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6.5 Steps To Less-Stress Meal Planning 

Let’s be real. Meal planning can sometimes suck. It’s stressful, takes time, preparation and planning, especially come holiday time!

But, here’s the real meal deal. You wanna stay on your goals and keep feeling and looking the way you do, right? 

There is ONE crucial step to meeting those goals. You’ve gotta do what you need to do, and part of that is preparing and planning,  specifically with your food.

I saw something this weekend that truly disturbed me. I was hanging with my mom and came into the kitchen to see her looking confused, frustrated, and stressed out! 

There were cookbooks and recipes strewn all over the table with a list of meals needed along  with coupons and items on sale at different stores.   

Clearly, this wasn’t her cup-of-tea! 

I said, “Watch’ya doing?” And she responded like this, “This is ONE of THEE most stressful things to do.” So I asked her what she was needing and she laughed and said, “An in-home chef!”  We would all love that, right? But then I asked again and said – “No, really mom, what do you need?” She said, “ I just wish I had an organized way of going about this. I feel it takes me so long to just get a plan down and by the time I go shopping I’m so exhuasted! …Then,  to come home and cook and prepare food is just double exhausting. 

So, I decided to whip out my trusty Marvelous Meal Planner (click to download). Now, I’m not the type of person to give meal plans – so this isn’t a meal plan. Think of this like a map. A road to give you some direction. As with anything – take what will work for you and pitch the rest. 

I came up with 6.5 Simple Steps to help inspire YOU (and my mom) to infuse some fun and inspiration into meal planning. Meal plans are a great way to stay on track. They actually help you save time and keep you within a budget. Now I know, we are all super super busy, AND having a meal plan is sometimes the only thing that keeps me on track. Now, once in a while I fail to plan ahead.

But 80% of the time I make sure I know what I’m eating and where my food is coming from and I’ll tell ya – having a plan helps me  get to 79.99% of the way there.

Let’s reframe this situation shall we? 

Instead of thinking in “have to do ” and “needs” – how can you transform grocery shopping and meal planning and prepping to someting you actually want to do. Sweet hint: What will this ultimately help you to achieve? 

Once you’ve got that, you’re golden!! This is the fuel that will keep feeding you even if your energy is running low! 

Alright, ready to get meal planning? I’m gonna walk you through this! 


Are you the type of person that likes to create your own recipes or do you want some outside help from others? Either way, you’ll want to start from a place of what you’ll be making. It’s kinda like baking a cake. You need to know what ingredients you’ll be working with first. 

Pick out some recipes for the week (stick with 6-7) don’t overwhelm yourself.

If you’ve got one or two blogs that you’ve been following or a cookbook that you’ve been eyeing – pull those up on the computer and dust off those cookbooks and open them up! They are full of inspiring food photos, scrumptious names that make your mouth-water and other ideas! It’s also in this step that you do your checks and balances. What ingredients do you already have? What do you need? 

Some of my favorite cookbooks include: 

 Crazy Sexy Kitchen (awesome plant-based recipes)

Thug Kitchen (Def. lightens the mood and you’re sure to get some good laughs, but PS – there is a whole lotta swearing so kiddos put your earmuffs and blindfolds on because this cookbook has got some naughty language, FYI) 

I Quit Sugar  (fabulous food ideas) 

The Earth Diet (amazing whole food recipes)

Some of my favorite food blogs include: 

DeliciouslyElla (whole real foods with a purpose) 

Food Sense (beautiful food-spiration!)

Elana’s Pantry (gfree baking!) 

GF Mom Certified (gluten-free home-cooked meals!) 

The Philosophie (superfoods galore!) 

Once you’ve tagged 6-7 recipes, move on to step 1.5.


Know where and when you’re going shopping. Pick out the places that you need to hit up and set a time that is going to work for you and your schedule. It doesn’t have to be a weekend. I prefer shopping later at night when the store as quieted down,usually during the week. 


After you’ve got your ingredients, it’s time to get cooking, gals and guys! Make sure to make double batches of things so you’ve got them throughout the week AND you can freeze pretty much anything!


Once you’ve made your food, the inevitble happens. You’ve got too much and you don’t know what to do with it. No fear, dressing up your left-overs leaves you in the clear! Ask yourself what leftover can be used in other dishes, wrapped in a tortilla or lettuce wrap, put in a soup, sautéed with other veggies and meat or over a salad? This is where your creative juices start flowing! 


Prepping anything in advance is so helpful especially in this busy, busy world! Pre-prep your veggies for on-the-go snacks, pre-make your smoothies and set up your meals for the next day so you’re not left hangry! (hungry + angry!) 


Shop 2x/week. You don’t have to get everything all at once. Make your list and your meal plans for 2-3 days and buy what you need. Shopping in smaller spurts for fresh veggies, fruits and meats can help with your budget, food waste and time. 


Make sure to keep your snacks handy! Make an emergency food kit (learn how to make one here) and pre-prep your snacks like trail-mixes and fruits or hummus and veggies. 

Use these “done-for-you” sheets to inspire you to shop, cook and prep your way to feeling fabulous! 

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Now, I’d love to hear from you! 

What is ONE simple idea or inspiration you took away from this blog and what’s one tip you’re going to take action on today or share your favorite cookbooks and/or blogs! I’d love to know what you love! 

Let me know below. Your comments, questions and stories help to inspire others on their journey to heatlh!



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  1. Ashley
    November 12, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    Where do I click for the meal sheets?

    • Elyse Wagner
      November 13, 2014

      Hi Ashley!

      Great questions. In this paragraph, “So, I decided to whip out my trusty Marvelous Meal Planner (click to download). Now, I’m not the type of person to give meal plans – so this isn’t a meal plan. Think of this like a map. A road to give you some direction. As with anything – take what will work for you and pitch the rest.” Click on Marvelous Meal Planner. It should pop up in a new tab for you to print!


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