How to Create a Capsule Meal Plan for Summer
You know the benefits of a capsule wardrobe, but what about a capsule meal plan? Let’s talk about what it is, why to do one, and how to make it custom for summer!
To reduce decision fatigue even more, I’ll share my own meal plan (including recipes) with you that you can use as-is or as a template in creating your own.
how to create a capsule meal plan for summer
We have talked about capsule wardrobes on the show before, including a popular episode with Ashlee Gadd about making capsule wardrobes work for you in your real life. Rather than conceptualizing it as having a certain number of items or dressing for a life that you don’t have, it’s actually more about looking at what your life is like right now. How you want to feel, how you want to look, and paring down to just the items that make you feel good.
We also talk about this concept with capsule meal planning. Using the ideas from a capsule wardrobe and the goal of reducing decision fatigue so that you have more energy, more willpower, more discipline, and feel good in the life you have now. Earlier I recorded an episode on capsule meal plans for fall, but I wanted to offer another tailored for summer.
I dive into this a lot more in my book, The Feel Good Effect. Check out the chapter on reducing decision fatigue to learn more about optimizing these ideas in your own life!
what’s a capsule meal plan?
On average, a person makes over 267 food decisions per day (this is much higher for caregivers or for anyone with food insecurities). We make all these decisions about what to eat, when to eat, how to get the food, how to prepare it, how to store it, etc. Shown in research, we know that decision fatigue is connected to less willpower and more exhaustion.
To combat decision fatigue, I came up with a decision diet. A decision “diet” isn’t a diet diet – it’s really just making decisions ahead of time, narrowing your options, and holding some of the variables constant. All of this has evolved into what I am now calling ‘capsule meal plans’.
“On average, a person makes over 267 food decisions per day. This is much higher for caregivers or for anyone with food insecurities”Robyn Conley Downs
why create a capsule meal plan
The reason why traditional, typical meal planning feels so complicated is because it is – it requires hundreds of decisions. There’s a reason that it often falls off of our to-do’s. Instead, a capsule meal plan offers a more doable & more sustainable approach.
Instead of planning all new recipes with all different ingredients every week, you can hold something constant: meal type. Let’s take Taco Tuesday as an example of your chosen meal type.
Then, instead of having to figure out what kind of meal you are going to have for each day of the week, you only need to figure out what kind of tacos you’re having. This allows your grocery list to stay pretty consistent and less stressful.
“Don’t spend time planning something that won’t work anyway”Robyn Conley Downs
how to create a capsule meal plan
You could choose one meal type for each day of the week.
Others in the community have liked to pick one person to be in charge of dinner for each night of the week.
The overlap here is picking one variable to be constant for each day of the week. You could pick a different cuisine type for each day or even a different cooking vessel / method (like Crockpot Monday, Instant Pot Tuesday, Air Fryer Wednesday, etc).
As always with anything I share – take what you need and leave what you don’t. Remember, a system like this is only as good as it works in your life for your preferences and needs.
questions to ask yourself before getting started
Now, I want you to pause and ask yourself a few questions.
1 | How do you want to feel?
This takes meal planning out of yet another to-do and brings it back to what really matters to you. How do you want to feel when it comes to getting dinner on the table? Or when it comes to eating? How do you want to feel in your summer season?
2 | What’s your summer schedule?
Take a moment to reflect on what your summer schedule might actually look like. What’s happening in your life this summer? Maybe it’s not any different than any other season, maybe you are able to take some time off, maybe there is some travel planned, maybe seeing friends, maybe wanting to do some backyard entertaining again, maybe you have kids home with you all day. Be honest and realistic about what this summer season is going to look like for you.
3 | How much time do you want to spend?
How much time do you have to spend on these meals? How much prep do you realistically want to do? Maybe the pace of summer allows you to try some new things. Maybe you want to try some new cookbooks or cuisines or make meals around summer produce.
For my premade summer meal plan complete with seasonal recipes, check out: A Done For You Capsule Meal Plan for Summer!
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