How I Created A Meal Planning System For Lunch

Meal Planning For Lunch Is An Ongoing Struggle

Here I was facing another week of lackluster lunches and snacks for work.  And I know when this happens I will spend a lot of money throughout the week buying junk out of the vending machine or at fast food restaurants.

I had a great formula for creating healthy and satisfying lunches and snacks. I had great recipes too but here I was feeling disorganized and frustrated.  As the week began, I knew I hadn’t made the time to go grocery shopping and prepare food for the week so what did I expect?  I thought back over all the different attempts I’d made to be organized.  None seemed to work 100%, but the biggest problem was my commitment to them and making it a priority.  I made a decision to stick with the following system I created to ensure I had lunches and snacks for the week:

meal-planning-system-for-lunches

My Best System For Meal Planning For Lunches

Menu Plan Throughout The Week

Instead of trying to menu plan for an entire week all at once, I will spend a few minutes every day working on my meal plan.  If I save it all for one night,  I tend to throw it together, I’m less creative and I don’t try new things.  So throughout the week I will look for one or two new recipes to try and put in my meal planner. I don’t necessarily make those recipes the following week, but I’ve created a collection of new recipes that I want to try and they are organized in my meal planner. Then, when I’m working on my meal plan, I can quickly and easily look for recipes I know I’m interested in trying. Having them right there organized in my meal planner helps me to stay focused on the task of meal planning otherwise I might find myself sucked into browsing for new recipes instead of meal planning.

Finalize Grocery List Thursday Night

On Thursdays, it’s a priority to finalize the grocery list.  I also clean out the refrigerator to double check what has spoiled, additional items needed for the grocery list, and any items that needs to be used up. I might modify my plan to ensure this food doesn’t go to waste. It’s a great final check to ensure the grocery list is complete. If I’m having the groceries delivered, I will place the order for delivery the next evening or first thing Saturday morning.

Grocery Shop Or Have Groceries Delivered On Friday

I know who wants to grocery shop on a Friday night! This is one reason why I love to have my groceries delivered! However, I find if I go straight after work, I feel so much less stressed on the weekend. It feels great to get it out of the way. Plus, I can grab something simple to serve up on Friday night. Thursday after work is also another great time to get grocery shopping out of the way. This way, I can focus my Saturday mornings on prepping and organizing meals for the week.

Another bonus to meal planning throughout the week and grocery shopping at the end of the week is that it allows me to take advantage of the sale items for the week. I am able to plan my meals around the items on sale at the store.

Saturday Morning Prep Ahead Lunches

Saturday mornings I prep ahead breakfast, lunches and snacks for the week.  I spend a couple hours every Saturday for this activity and keep it as a priority.  I’ve learned if I move it or think I’ll get to it on Sunday, it usually means I’m facing a week of disorganization.  I stand firm on making other plans on Saturdays no earlier than noon so I can keep this as a priority. You might find a different time slot works best for your schedule. It doesn’t matter when you do it, just that you find a time slot you can make a commitment to.

On Saturday mornings, there are several things I do to prep for the week:

  • Chop up vegetable snacks and place in small containers/bags so that it’s easy to grab and go.
  • Make a recipe and place individual servings into containers.  Then, I either place in my refrigerator to eat a couple of times the next week or place in the freezer for future lunches.  I love this trick.  Not only am I making lunches for the current week, but I’m building up a stash for future weeks making it easy to grab lunches from the freezer when needed.

Make Extra/Double Up Recipes Throughout The Week

I take advantage of every opportunity to double a recipe or make extras to ensure I have leftovers for lunch.  For example, when I make lasagna meat sauce, I double it and freeze for the next time I make lasagna.  I also freeze and leftover lasagna for future lunches.  I ALWAYS make extra chicken breasts.  They are great to have on hand for salads, quesadillas, or just reheat them and dip in BBQ sauce.

However you decide to tackle your lunch and snack planning break it up into small tasks to eliminate the overwhelm.  Also remember to prep ahead and keep it as a priority – you’re worth it!  What are your best lunch planning tips?

High Protein Lunch Challenge

Have you signed up for our High Protein Lunch Challenge? This is one of our recipes in our High Protein Lunch Challenge Getting Started Guide. You can get this guide and join in the challenge for free! We look forward to meeting you!

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