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How to time block for meal planning

By James

What’s the best way to avoid making pasta for dinner again? Meal Plan.
Want to know the best way to Meal Plan? Time block.

(If you’re unaware of time-blocking, you can see another piece I wrote on the general concept of it here)

The thing that gets most of us off track and into using processed foods all the time is the time crunch… but if you time block for meal planning today, you won’t be panicking about what to have for dinner each evening.

Check out our range of healthy dinner recipes from Elevated.

If you’ve never done it, it may sound pretty foreign, but time blocking  is starting to change my life. You may be telling yourself that it’s a waste of time to spend that much time planning, but I find that planning is the key to making me more efficient.

When you create meals on the fly you duplicate tasks, make unnecessary trips to the shops, get started without all your ingredients, or get stuck in a rut and wind up serving … pasta (again). But, if you allot the time to plan, you will save time in the end and you will end up eating a better variety of fresh, delicious, healthy meals.

Meal planning is really a three-part process. You need to choose your recipes (Elevated ones if you’re a subscriber) and make your list, allot time to shop, and allot time to prep. Those three tasks are all it takes to have your meals completely organised for the week.

So your first task is to time block the space to take care of all three. First you need to block out a space to choose your recipes. You could use recipe books and the like and you need to take the time to plan a menu that gives you a variety of nutrients – for those of you who are subscribers, our Elevated recipes do a lot of that for you.

Keep it interesting so you don’t get bored and remember that if you follow our tips such as roasting two chickens instead of one, you can have a chicken dinner one night, have enough left overs for protein through the week and make a Brilliant Base Bone Marrow Broth too. Alternatively, if you make our Brilliant Base Tomato Fondue, plan it in every couple of days using the recipes that include it.

Next you need to shop. Here at Elevated, both Jason and I tend to shop in multiple stores and markets, so making a list is a great idea. These days you don’t even have to write the list down. Try asking Alexa to create a shopping list instead of asking her for your favourite tune – and it will appear in the app on your phone. No Alexa? Use Siri or another electronic list maker, or go old-school: grab your pencil and paper and get a list working but make sure you don’t leave anything out. By time blocking shopping time and creating a list you can avoid the stress of forgotten ingredients.

The last part of planning is prepping. You have to prep to make cooking a breeze. Our subscribers can use Sundays to set some of our Brilliant Bases on the go and then use them through the week. Alternatively, you can pre-chop veg, pre-cook quinoa or boil some eggs for later use. If you make time to get all your ingredients ready over the weekend, you’ll be amazed how quickly your meals come together during the week.

That’s it! If you block the time to do each of these tasks, making dinner will be hassle free. Planning saves time. And it reduces stress. And we can all use a bit of that at the moment.

Download our meal planner here to help you out

Points to remember

  1. What is time blocking? Simply put, it’s all about reserving a segment in your calendar for a certain task. This allows you to focus on that one particular task and improves your productivity.
  2. For time blocking meal planning, first you need to set aside time to choose your menu. Create a block to pick what you will be serving for breakfast, lunch, and dinner this week. No more opening the fridge and asking, “What’s to eat?” If you meal plan, you’ve got that covered. Choose recipes that work well together so your shopping list can be more efficient. Tonight’s protein incorporates into tomorrow’s lunch, etc. If you don’t have a lot of “go to” recipes (ie you’re not an Elevated subscriber) you may need to allot extra time for the recipe hunt.
  3. Next you need a shopping list and the time it takes to actually go to the shops and buy the necessary supplies. Give yourself 30-45 minutes to write down exactly what you need to cook this week’s recipes and any special shops you’ll need to hit to get everything to make it happen. Block out the time to shop.
  4. You may break these tasks up and time block just planning recipes and making your shopping list today. Then maybe you time block to shop and prep the next day and cook the day after, but at some point you’ll need to make time to prep. That means batch cooking chicken, hard boiling eggs, blanching your greens, chopping crudités or spiralising veggies for dinner. Time block a segment of your day just for prepping your ingredients so when it comes time to cook, you are ready to go and you can knock out your meals 1-2-3.
  5. People always want to jump in and get “going” without taking the time to plan. How many times have you gone to the shops without a list only to discover when you got home that you forgot three key items? Planning saves time. And it reduces stress. You don’t have to sweat going to the shops because you know that you have an hour to shop for the items on your list and you will have everything you need to finish your meals without an extra trip. Time blocking isn’t constraining; it’s liberating because it frees up all the time you would have spent trying to make up for mistakes.
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