Effective Meal Planning Tips, Elsa Jones, Nutritionist

Meal Planning – Set Yourself Up For Healthy Eating Success

What holds you back from consistently preparing healthy meals? Most will cite lack of time as a major obstacle but from personal and professional experience I would say that lack of organisation & meal planning is actually where most of us fall down. This is why I dedicate at least one full class to meal planning when I teach my nutrition & weight management courses. With bit of clever planning and organisation you’d be surprised how easy and enjoyable healthy eating becomes. Below is a testimonial from the course I ran in April which proves how effective meal planning is – it’s not rocket science, just basic stuff that makes a huge difference!


For structured meal plans to follow check out my online programs or come join my evening course in Dublin this September, poster below! 

In the meantime, here are some basic tips to get you started:

Meal Planning Basics – Set Yourself Up For Healthy Eating Success!

  • Get a blank sheet and create 4 headings – breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner. Under each heading, write down 5-7 healthy meals/snack options that you enjoy and do your body good. For breakfast you may only need 2-3 options. You will use this for inspiration when you are planning meals for the week ahead. Perhaps stick it up on your fridge or save onto your phone.


  • Schedule in time time once a week for meal planning. Saturday seems to be a good day for many. Write down exactly what you plan to eat for all meals & snacks for the next 7 days. If 7 feels overwhelming, start with 3-4 days and repeat. Planning 3-4 days ahead work best for me. You can download a basic weekly meal planner online or just create your own.


  • Have a think about your schedule for the week ahead, are you likely to be extra busy/tired on certain days? If so, you need to factor this in and choose simple, easy to prepare meals for those days or perhaps eat leftovers from the day before or defrost a meal made previously. You may also eat out on certain days or have a takeaway, think ahead and factor your schedule into your meal choices for each day.


  • It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you think you have to cook 7 different dinners every night – but who says you have to? I often double cook dinners and get two evening meals out of the one cooking session. Or I’ll freeze leftovers for a day that I’m too busy/tired to cook from scratch. Another way to make healthy eating easier is to choose simple cooking styles – the vast majority of the recipes I share with attendants of my courses and online programs are one pot meals and one tray oven meals. This style of cooking works really well for me and my family, it just makes getting healthy meals to the table much easier. Have a read of my blog post to help you Cook Smarter Not Harder and have a look through the recipe section of my website for some healthy inspiration.




Read my Blog Post Linked Above To Help You Cook Smarter Not Harder!

  • Once you’ve made your choices for the week ahead. You’ll need to make a comprehensive shopping list for the supermarket. Make sure to think about every ingredient you will need for each meal you plan to make. Write down all the ingredients required for each meal one at a time. Some recipes will be in your head, for others, you may need to refer to a recipe in a book or online.


  • I often type up and save recipes for myself so that I can quickly refer to ingredients lists when I’m doing up my list for the supermarket. Missing an ingredient for a recipe really bugs me!! It can be handy to have a folder of recipes you’ve printed off. I also have a general supermarket list typed up with healthy food staples that I know I can create healthy meals from. You could save this onto your phone or wherever is handiest for you.


  • Decide on when and where you will go to supermarket & make time in your schedule to do so – sounds super basic I know but you’d be surprised how many people tell me they couldn’t find time to ‘do a proper shop’ in the supermarket and end up ‘grabbing a few bits’ every other day instead. Once you’re fridge is stocked up with healthy ingredients you are all set up for healthy eating success. It’s half the battle done!


  • Remember, if you don’t plan ahead, you put yourself in the position of having to make choices when you’re tired and hungry! Not a good combination in my experience!

I Hope you find these tips useful, below is the poster for my upcoming evening course in Dublin, e-mail me to book your place.

P.S. If you cant make the course, remember you cant start an online program anytime anywhere!

Do something TODAY that your future self will thank you for! 

Elsa xx