayasmealplanner

Make sure to revisit Thursday episodes for additional health tips.

I recommend that people rely on understanding food rather than relying on recipes. Over time, you will learn how to combine your foods in a pleasing way. However, I will give you meal ideas after we cover the meal-planning steps to get you started.

Meal Planning: Decide which meals you will each for one week. 

I've created a downloadable Grocery & Meal Planner pdf. Go to this link to download it, print and begin to plan your meals. You have three columns for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You have seven rows for seven days a week. Jot down your meals in each cell. I've also provided a Daily Meal Planner if that works best for you. Once you get the hang of how meal planning works, you can switch to the 30-Day Meal Planner I've provided. So in my pdf, you have a daily planner, weekly planner, and 30-day planner.

Do groceries ahead of time: 

After you've decided which meals you will prepare for the week, use the provided grocery list template to plan carefully the ingredients you will need for your meals. The grocery list has several sections. Fresh produce is where you will find your fresh fruits, vegetables, tofu, and mushrooms. You will also find pre-cut, pre-chopped produce to save time. Canned goods are located in another area of the store. Here you can purchase cooked beans, tomatoes, and other canned vegetables. You will find whole grains, uncooked beans, nuts, and seeds in the grocery store's bulk section. In the frozen food section, you will find vegetables and fruit. Remember to purchase spices and low-sodium vegetable broth. Always try to choose the low-sodium options.

Prepare ingredients ahead of time: 

You've done your groceries. Hopefully, you have time to spare to prepare some of your ingredients lightly. Take the time to take your foods out of their plastic containers and bags if they come that way. I usually remove my romaine lettuce from their bags, wrap each head in paper towels, and return it to its original bag. I go through my blueberries to see if I have any bruised or damaged, and I line the containers inside with paper towels. We want to prevent moisture from spoiling our produce. I do the same with mushrooms if they are wrapped in plastic.

Chop, cube, slice ahead of time
Next, take the time to further prepare ingredients for the week. If you know, you will need red onion, cucumbers, chives, etc., chop them and store them individually in mason jars for your meals. This includes beans. Cook in your instant pot and then drain and store in mason jars.  

Set up stations and organize your pantry: 

Take a look at my Grocery & Meal Planner again to see how you can manage your pantry and set up your smoothie station to make smoothies quickly. Take your grains, flours, legumes, and other dry goods out of their original containers and place them in clear containers with labels. This allows you to see what you have and if you need to replenish. 

Here are additional tips:

Get organized: 

Create a binder to store your favorite recipes. I typically print out a recipe. Then I make notes indicating if I enjoyed the recipe, what changes I made and what I would do differently in the future. Make sure to date your notes. This helps me to remember the adjustments that I made to each recipe.  

Here are meal ideas: 


  • Smoothie station - you can easily prepare small baggies with all the ingredients you need to make a smoothie. In my case, I would place frozen berries, frozen bananas, and frozen kale/arugula in one bag for that one serving. I keep these in my freezer. Next to my vitamix blender, I keep a tray of other ingredients such as peanut butter powder, amla powder, matcha powder, beet powder, and non-dairy milk. This is my smoothie station, and my smoothies vary depending on what fruits and leafy greens I have. I add flax seeds and walnuts. 
  • Oatmeal station is very similar to smoothie station in that I add berries, bananas, or fruit—top with cinnamon, flaxseeds, and walnuts. I have vanilla nearby.
  • Savory Polenta - this is more of a savory breakfast. I really enjoy preparing a basic polenta topped with black beans and tomato salsa. 

Other breakfast ideas:

  • Breakfast burrito 
  • Tofu scramble with potatoes  
  • Tortilla espanola  
  • Blueberry muffins  
  • Chia breakfast parfait  
  • Avocado and tomato toast 

My lunch is usually light  

  • Mexican corn and black bean salad
  • Roasted root vegetable salad
  • Couscous salad (peppers, chickpeas, herbs, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes,  
  • Bean chili 
  • Minestrone (carrots, celery, potatoes, kind beans, macaroni pasta, lima beans, spinach)
  • Colorful quinoa salad (edamame, corn, quinoa, red bell pepper) 
  • Mediterranean lentils (green lentils, tomatoes, cucumber, red bell pepper, carrot, olives, basil)
  • Fruity spinach salad (baby spinach, red apple, red onion, pomegranate seeds, strawberries, walnuts) 

Dinner is often something that my husband and I enjoy, such as: 

  • Pasta Fagioli (great Northern beans, crushed tomatoes, ditalini  pasta, onion,  
  • Lasagna soup (canned tomatoes, pasta) 
  • Veggie stir-fry 
  • Red lentil and artichoke soup (canned artichoke) 
  • Cauliflower pizza 

Again, prep your beans and veggies ahead of time.  

Other ideas for lunch and dinner:  

  • Barley soup
  • Spaghetti Alfredo 
  • Loaded sweet potato  


  • Fruit 
  • Chia pudding

For delicious plant-based recipes, check out the following: 

Replacing egg: 

  • Flax seeds: 1 TBSP ground flaxseed + 3 TBSP water  Chia seeds: 1 TBSP + 2 TBSP water 
  • Aquafaba, which is the liquid found in chickpeas  

Sauces can be made with 

  • Miso 
  • Tamari/soy sauce 
  • Mustard 
  • Maple syrup  

There you have it! You are set up for success. You can start planning on incorporating more whole plant-based meals into your life.

If you have any questions or if you feel that I missed something, please leave me a message.