Let’s be honest… no one really has time to make a different meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. (Even your favorite nutritionists!) You’re busy running around after the kids, going to work, and just living life. This is where meal planning comes in, and finding a groove that fits best for your lifestyle will dramatically make your life SO much more manageable.

Here are some of our favorite easy meal planning ideas:

1. Leftovers are a great way to make one meal last for a few.

Whether you’re using the grill or your oven, think quantity cooking and always make more than you need for one meal. You can make chicken for dinner one night and save a little to throw into a salad the next day for lunch. A simple and delicious way to prepare chicken is to marinate it in your favorite lemon or Greek salad dressing before baking or grilling. Lightly steam veggies from your garden or the farmers market and use them for a few days in salads or heated up in chicken broth when you want a light and nourishing hot food.

2. Chia Pudding and Overnight Oats are fun and healthy breakfasts.

Make these at night and store them for a few days in the fridge. They’ll be ready when you wake up and save time making breakfast in the morning. Throw in some fresh berries and banana slices for some natural sweetness and antioxidants. The variations are endless!

Find recipes here:

Chia Pudding
Overnight Oats

3. Having a garden is a great way to have fresh produce on hand.

Even a simple tower garden with greens and herbs will help you create a healthy meal. You can pick some greens to chop up for a salad or sauté on the pan along with a protein. Even if having a garden is not possible for you, having available greens on hand in the fridge is always a good idea.When they get a little wilted, saute them in cocnut oil and garlic for a delicious side. The same can be done with undressed, leftover coleslaw, which is delicious sautéd with soy sauce.

Remember, you’re striving for a plate that is 1/4 protein, 1/4 complex carbs, and 1/2 nonstarchy veggies.

Check for local farmer’s markets and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) in your area for produce in season, as well as recipe ideas.

4. Summer soups are so simple and refreshing.

Make big batches and store in the fridge or freezer, and since they’re chilled, you don’t even need to heat them. Some mouthwatering options are Chilled Lemon Basil Avocado Soup, Tomato Mint Gazpacho, Cucumber Watermelon Soup, or Zucchini and Coconut Milk Soup.

Check out this post at Spoonful Of Comfort for recipes.

5. Freezer marinades are a great time saver.

Simply take your protein of choice (e.g., chicken, steak, fish), throw in a ziplock bag with your favorite healthy marinade and store in the freezer. Thaw ahead of time and cook in the oven or on the grill, or just pop it in the crockpot in the morning and come home to a delicious meal. Some easy marinades are honey mustard, lemon pesto, tomato basil, cilantro lime, and barbeque.

For steak and chicken marinade recipes, as well as other quick meal prep ideas, visit A Sweet Pea Chef.

Enjoy the summer with these time-saving meal-planning tips that will help you eat healthy with little effort. And once you have a foundation of good eating, you can splurge on summer treats now and again without feeling guilty!

Enjoy and BeWell!