Easy Meal Planning for Healthy, On-the-Go Eating

Ah, Tupperware. Our best friend.

I have written previously about meal planning and grocery shopping here.

This post is a bit different. This post will take the basic building block formula of a healthy meal:

  • COMPLEX CARBS + PROTEIN + VEGETABLES

and show you how to achieve this when you’re a busy, on-the-go professional, often living alone or at least making vegetarian/vegan food for just yourself (those of you with meat-eating partners, I’m talking to you!).

Meal planning sounds like such a drag, especially when you’re not an organized person by nature. So the best way to take the fear out of it is to make it really simple. Don’t fuss about coming up with several fancy meals for the week. Just make sure each meal follows the formula above and you’ve got a great dinner. How does that work?

You make:

  • a couple of ‘carb’ dishes (grains, bread etc) at the weekend
  • a couple of protein dishes
  • and have veg on hand

Then each day you just throw ’em together and voila!

Here are some examples:

One weekend, I might make:

  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups rice pasta (toss it with olive oil so it doesn’t stick together too much in the fridge)
  • Fry up some caramelized tofu strips (I LOVE these ones by Kate)
  • Hard boil some eggs
  • salad greens
  • and maybe some steamed peas and carrots
I refrigerate them in covered, sealed Tupperware containers. If you’re really picky as an eater, you might want to make pasta fresh, but for me I’d rather save time than worry about a bit of rubbery texture in my pasta ;). Then how do I build my meals for the week?

Each day, I can throw into a Tupperware container (to take to work), or to throw together when I get home from work:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • a few tofu strips
  • some salad greens
I can toss that all together with a bottle of salad dressing I keep at work or some hummus or just lemon juice mixed with mustard and honey (a great dressing!). Voila, a healthy balanced meal.

Quinoa salad – Copyright to The Guiltless Life

Another alternative meal with these ingredients?

  • A serving of pasta
  • tossed with some tomato sauce, peas and carrots and microwaved
  • topped with some crumbled feta cheese and a hard boiled egg, chopped

Bingo. Another instant meal.

These might not be the most gourmet meals, but if you choose components that you LIKE (if tofu isn’t your thing, sprinkle nutritional yeast on your pasta instead, or use canned chickpeas or cooked lentils!), then they are tasty and healthy balanced meals that will keep your energy going so that when you DO have time, you can cook up something really special.

THE LIST

Here is my list of possible protein/grain/vegetable options I go for each week. If you have any suggestions for me to add to this, please let me know!

CARBS:

  • wholewheat or gluten-free pita breads
  • rice or quinoa pasta
  • quinoa
  • basmati rice
  • potatoes (for baked potatoes or mashed)
*Hint: for some great tasting grains, boil with vegetable stock and/or coconut milk and season with curry powder or saffron.

PROTEIN:

  • hard or soft boiled eggs (or fried, scrambled etc)
  • nutritional yeast
  • tofu strips (I only like my tofu in strips and crispy! Make however you like)
  • veggie burgers
  • chickpeas
  • cooked lentils
  • beans
  • Greek yogurt
  • feta cheese, lowfat
  • halloumi cheese, grilled in strips
  • protein powder
  • hemp hearts
  • falafel patties
  • miso soup with tofu pieces
  • healthy deviled eggs (a great lighter deviled egg recipe is here)
  • edamame

VEGETABLES:

  • salad greens
  • avocados
  • mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, roasted
  • roasted veg such as parsnips, squash, mushrooms, asparagus etc (depending on season)
  • peas and carrots (my favourite steamed veg)
  • Portobello mushroom caps (fantastic grilled)
  • tomato sauce, canned
  • spinach leaves (great for throwing into smoothies)

Here’s a printout if you want!

Obviously if you’re cooking for one you don’t need to get all of these every week, which is why it’s great to have a long list you can rotate through so you never get bored!

More on meal planning:

  • My original grocery list meal planning post
  • Angela at Oh She Glows! posted a fabulous vegan pantry post last week to help make sure your kitchen is fully stocked
  • Elise at Hungry Hungry Hippie has many posts on meal planning and this post includes more suggestions on forming meals out of your pre-made grains/proteins/veg etc.

QUESTIONS:

  • Do you make bulk items at the weekend? It’s recent for me but it has helped tons with saving money on lunches and ensuring I’m getting a good balance of macronutrients.
  • Do you find that you intuitively make your meals up of protein + complex carbs + veg? When I first became vegetarian it was carbs, carbs, carbs all the time without my realizing it. Healthy ones, but still! Now I pay much more attention to getting my protein and veg in there too.
Advertisements

Comments

  1. Great list anna! planning ahead is so important. I like cooking up some protein and carbs like rice on the weekend to be prepared during the week when I’m in a rush. Your suggestions are great and I’ll def be using a few 🙂

  2. LOVE this list especially the list of protein sources. i’m always looking for different choices. i need to be better about prepping on the weekend like you. prepping some carbs ahead of time would go a long way during my busy week.

    • Aw thanks Sara! The grains definitely help as they take the most time. Some of the proteins do – like marinating and frying tofu if that’s what you’re using – but so many of them are so quick and easy, like edamame or sprinkling nooch on something – that it’s really just the grains are the key to prepping in advance!

  3. What a great post! You put a lot of time into this girl! Love the lists!

    I need some quinoa in my life, been a long time!

    Happy Wednesday! ❤

  4. Great post!!

  5. This is a great post! I used to be this organized, now I just throw stuff together & wing it 😛 The other day I got a call for work, and had to scramble to put together a lunch. I ended up taking an English muffin w/ pb&j, and some brussels sprouts 😛 No planning, haha. One day I’ll get organized again!

    • Haha but yet you had a balanced meal! If we can call peanut butter protein… :). Because at some point I think this all becomes pretty intuitive. You have to put in the effort to do some planning initially, and then over time you realize that when you go for a quick meal you are instinctively choosing proteins, fats, vegetables and whole grains. Winner!

  6. Great post. I can’t imagine getting thru a week without having done SOME kind of food prep & meal planning. It takes so much stress away! Roasting up a bunch of chicken or turkey breast and pre-chopping veggies takes only a bit of time and makes life so much easier throughout the rest of the week!

  7. This is such a great post! I will really need to be aware of stuff like this, especially when I go to college. I love your ideas, thanks for sharing!!

  8. I have to tell you- I really look forward to reading your blog everyday!

    Love your food planning post- seems so simple- now if only I could get myself to do this…

    • Oh you’re so kind, thank you Jocelyn! That made my day :).

      I know it’s tough at first, and I have to force myself to do it too sometimes, but once you’ve done it for a few months it’s amazing how intuitive it becomes. You just start automatically putting meals together that have this kind of balance and then the planning isn’t as necessary!

  9. Love this post! So helpful! I have a bento-style lunch box, and it’s so handy because I know I need to have a protein, a source of carbs, and some produce and it’s easy to make sure I have it all because I use one little container for each! They’re from laptoplunches.com. Check them out if you’re interested. I also did a post on them a little while back.

  10. I definitely always make a balanced meal without having to think 😀 It’s the RD in me 😉 Great post sweetie!

  11. this is awesome thanks for sharing!

  12. What a fantastic post! Thanks so much for all the ideas and tips for meal planning. I’m a huge list freak and love planning things out ahead of time but I still found a lot of new and useful information. By the way, what halloumi cheese? I’ve never heard of this before but I love all things cheese 🙂

    • Halloumi cheese is a Greek cheese (some say it’s from Cyprus) that doesn’t melt when heated, so you can grill it and it remains firm. It’s delicious grilled and thrown on top of salads etc. It’s salty and creamy and absolutely delicious! Should be in the foreign cheese section of most supermarkets. Some people spell it with just one ‘l’. Hope that helps!

  13. Awesome post Anna! Totally agree with you about prep. Because I work in the restaurant business I can’t make too much food ahead, I actually end up bringing food to the office as I often can’t finish all that I make (I really enjoy that too!) Great tips!

  14. This is such a great post! I think sometimes people over complicate things, and don’t realise that balancing meals is pretty easy once you know what you’re doing. Such a great idea!

Trackbacks

  1. […] real food! Or at least change 1 of your daily meals to real food.  Check out Anna’s post: Easy Meal Planning for Healthy, On-the-Go Eating, for a convent and easy suggestion on how to plan your weekly […]

  2. […] Be more prepared with my meals – take my own advice! […]

  3. […] previously addressed meal planning and balanced meal building (though if there is anything more specific you want to know on either of those subjects, shoot me […]

  4. […] previously addressed meal planning and balanced meal building (though if there is anything more specific you want to know on either of those subjects, shoot me […]

  5. […] I mentioned in my meal planning post for on-the-go eating, the easiest way to approach dinner when you’re well and truly stumped, is to stop thinking […]

Let's chat!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: