In this episode of the Feel Good Effect Podcast, we’re talking about how to do meal planning differently to avoid decision fatigue. We’ll dive into exactly how you can feel good effect meal planning with a simple capsule meal plan for fall.

Feel Good Effect Your Meal Plan: How to Create a Fall Capsule Meal Plan

Honestly, I am not a fan of meal planning.

But I also know that planning ahead of time or doing a decision diet actually helps preserve willpower and avoid decision fatigue. 

So, here’s what I do instead.

Meal planning + a striving mind

My journey with meal planning is really grounded in the striving mindset.

A huge part of the feel good effect is understanding that the way we think impacts our habits and actions.

The striving mindset is really common and includes perfectionism, all or nothing thinking, and comparison.

Think about in your own life, when you hear meal plan, what comes up for you?

  • Perfectionism: Is it something you felt like had to be perfect so you couldn’t do it or you fell short? Or you couldn’t live up to the unrealistic standards you had set for yourself, or someone else had set for you?
  • All or nothing: Is it something where you felt you had to spend hours going through every cookbook and website to find the right recipes?
  • Comparison: Is it something you feel overwhelmed by after watching a Youtuber or Instagrammer or a friend or family member whose method just didn’t work for you?

I fully fell into this trifecta of the striving mindset, very much overcomplicating the whole thing.

The feel good effect

Eventually, I learned a different way, the feel good mindset:

  • Compassion instead of perfection
  • Flexible thinking instead of all or nothing
  • Gratitude instead of comparison

If you’re going to feel good effect anything, start by asking yourself how you are approaching it. 

What way are you are thinking about it? 

Often the way we are thinking about it is a barrier.

Decision fatigue

The format of a capsule meal plan is about reducing decision fatigue.

A decision diet is all about reducing the number of decisions you have to make by deciding ahead of time.

I dive into this more in the book, but we make 260 food-related decisions per day (on average- it’s more if you are living below the poverty line, it’s more if you are a caregiver)

All these decisions lead to something called decision fatigue, which impacts your energy, willpower, discipline, and contributes to that exhaustion at the end of the day.

The way through decision fatigue is a decision diet, making decision templates ahead of time.

Capsule meal planning

Meal planning is THE place for a decision template.

Another popular area is a capsule wardrobe, which is this idea that we can curate our wardrobes to be just pieces we love and that go together.

We think more is better, but more is complicated.

By creating boundaries, you create freedom.

You wouldn’t sit down and plan out everything you were going to wear down to the accessories for a month.

Instead, a capsule wardrobe allows you to decide ahead of time what you have to work with and how they go together, allowing you to make small decisions instead of big decisions every day.

Same concept with meal planning.

Imagine trying to meal plan the whole month or week down to the recipe, leaving you with a grocery list of like 800 items on it…

Meal mapping

This is essentially meal mapping.

Identify a meal type for each day of the week, which you can change with the seasons.

Think about the kinds of meals you like to eat in this season and how you want to feel (e.g. light? fresh? cozy? grounded? nourished?)

And then decide a meal type for each day.

My meal types for fall

  • Monday: crockpot chicken with veggies and rice
  • Tuesday: tacos (why mess with a good thing?)
  • Wednesday: chili night
  • Thursday: pasta night
  • Friday: soup or stew

I chose these low energy, low output, fuss-free meals because it fits in this season of my life, which is busy pandemic life and no extra energy for elaborate cooking.

That might not be the season of your life, maybe you like being in the kitchen and cooking!

I also ask myself, what does my family like to eat that I also like to eat?

This doesn’t mean I’m eating the same thing every week- you can combine this outline with unlimited variety.

Variants for my meal map
Crockpot chicken Monday

If you don’t eat chicken or meat, you can do something very similar whether it’s tempeh, tofu, or roasted chickpea.

Taco Tuesday
Chili Wednesday
Pasta Thursday
Soup or stew Friday

This might not feel like enough for many, so you can pair it with a grilled sandwich, bread, tartines, or salad

Veggie side inspo

I rarely use a recipe for a veggie side, often putting together a simple salad, roasted veggies, quick slaw, but here are some ideas for healthy sides

Getting creative with different diets

I follow a paleo diet, my family does not, but I make these work for everyone in my home.

For pasta night, I might make pasta for my family and zoodles for myself.

If my family is having bread or sandwiches on the side, I might have a grain-free bread or a salad.

You can often deconstruct without making entirely separate recipes.

Step out of striving and into the feel good mindset.


Chicken crockpot



Pasta sauces

Soup or stews

Healthy sides from Real Food Whole Life

How to Freeze Anything in a Mason Jar

Easy Fall Capsule Meal Plan & Recipes

other feel good effect episodes you’ll love
  • Paring Down to Create More with Melissa Coleman
  • More Than Enough: A Practical Guide to Living with Less with Miranda Anderson
  • How to Radically Simplify Meal Prep
  • Transforming How You Eat & Simplifying Grocery Shopping with Jessica Jones

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