Simplifying meal prep & planning is an absolute game changer when it comes to eating beautiful, real, healthy food.

Because meal prep & planning doesn’t have to be complicated, boring, or time consuming.

Read on for the Simplified Guide to Meal Planning & Prep.

The Why

Simplifying meal planning and prep takes a some upfront work, and also requires a mindset shift.

The time and work to learn a new process and shift your thinking is so worth it, though, as it will allow you to streamline, reduce decision fatigue, and create time and space for what you really love.

1 | Streamline

Designating time and space for meal prep & planning allows you to streamline the entire process of eating healthy, vibrant, real food, saving you precious time, money, and wasted effort in the long term.

2 | Reduce Decision Fatigue

Deciding what to make for dinner and gathering the correct ingredients requires mental energy better spent on other things.

By simplifying the process, you’ll reduce decision fatigue and have more mental energy for the things that matter most.

3 | Create More Time and Space for What You Love

Simplifying means less time spent on scrambling at the last minute, which means you’ll have more time and space for what you love, while still enjoying beautiful, healthy food, everyday.

The first step in simplifying meal prep & planning is creating a clean, organized space.

Creating a Capsule Pantry is a great place to start when you’re ready to simplify.

Similar to a capsule wardrobe, a capsule pantry is made up of a limited number of versatile ingredients that you’ll love to eat, and that can be combined into a variety of easy, delicious meals.

Focus on the Essentials

Now that you’ve created space, it’s time to get organized.

Focus on adding back the essentials so that you can create versatile real food meals with ease.

Here are 3 simple steps to get Focused on the Essentials:

1 | Organize

Gather ingredients and organize them by type.

For example, group proteins together in the freezer, and place grains + bases together in the pantry.

2 | Audit

Prior to creating your grocery list, do a quick audit of your fridge, freezer & pantry to see what needs restocking. Then make your grocery list to fill in the gaps.

Tip: Stock up on the essentials such as grains, beans, and protein when they go on sale, online, or at your local wholesale store.

Freeze what you can’t use within a few days in individual serving sizes.

3 | Quality Over Quantity

Less is more when it comes simplifying real, healthy food. If your budget allows, invest in higher quality ingredients for maximum flavor.

Real Food 1-2-3

When it comes to simplified meal prep & planning, it’s all about ditching complicated plans and endless hours prepping.

Simplifying starts with a 1-2-3 process. Here’s how to do it.

1 | Meal Types

Instead of relying on complicated recipes, focuses instead on meal types.

By starting with meal types instead of rigid recipes, you’ll be able to create a loose plan that allows for greater flexibility and ease in the process.

The Meal Types:

2 | The Essential Six

Focus on the building blocks of any recipe, or The Essential Six, which can be combined to create fresh new meal types each week.

The Essential Six:

3 | The Mix & Match Method

Simply select a meal type, then mix & match the Essential Six to create versatile, customized meals.

Scroll to the end of this post to grab your free guide to Simplify Meal Planning & Prep!

Prep with Focus

Like meal planning, simplified meal prep doesn’t have to take hours.

Streamline your process by focusing on prepping the Essential Six, then using the Mix-and-Match Method to prepare weeknight meals, effortlessly.

1 | Start with a Sauce

If you only have a few minutes, consider preparing a few sauces for the week to keep in the fridge and add variety to any meal.

2 | Add a Grain or Base

With a little more time, try prepping some grains for bases for the week.

3 | Go for Protein

Whip up a batch or two of protein, and you’re well on your way to streamlined weeknight meals.

Shift Your Mindset

Like most things that matter, simplifying meal prep & planning takes time and a powerful mindset shift.


Letting go of perfect when it comes to meal prep & planning will make all the difference in sustained, long term success.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, or all-or-nothing.

Start small. Meal map one day. Prep one thing. Do what you can and let the rest go. You’ve got this.

What are your favorite ways to simplify meal planning? Share them below, and tag @realfoodwholelife on Instagram so I can see what you’re up to!

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