No Fail Meal Planning Tips (For People Who Hate Meal Planning) - Real Food Whole Life

No Fail Meal Planning Tips (For People Who Hate Meal Planning)

Fill your cup, empty your to-do list, and discover a life that feels good. Subscribe to the Feel Good Effect podcast for free by clicking the button below.

We’re taking a deep dive into meal planning this week. From how to make meal planning work in real life, common mistakes, specific mindset strategies, and action steps, this episode is packed with information to help you meal plan (even if you hate the idea right now)!

Key Takeaways

1 | Let Go of Perfect

There is no such thing as perfect meal planning.

Let go of unrealistic expectations and rigid plans in favor of simplicity, and work within the context of your real life.

Action Step: Can you think of a specific example when perfect meal planning or following a rigid plan kept you from meal planning?

If so, how can you reset expectations and try again?

2 | Know your Why

Keeping in mind why you are meal planning and cooking at home can help keep you on track and motivated over time.

If your why includes goals for the future, see if you can add a few that are more immediate.

Action Step: Make a list of why you want to meal plan and cook at home.

Then add a few immediate outcomes to the list.

3 | Simplify

Complicated recipes and long ingredient lists are a sure why to burnout and ditch meal planning altogether. Instead, try simplifying.

Think of recipes in terms of the Essential Six, and Meal Map instead of meal planning.

Simplifying the process will allow you to know what you need at the grocery store and then have ingredients on hand to throw together meals in minutes.

Action Step: Think about ways you can simplify meal planning.

Try adopting the Essential Six and Meal Mapping approach and see if it makes things easier.

4 | Make it Enjoyable

Take meal planning off the dreaded chore list and move it into the self-care category.

Pour yourself a cup of tea or glass of wine, put on some good music, and take a few moments to prepare for the week in comfort.

Action Step: Brainstorm a few ways you can make the process of meal planning more enjoyable and nurturing.

5 | Enlist Help

There is no rule you need to do everything yourself. Invite others in your life to help with the process, whether it’s picking up groceries or taking something off your plate.

Action Step: Think about ways you can invite help when it comes to meal planning. Then reach out and ask!

6 | Anything is Better Than Nothing

In the ideal world we’d all have every meal planned and ingredients on hand for effortless cooking.

Since the ideal isn’t always possible, just start with something. Plan one dinner. Batch cook one recipe. Start small. Then see how far you can go.

Action Step: How can you adopt the anything is better than nothing mentality this week? You don’t need to wait for the ideal, start now, start small, and enjoy the ride.


5 Meal Planning Myths (and Why It’s Not as Complicated as You Think)

Ditch the Complicated Meal Plan (and Try This Instead)

Episode 17: What I Wish I’d Known When Starting a Wellness Journey

Friday Night Oven Fries

More Information


Instagram: @realfoodwholelife


The Secret to a Happy, Healthy Life with Gretchen Rubin

Finding Healthy Middle Ground + Thriving with an Autoimmune Disease, with Phoebe Lapine

How to Create a Morning Routine in Less Time with More Impact

Share this post

6 comments to " No Fail Meal Planning Tips (For People Who Hate Meal Planning) "

  • Alicia

    Great podcast! I learned a lot of helpful tips for meal planning that I’m already incorporating into our weekly routine. Recommendation for a future podcast – interview with Erica Ziel of Knocked Up Fitness. She is an expert in prenatal and postpartum fitness. I’ve just completed her Core Rehab Program and am a big fan!

    • Robyn Downs

      Alicia, yay, so happy to hear this episode is helpful to you. Thanks for the recommendation, too, I’ll definitely check her out!

  • Amber

    I love all of this, thank you for sharing such great tips! I got here via the Wellness Personality quiz, I haven’t listened to your podcasts yet- well done! I am a SEEKER- and is absolutely ME. I like to meal plan on Fridays- find recipes that are simple ( I love your 20-MINUTE SPAGHETTI WITH CHICKEN AND VEGGIES) and the get groceries on my lunch break or with the family Saturday morning. I usually pick about 4 recipes and sometimes we literally don’t have time during the week, so I am going to look in to your resources for the Essential 6- THANK YOU.

    We love to cook, so weekends are longer more involved recipes, and making extra, like a whole roasted chicken for the week, and then by Friday we do homemade pizza night with leftover veggies and store bought whole wheat dough- the kids love it.

    I’ve struggled with fitting in cooking on weeknights, because like you said, after work we’ve only got a 1-2 hours with the kids ( 1 and 4 yrs). I feel like I can’t do it all, and do it all well, if I’m working out- I’m taking time away from my kids/ hubs, and if I am cooking I’m missing out on playing with my family, and I work full time ( gone 7am-5pm), it is exhausting. Now that the baby is sleeping better I’m going to the gym at 5am again, and I love it so much, plus nobody is missing me at that time.

    Usually we tag team, if my hubs is cooking or cleaning up, I take the kids, we can’t do it together typically, nothing gets accomplished= no fun. They’ve also went from my eating everything to only eating pasta/ mac and cheese/ pizza and hot dogs- they’ll eat all fresh fruit and veggies, but when I make a meal ( soup/ baked quinoa)- it doesn’t get eaten by them and my daughter eats zero meat…. sorry this is so long, I was just compelled to say hi and THANK YOU for all the support and resources.

    • Robyn Downs

      Amber, thank you so much for sharing all of this–I love hearing what’s working for you and what’s resonating. And you are so welcome. Grateful that you’re part of this community!

  • elizabeth

    hi Robyn,
    I love your podcast and and trying to spend a lot of time looking through your resources too. I thought you did a post about a minimalist kitchen, just the essential kitchen tools and items that you need. do you know where I can find that list? thanks!