Need a weekly paleo meal plan that's healthy, easy and family-friendly? Get tips on Paleo meal planning (& learn about Prep Dish meal plans!)
Whether you're new to Paleo or a long-time Paleo eater looking to inject a bit more order into your weekly meals, I have tips for you today!
After years of creating weekly meal plans for thousands of families, I've picked up a few helpful strategies I'd love to share with you today.
And if you'd like a bit of extra meal planning inspiration, sign up for a Prep Dish free trial to try our Paleo meal prep meal plans for free!
How to Craft a Weekly Paleo Meal Plan
Creating meal plans is second nature to me now but I definitely haven't forgotten the days when it felt like a lot of work. And there's nothing more annoying than realizing halfway through the week you haven't prepped enough meals OR that you've prepped way too much and it's going to go to waste.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when you're meal planning to help determine how much to prep and what exactly to prep:
Which meals do you need?
Everyone's meal planning needs are different. Take a few minutes to determine how many, and which, meals you need. This may be the same every week or it may change as your work schedule, travel plans and kids' schedules change from week to week.
Do you need 7 dinners or do you get takeout or eat leftovers a couple of nights a week?
Do you need breakfasts or do you do intermittent fasting?
Do you want to include lunches in your meal plan or do you eat leftovers for lunch?
Write down how many of each meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) you need to plan each week. And don't forget snacks! Having a few healthy snacks available makes it so much easier to stick to your healthy eating goals.
What are your family favorites?
Staring at a blank page and trying to come up with meals each week can be frustrating. Conversely, scrolling Pinterest or browsing cookbooks every week takes more time than most of us have!
Create a bank of family favorites. This can be a written list or simply a note on your phone. Every time you cook something you or your family really loves, add it to the list! Bonus points if it's quick and easy.
Over time, your family favorites list will grow and you'll be able to refer to it each time you make your weekly Paleo meal plan, adding in new recipes as you like.
How often do you like to repeat?
Some people like to enjoy favorite recipes week after week and never tire of them. Others crave a little more culinary adventure, thriving on regularly enjoying new flavors.
Take a moment to think about your preferences. This will help you determine how often to repeat meals in your meal planning.
One advantage of our Prep Dish meal plans is we rarely repeat recipes throughout the year. There are only a couple of well-loved recipes you'll find more than once in a year on our meal plans! This built-in variety is something we hear again and again that our subscribers love.
Does your family enjoy leftovers?
Similarly, you'll need to determine if you and your family enjoy leftovers. Cooking a big batch of something to eat throughout the week can be a big time-saver…but only if your family will actually eat the leftovers!
If your family doesn't love leftovers, my “cook once, eat twice” strategy is a lifesaver. This allows you to cook a big batch of something, like chicken breast or pulled pork, and use it in different ways throughout the week.
Make it Happen
Now that you know what exactly you need in a meal plan, how can you make it happen week after week? Establishing a consistent meal planning and meal prep habit is hard. Sometimes it seems like there's not enough time to fit it in or you may simply not want to spend your weekend prepping for the week ahead.
Well, first I want to assure you that it does get easier. With time, spending a bit of time meal planning feels like second nature. Until then though, here are a few tips to make it easier!
1. Find Your Planning & Meal Prep Time
For most of us, the only way to consistently follow a meal plan is to put in a little bit of meal prep time. There's no point in planning a week of healthy meals, but getting home from work late with no time to actually cook them. Fortunately, it only takes an hour or two to prep healthy meals for the week. And it's SO worth it to come home and know there's a plan for dinner each night.
Many people like to meal plan and prep on the weekend, perhaps on Saturday morning or after lunch on Sunday. But maybe that doesn't work for you. Maybe your social calendar is too packed on the weekends or maybe you simply want to relax with your family on the weekends.
You could meal prep on Friday evenings, perhaps with a happy hour beverage in hand.
Or, plan your meal prep for Monday evening. It doesn't have to take a long time. Our weekly Super Fast meal plans take only 1 hour to prep!
Some even prefer to do a bit of meal prep throughout the week, for instance, prepping the next day's dinner while you do dinner clean-up.
The important thing is to experiment and find what works for you. Once you find your ideal meal prep time, protect it! Mark it on your calendar, tell your family that's what you'll be doing and stick to it.
2. Determine Your Keystone Habit
Habits and human behavior fascinate me. I love harnessing what I've learned about habits to make accomplishing goals (like meal prep!) seem like second nature.
A keystone habit is one small action that enables other healthy habits. For example, for many, printing out their weekly Prep Dish meal plan is a keystone habit that leads to meal prep. Just that small step of printing feels like a commitment. For me, placing my grocery order is a keystone habit. I hate food waste so I know that if I buy the groceries, I'm going to prep them and my family is going to eat them.
Think about what your keystone habit for meal prep might be.
Is it laying out your meal prep containers on the counter and not putting them away until they're filled with prepped food?
Is it downloading a playlist you're excited about to listen to while you prep?
Is it emailing your significant other with the meals you plan to make the next week so you're both looking forward to them?
You can learn more about keystone habits in this episode of my podcast, Meal Prep Monday, here!
3. Consider Done-for-You Weekly Paleo Meal Plans
If you want to follow a weekly paleo meal plan but this all seems like way too much work, I'm here to help!
I know some people dread meal planning (or simply don't have time), but I love it. That's the whole reason I started Prep Dish! I know the difference meal prep can make in a person's week, in the way a family eats. I also know that not everyone has the time or inclination to spend time every week crafting a meal plan. And that's okay!
At Prep Dish, we provide our subscribers with 4 meal prep meal plans every week: gluten free, paleo, keto and super fast (just 1 hour to prep!)
The meal plans include an organized grocery list, detailed meal prep instructions and simple instructions for how to finish cooking the meals the day you want to serve.
If you'd like to try one for free, just click below for a free trial!
4. More Paleo Resources
Here are a few more Paleo resources and recipes to add to your weekly paleo meal plan!
How to Eat Paleo – What You Need to Know: This is a great one for anyone new to Paleo, or to pass on to your curious friends or family who want to learn more about the paleo lifestyle.
Paleo Meatloaf: I love taking family classics like meatloaf and creating healthier, but just as delicious, versions. This meatloaf is every bit as delicious as the one you ate as a child but totally paleo and, of course, meal prep friendly.
Healthy Shepherd's Pie: My shepherd's pie uses half mashed cauliflower and half mashed potatoes for the perfect balance of flavor and nutrition.