In this episode of The Feel Good Effect, we’re diving into the capsule meal plan!

Including what it is, why it’s such a gamechanger for your healthy eating habits and how to do it.

We’ll teach you how to make healthy and varied meal planning easier with just 5 simple steps.

And we’ve even done the heavy lifting for you!

We’re sharing our free Capsule Meal Plan and Capsule Grocery List to go along with this podcast episode (so you can start right away instead of starting from scratch).

Tune in or read the transcript to find more ease in creating healthy meals all week long. 

Let’s make it happen!

here’s a glance at this episode:

  • [01:13] Understand the common hurdles of meal planning and why we created our definitive capsule meal plan.
  • Use our 5 step plan to help you create your personalized meal plan:
    • [03:04] Download your copy of the free Capsule Meal Plan to guide you through 6 meals (plus a grocery list) to give you a head start. 
    • 1) [5:40] If you prefer to create your capsule meal plan, follow the steps below:
      • Choose 3-5 types of meals or categories to eat during the week. 
      • Mix & match different recipes within your chosen categories.
    • 2) [13:50] Modify your recipes or ingredients to your tastes or preferences. 
    • 3) [14:13] Look at your grocery list to see what you have on hand and what you need to purchase. 
    • 4) [14.57] Enjoy an ease-filled week of meals with less decision fatigue!
    • 5) [15:05] Rinse & repeat, week after week.
  • [10:16] Understand the model with a breakfast example.
  • [11:17] Walkthrough the plan with a lunch example.
  • [12:02] Review one last example with dinner recipes.
  • [15:38] Learn how to customize your capsule meal plan for cooler months.
  • [16:33] Discover how to tailor your capsule meal plan for warmer months.

links mentioned in this episode

Download the Free Capsule Meal Plan

Easy Fall Capsule Meal Plan and Recipes

How to Create a Capsule Meal Plan for Summer

How to Make a Capsule Grocery List

How to Freeze Anything in a Mason Jar

Smoothie Recipes

Soup Recipes

more episodes on meal planning

A Decision Diet for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner (FGE Meals)

Meal Planning for Unpredictable Schedules

How to End Food Decision Fatigue

Meal Prep Hacks that will Simplify your Life

read the transcript

Robyn Conley Downs: (00:01)

You’re listening to The Feel Good Effect, Capsule Meal Planning. Yes. This is a solution for all the overcomplicated, ridiculous meal plan systems out there that don’t work very well. We’re telling you what it is, how to do it. Plus we have a made-for-you plan that’s totally free. So let’s get to it. Let’s make it happen.

Robyn Conley Downs: (00:24)

Radically simple and ridiculously doable, The Feel Good Effect will help you redefine wellness on your terms. Hi, I’m your host Robyn Conley Downs. And I believe that wellness isn’t about achieving another set of impossible standards, but instead finding what works for you, drawing from cutting-edge on mindfulness, habit, and behavior change. This podcast offers a collection of small mindset shifts that allow for more calm, clarity, and joy in everyday life and allows you to embrace the idea that gentle is the new perfect. I invite you to listen in as we cut through the clutter and find the small shifts that create huge changes in your life. Less striving, more ease. It’s time to feel good.

Robyn Conley Downs: (01:13)

Well, Hey, Feel Good fam. I am so glad you’re here. This is the definitive guide to capsule meal planning and yes, we have done a couple of capsule meal plans in the past in our archives. If you wanna go back and listen, we have one for, um, spring, and I think one for fall with some done-for-you plans as well, but I wanted to provide sort of the definitive guide for you to save and share and go back to, because this is a concept that can really change not just how you meal plan, but like why do we meal plan in the first place? Nobody does it um, as an end in itself, nobody’s goal is to meal plan so they’re a better meal planner. The whole point is to make cooking for yourself and eating healthy, easier, just making fewer decisions, not ending up on a weeknight with no game plan and no ingredients. And so that’s why we do this, but I fear that sometimes the process has been over complicated and therefore, um, not very accessible to most of us and oftentimes leaving us feeling like we’re kind of a failure at the whole thing. So definitely in the spirit of ease, happy habits and healthy recipes, we are here to add a lot more ease to the process because we all know that meal planning is one of those things that would feel super great if only we could make it work on a regular basis. It’s easy to look at meal planning strategies and think, okay, of course, there’s something I could do here, but then you, life gets busy and somehow it’s like always the first thing to go. So if you tried meal planning before, but weren’t able to stick with it, it might be because like you said, the whole process was too complicated. It required too much planning and too many decisions to make. And also maybe you got bored eating the same things over and over again, but the thing is choosing meals for the week. It shouldn’t be so hard.

Robyn Conley Downs: (03:04)

So that’s why I created a capsule meal plan. And by the way, I have it done-for-you meal plan. This one’s, um, an update. So even if you’ve looked at our meal plans, they’re free on the site before please download this new one. It’s really, really so you can get, um, our capsule meal plan that’s seasonless. So it’s not, we have a fall, we have a spring. This one is for all seasons. It includes a grocery list. Okay. So not only does it have the meal plan, but it also has the grocery list. So talk about done for you. So hip pause and go download, download it right now. It’s It’s the capsule meal plan. There’s also a capsule grocery list, which we just talked about in a recent episode, you can grab both. They’re pretty, there’s some similar concepts, but for today’s episode, it’s the capsule meal plan, which has the meal plan and the grocery list completely done for you.

Robyn Conley Downs: (03:59)

So really I came up with the capsule meal plan because it is a way to get delicious meals on the table without the stress of meal planning from just a blank slate. I know that you all love it. We have so many testimonials from our listeners here at The Feel Good Effect like Carla, I hope you’re listening. Carla, the capsule meal plan has been life-changing. It’s taken most of the stress outta planning and preparing dinner or Brenna who says making any meal plan for the week has gotten so much easier. So much less decision fatigue. I love it. And it now feels like an adventure rather than a chore, going to the website and picking out recipes has become a weekly habit. Oh my gosh. I love how I love that so much.

Robyn Conley Downs: (04:40)

All right. So you’ve downloaded the free capsule meal plan. And now let’s talk about how it works because just as a capsule wardrobe allows you to decide ahead of time, what pieces of clothing you have to work with and how they go together, allowing you to make small decisions instead of big ones every day, the capsule meal plan does the same for your meal planning by picking your meal categories in advance. And categories is the key here. So kind of stay with me while I talk you through this because we use the science to help you find healthy habits in your daily life. And the science is really supportive of the idea that decision fatigue, making too any decisions is going to derail you from creating new habits and healthy, happy habits. So we wanna reduce decision fatigue, and that is what the capsule meal plan’s all about. So you can do this, you can kind of wing this on your own, or like I said, you can use our plan. It’s really, really simple.

Robyn Conley Downs: (05:40)

You simply choose what types of meals, so categories, to make for just four to five meals a week, you could do more. I definitely recommend starting with three to five. And then within those categories, you mix and match different recipes within the category. It’ll make sense. I’ll give you some examples. So you could do one recipe category for breakfast, and I should note, you don’t have to do breakfast, lunch and dinner. You could just do this for dinner. I know a lot of people just do it for dinner, but let’s say you wanted to do, you know, the full meal deal and you could go for a recipe category for breakfast. So let’s say smoothies, which we have, I don’t know, 15 to 20 smoothie recipes, healthy, nourishing, fiber, fat protein recipes for smoothies on our site right now, And you’re just deciding once I’m gonna have smoothies for breakfast this week, now you can get a little more, like add a little more to it, where you could say I’m gonna do smoothies and overnight oats and kind of alternate. But I feel like sometimes we think we have to have so much variety. And while that can be nice, it can also just add complexity where it doesn’t need to be, because you could have a ton of variety with smoothies because you’ve decided on that category. And then the type of smoothie is where you get varieties. So let’s say you decide that’s your breakfast capsule. And then you just try different smoothies. You could do a different one each day. I think we have enough on the, on my side alone to have a different one each day.

Robyn Conley Downs: (07:13)

And then maybe for lunch, your capsule is to either eat leftovers or have soup. I love soup for lunch side note, we have, I don’t know, a hundred soup recipes on the site. They are perfect for make ahead. You can freeze them in an individual mason jars, which I also have a resource on if that’s interesting to you, but my capsule meal plan is soup for lunch, and you can do a different soup, literally every day for tons of variety. My personal kind of capsule meal plan is soup or salad. I kind of rotate between those two. And then when I grocery shop, I make sure that I buy the things that I need for like a soup or salad.

Robyn Conley Downs: (07:56)

And then if you’re just doing dinner, I like to do, you know, two to three, all the way up to five dinner meal categories. So your categories could be by like recipe type or by methods. So for example, you could do one night and one-pan dishes, one night crockpot night, and one night bowls, it’s really up to you, how you want to, which kind of categories you wanna choose, whether it’s recipe type or recipe method, and you can get really creative with this. You can have different family members choose the type like each, each family member can choose a recipe category, or you can keep it really, really streamlined and use the plan that we already have.

Robyn Conley Downs: (08:38)

The benefit really comes though when you keep the meal categories the same from week to week. So I like to do a new capsule meal plan every season. You could do a new one every month and that way you are creating some variety, but you’re keeping it the same for long enough that the decision fatigue can go down. And so once you get those categories, let’s say smoothie, soup, one-pan dishes, that’s the example I’m using, then you can pick out recipes to plug in to each recipe type for the week. And you’re done. I personally love capsule meal planning because it’s a quick way to meal plan. There’s a ton of room to be creative and to mix it up, but also having like an intentional structure to your week without all the decisions. So it’s just a framework.

Robyn Conley Downs: (09:29)

You can download ours. And if you do, I wanna walk you through it. So ours is a have, as I mentioned at the beginning of the show, we have a fall version on the website with all the recipes linked that one’s free. We have a spring or summer one. That’s all the recipes are linked as well, but the one that’s on the site for free that you can download is a PDF that has the whole meal plan. All of the recipes are actually included plus a grocery list. That’s the one I’m talking about today and I’m gonna walk you through it now. So I hope you actually have it in front of you you’ve download it so you can kind of visualize it. You don’t have to visualize, you can see what I’m talking about. Um, so in that one, in this sort of year-round seasonless capsule meal plan, we have one breakfast, one lunch and three dinner meal categories.

Robyn Conley Downs: (10:16)

So our breakfast is overnight oats. This particular recipe I chose is vanilla almond, but it’s such a great base recipe. So you could, you know, decide I’m gonna do overnight oats for breakfast, but then you could vary it every week. Like when we could be vanilla almond, the next week could be chocolate coffee. The next week could be pineapple coconut. We have quite a few recipes for overnight oats, and there are many on the internet at large, but that’s how you add variety. You know, you could do chocolate and banana. You could do peanut butter. Um, but that vanilla almond is such a great place to start. And you could try this for months you’re gonna do overnight oats for breakfast, done and done. The great thing is this one can actually be made ahead too. So you can like throw in some meal prep into this equation as well. And then you go with vanilla almond the first week, and then the second week you try some different variations to keep it interesting. And to keep some variety.

Robyn Conley Downs: (11:17)

For lunch were going with soup. And I went with a loaded chicken soup. It’s super, just simple, clean, has fiber, fat protein in it. Very easy to make ahead very easy to make in a big batch. So even if you’re a single person or in a couple, it’s great because then you have some leftovers that you can freeze for another week. And so start with a loaded chicken soup. I also of course have a vegetarian vegan variation in there for you. So it’s more of a protein soup that you can mix and match and then do that the first week. And then the next week for lunch, you might try, I don’t know any one of the easy soup recipes I have on or any of your favorite soups.

Robyn Conley Downs: (12:02)

And then we have three dinner meal categories in the download in the PDF. So we have a chili, a sheet pan meal, and then another soup because I feel like so is so versatile and for all kinds of different dietary ways of eating, I know many of you are looking for like a clean eating meal plan. So this fits that category as well. So we give you a chili recipe. I, I give you it in this meal, in the capsule meal plan, and then I give you a sheet pan meal and a soup, and then those are your categories. So every week you can choose a different kind of chili. And that’s how we get out of that cooking rut also, it’s like, okay, maybe you make, I don’t know, I make chili a lot. It’s like one of my fallback recipes, but this way you can vary it. So maybe one week you, you make the chili in the, in the capsule meal plan with the grocery list. And maybe the next week, week you make a lentil chili, you have a recipe for that. And then the next week a vegetarian chili. And then the week after that, it’s white chicken chili. And you see that you’ve had the same meal category chili, but it’s really feels different because you’re varying kind of the flavor profile and the ingredients a little bit, same thing with sheet pan meal. I think it’s a fajita recipe. And you could do the next week. Let’s say you do chicken fajita sheet pan one week. The next week you could do fish fajita sheet pan, or a totally different flavor profile. I have a really amazing sausage and potato, for example. Um, but you know, in your mind you wake up, it’s Tuesday, I’m doing sheet pan meals where I’m doing taco Tuesday. Um, and all you have to do is then like vary the recipe. And then we already talked about the soup category. So it’s really great to be able to see it all done for you. And then you can kind of make it your own, which brings us to step two.

Robyn Conley Downs: (13:50)

So once you have your capsule meal plan, whether you’re using ours or you’re using one of our seasonals or whether you actually like start from scratch with your own family or your own personal preferences, then step two is make any modifications based on what meals you want to have. So look at the recipes we picked for you or the ones that you’ve already picked and make a note of any adaptations, substitutions that you might wanna make.

Robyn Conley Downs: (14:13)

And then obviously step three is in our plan, look at the grocery list and see what you have on hand or what you need to buy. Or if you’re creating a list from scratch, make your own, there’s like a next level version where you combine the capsule meal plan with the capsule grocery list, but we are not going there today. That’s probably more for like some of our private groups and things like that, but there is a way to do ’em together where really works on all cylinders. So either way in step three, you’re gonna look at our grocery list or the one that you, you are writing each week and then just check. Do you have the ingredients on hand? What do you need to add? What do you need to pick up at the store? Any substitutions, adaptations to recipes that you need to make for your family or for yourself.

Robyn Conley Downs: (14:57)

And then step four, enjoy an ease-filled week of meals you look forward to with ingredients you already have. And without having to think too much about it.

Robyn Conley Downs: (15:05)

Of course, step five is just rinse and repeat, rotate your recipes for each meal type each week until you feel like creating a new one, a new, fresh one, like, okay, I’m, it’s this change of season. I wanna use the fall now, or I’m ready to get like fresh with spring, or you could just use the same one year-round. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Robyn Conley Downs: (15:24)

So that is the masterclass. I’m creating a capsule meal plan. It’s really, really simple, and we’ve done it for you. So, grab the capsule meal plan. It has the week plan plus the grocery list.

Robyn Conley Downs: (15:38)

We’ll also put in the show notes links to our cooler months capsule meal plan and our warmer months capsule meal plan. So the cooler months, I just focused on dinner. We didn’t do breakfast in that one. And the categories are slow-cooker chicken, crockpot anything and everything, chili, pasta, and super stew. And so you can see it laid out. How, if you have crockpot chicken for one night of the week, every Monday, let’s say, you can really vary the flavor profile, and you can see it there where like one week might be barbecue chicken in the crockpot. And the next might be like a lemon herb chicken. And then next might be like a peanut with peanut chicken with veggies. And yes, you already nailed down the type, the category, but those are so different that they don’t feel like you’re eating the same thing.

Robyn Conley Downs: (16:33)

And then our warmer months. So like summer, spring, we have categories of grilled, bowls, stir fry, tacos. I mean, taco Tuesday, why mess with a good thing and salads. So again, thinking about like grilled, maybe you do Monday night grill and that could be chicken one week, fish another, sausage another, portobello mushrooms, even tofu, whatever your style of eating, this works for all kinds of, of diets. And you’ve already decided it’s grill night, you just have to decide what kind of thing you’re gonna grill. Same thing with tacos. I mean, I could do a capsule meal plan with tacos for every night of the week, but you could totally do different flavor profiles. Like when we have several shredded chicken taco recipes, I have a shredded beef, I have, um, a shredded pork, like all the different kinds of meat, but also a refried bean taco – all of the types of tacos. And that way you feel like you’re kind of eating something different, but the category stays week to week.

Robyn Conley Downs: (17:35)

So now you have the full masterclass on how to capsule meal plan. You have a done-for-you guide that’s free that you can download that has the recipes included plus the grocery list. So I feel like you kind of no excuse not to grab that. And then you also have the cooler months one done for you on the website and also the warmer months. This is definitely a great episode to share whatever app you’re listen on, hit share, share it on social, free resource that I think most people could benefit from. Whether you are a single, couple, you cook for a family, regardless of how you eat. The system is so elegantly simple and will definitely help you bring more ease to how you eat and to happy habits and healthy recipes. As always, I wanna thank you so much for listening. You can find me @realfoodwholelife on Instagram and Everything I talked about today is there if you need like a one-stop shop. I wanna thank you for being part of this Feel Good movement and until next time, here’s to feeling good.

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