woman at counter with computer, plant-based foods point with pen to papers she is holding

Integrated Meal Planning: Time-Saving Tips for Plant-Based Success

I get it; the conversations in the food space are NOISEY! And everywhere you turn, people talk about Meal Prepping, showing pretty containers full of repeatable meals – but that isn’t the only way to make your food goals a reality! Let’s explore Meal Planning, specifically Integrated Meal Planning, and my essential Time-Saving Tips for Plant-Based Success. 

Integrated Meal Planning: Time-Saving Tips for Plant-Based Success

Why Meal Planning? Well, for starters, a plan gives you something to follow. Just like you enter a new address into your maps app to get the GPS directions, a meal plan can be the blueprint you need to get you from a struggling and overwhelmed plant-based eater to a confident and effortless plant-based eater. 

An Integrated approach offers the intention of weaving it into your life by planning in accordance with your goals, your dietary preferences, your family favorited, and time available (the key, in my opinion). It also adds the step of reflection and refinement so you can consciously choose to change or repeat what works and doesn’t! BRILLIANT (IMHO). 

Meal planning takes the guesswork out of what you are cooking each night. It allows you to create an approach that fits your lifestyle and food preferences ahead of time; you know – when you aren’t hangry… and everyone wants food. 

Meal Planning can help you save time. It can help you save money. Meal Planning can help you set and stick with your food goals. 

And if those three reasons aren’t enough, it can also help you reduce food waste, get food on the table quickly each night, and cook your favorite meals without stress and overwhelm. 

Meal planning is one of the biggest time-saving tips for plant-based success. 

Imagine walking into your kitchen after a long day and knowing exactly what you will cook, knowing all the ingredients are ready for you, AND that everyone will love what you cook because it is a tried-and-true favorite. After all, you planned it that way! 

One of my favorite parts of having a meal plan is that I build up the hype of my meals all day because I am excited to cook AND eat them. 

I’m writing this on a typical workday in my world. We had some oats for breakfast and leftovers for lunch, but I have a fun Buddha bowl planned for dinner with roasted and fresh veggies, grains, lentils, greens, and a tasty sauce. I am excited to go into the kitchen after I shut my computer for the workday, cut veggies, and mix up my sauce. 

There is no dreaded; “What’s for dinner?” conversation. There is no impulsive processed food looming in to leave me feeling frustrated and bloated. There is no wasted food because I pivoted to something more accessible or more exciting… because this meal is both easy and exciting. And guess what – I planned it that way! 

The VegInspired Meal Plan Framework for Integrated Meal Planning

This meal plan framework evolved as my meal planning experiences evolved. I’ve been meal planning for over seven years. I meal planned when I commuted an hour each way to and from work, I meal planned when I worked from home, I meal planned when I worked 20 minutes from home, I meal planned as a vegan, I meal plan in my RV life, and I meal plan as a whole-food plant-based eater… this framework works for everyone eating any way they desire! But especially for those transitioning to a new way of eating or with specific food goals. 

meal plan circular framework

Part 1: Inspiration – gather your meal ideas and inspirations as you live your life. If you are driving by a billboard and now you are craving tacos, add it to the list. Scrolling through Instagram and see a recipe you want to make? Save it and add it to the list. You are flipping through a cookbook one evening or while you are drinking your coffee and see a recipe you want to make? Add it to the list. Gather your inspirations as you are living life. **We do NOT teach you to sit down with all your cookbooks and flip through them while you are planning  – this wastes time and energy and causes people to quit planning before they start! Do you want guided training on how we suggest you build an inspiration list? Snag our Meal Plan Essentials Kit today

Part 2: Write the Plan – with your goal, your inspiration list, and your calendar (yup, your calendar holds valuable information about your time and chaotic parts of your days; use it to plan for and around them), sit down with dedicated time and put the meals intentionally on your meal plan. Want one of our expert-crafted templates? Click Here. This part of the process is likely the most time-intensive. Still, with a curated list of inspirations and practice, you will get to the point where you can put meals to paper in less than 30 minutes AND have excellent meals that come together daily with confidence and ease. 

Part 3: Carry out your Plan – Follow the plan, make your meals, eat your meals, shift, and pivot as necessary – this question comes up a lot. If something comes up or you need to swap meals, go for it. Your meal plan isn’t set in stone; it would be like taking a detour to get to the same plan. Maybe your mushrooms are getting icky, and you want to move that meal up a few days – go for it! 

Part 4: Reflect, Refine, Repeat – This is the part most people skip, leaving them in a perpetual cycle of meal planning frustration, OR they quit before they get the hang of it. What worked this week? What didn’t work? What lessons did you learn? What will you change for next time? 

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about meal planning is that when I want to delegate a meal to my husband, I have to spell out each step. He does not enjoy ambiguity, so “Buddha bowls” isn’t enough information. And to be honest, it isn’t always enough info for me either. “Was this the Buddha bowl with the tahini sauce or the goddess dressing? Was this the Buddha bowl with roasted veggies or fresh? So, something I’ve changed is adding more details to my simple meals. Buddha bowls with roasted broccoli, fresh salad and veggies, and tahini sauce. It’s been a game-changer and a time-saver for sure!  quinoa with colorful veggies, chickpeas and greens with tahini sauce

Integrated Meal Planning “Training Wheels”

You’ve made it this far. How are you feeling about meal planning? Ready to give it a try? How about ready to give it a try with some ‘training wheels?’  I started the Meal Plan Accountability Club (MPAC) when I saw my clients wanting more support with meal planning and more accountability and direction. We’ve been meeting for over two years to explore meal planning from different perspectives and plan our meals together. Ready to give meal planning a try? Join us for a month, two months, 6 months, or even a whole year! Learn More Here

I’d love to hear from you. Do you meal plan? What do you think? Do you want to meal plan? Connect with me on Instagram, and let me know what you think of this post. 

My final thought to share; I don’t meal plan because it is “part of my program,” or because it is “my job.” I meal plan because it saves me time, energy, money, and effort. Meal Planning has given me back a part of my life. And I teach it because it’s what I do; it is a part of me.