The Other Side of Meal Prep: Meal Planning

This week I’ve been very focused on ways to improve my willpower when it comes to eating right. For instance, my writing group meets at a restaurant with very few healthy options. I don’t like to complain too much, because the restaurant lets us meet for up to 5 hours, every week, and they don’t charge us, and they don’t make us purchase food from them either. It’s a nice quiet area with spectacular views of Mount Baker. Since the restaurant doesn’t allow outside food, I have one of two choices. I can eat right before I go to group and right after group, or I can buy something to eat there.

This is another way meal prep has helped me in my fitness program. Without preparing my meals ahead of time, I would go willy-nilly into the week without any plan of action. I would end up eating more food than I need or make spontaneous food decisions while hungry. Neither of these result in achieving my goals.

When I eat out, especially spontaneously or unplanned, I find all the environmental annoyances are amplified. The buttery spread (which isn’t butter) has palm oil in it. The salad dressing for my one healthy option comes in a plastic cup. Condiments come in single-use packages. The utensils are plastic. They put a straw in my water (even when I specifically ask for water without a straw). They put my leftovers in a Styrofoam container, and place that in a plastic bag. All of which could have been avoided if I just planned ahead.

Turkey Meatballs

Meal prep and meal planning are very close in meaning. When we prepare our meals in batches, we make the unconscious plan to eat those meals throughout the week. When we plan our meals ahead of time, we then prepare our grocery list and buy all the necessary ingredients at once. Meal planning or meal prepping both help you make wiser decisions which affect your health, and impact the planet. So, it doesn’t hurt to discuss planning when developing a meal prep habit.

Lemon Herb Deviled Eggs

I am working on a comprehensive 30-day fitness guide which will help people in developing a meal planning habit. I call it the Conservation Fitness Guide, and I am including 5 weeks of meals, with shopping lists, menus, and recipes for the entire week. When we prep our meals for the week, we eat out less, because our meals are planned out. There still may come unexpected temptations and situations, but our struggle is reduced when we walk into the battle with a plan.

Here is a sample week from Conservation Fitness Guide, with a shopping list:

Conservation Fitness: Locavore Week

Week 4 Breakfast Snack Lunch Snack Dinner



Yogurt Parfait


Lemon Deviled Eggs


Turkey Meatball Casserole


Apple Butter with Toast


Chipotle Maple Salmon





Scrambled Eggs and Bacon


Apple Butter with Fruit


Turkey Meatball Casserole


Lemon Deviled Eggs


Rosemary Chicken





Paleo Breakfast Shake


Fruit and Nuts


Barbecue Tempeh


Kale Chips


Potato Leek Soup




Berry Muffins with eggs


Lemon Deviled Eggs


Turkey Meatball Casserole


Apple Butter with Muffin


Apricot Glazed Chicken

Friday Fritters Apple Butter with Toast Turkey Meatball Casserole  

Pumpkin Pie


Apple Spice Pork




Bread Pudding


Pumpkin Pie


Apple-Walnut Kale Salad


Kale Chips


Zucchini/Squash Pasta




Bread Pudding


Berry Muffin


Turkey Casserole


Pumpkin Pie


Fish Chowder

Mediterranean Pasta


Shopping List for Week 4


  • 1 pint seasonal berries
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • 15-18 apples of your choice
  • 2 bananas
  • 4 seasonal squash (winter squash or summer squash)
  • 2 bunches kale
  • 3 lemons
  • 3 lbs yukon potatoes
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 head broccoli + 1 head optional
  • Optional: head of Romaine lettuce
  • 2 medium leeks
  • 6 carrots
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 yellow onions
  • Chives
  • Choice of seasonal vegetables for 4-5 sides (broccoli, greens, zucchini, potatoes, squash, or beans)


  • Apricot jam

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenderloins
  • 1 package tempeh
  • 2-3 fillets white fish
  • 2 four oz pork chops
  • ¼ lb nitrate-free turkey bacon
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 lb salmon fillets


  • 2 dozen eggs
  • 4 oz chevre goat cheese
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 half gallon Almond/Coconut milk
  • 8 oz plain greek yogurt


  • 1 can Coconut milk
  • 2 cans pure pumpkin
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes
  • 8 oz tomato paste
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • Canned chipotle pepper
  • 8 oz tomato sauce

  • Small container orange juice or pineapple juice
  • 16 oz hummus

Dry Bulk

  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup almonds
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup granola
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup walnuts


  • 1 loaf local bakery raisin bread
  • Optional: 1 package burger buns
  • Small loaf of bread

What can meal planning do for your health and fitness? And what can it do to improve your impact on the planet?

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