Making a meal plan that works takes time, in this post we’ll discuss how to find the time to do it and why it’s the best way you can use your time
I do a LOT of talking about meal planning and meal prep.
By FAR the biggest reason I hear from readers, friends, family, anyone I talk to about it that they aren’t meal prepping is that they don’t have time.
I get it.
Time is so valuable, and for most of us it feels scarce.
As moms, we wear so many hats and it always feels like you are juggling.
But when I hear someone say that they don’t meal prep because they don’t have time, I just feel so sad because I can’t help them.
You don’t have time NOT to meal plan
Because “not having time” is a limiting belief and it’s keeping you stuck and stopping you from growing and achieving the life that you want.
What exactly is a limiting belief?
A limiting belief is something that you believe to be true that is somehow keeping you stuck.
(like the myth that you don’t have time)
The problem with limiting beliefs is that they can be super super hard to spot.
Well, because simply believing a limiting belief is true makes it true, at least for you.
If you believe that you don’t have time to meal plan and meal prep, then you absolutely won’t find the time to meal plan and meal prep.
There are loads of other limiting beliefs out there (and I know that I certainly haven’t uncovered all of my own limiting beliefs yet) but today we’re just going to stick with this one.
So if you believe you don’t have time, you don’t have time? How do you solve that problem?
One of the ways to really up your productivity (and thus find more time) is to do a time- audit.
How to do a time-audit to find more time in your day
I got this idea from productivity 501.
This idea is revolutionary to help you use your time more effectively.
To do a time audit, you’ll need a timer and a notebook. You’ll want to set the timer to go off every 20 minutes throughout the day.
This will be pretty annoying, but it’s just one day and it will be so worth it to figure out what you’re doing with your time.
You’ll want to start at a weird time, say 7:17. If you start on the hour, you’ll be catching all the transition hours where you are likely to be doing something more productive.
We want a truly realistic look at your time.
So every 20 minutes you’ll write down exactly what you are doing at that time.
After you’ve done this for a full day, you’ll want to categorize your tasks.
Put label each task as 1) Very Important-things that you should be spending most of your day doing 2) Not particularly important-things that you might need to do, but they aren’t adding much value to your day and you could minimize them and 3) worthless-activities you don’t need to do at all.
When you finish your time audit, I hope you are surprised at how much time you are spending on 2 and 3 activities. If you are, that’s good news, it means you have MORE time to work with and start using effectively.
How to analyze your time audit
After you’ve done your time audit, it’s time to analyze. See what activities you could completely remove from your life with very little consequences, see what things you could streamline to become faster at, and see if you could re-order things so they make more sense.
I’ll go over how some of these things look in our home to help you out. Activities like this are really common in the work place, but maybe not so common if you stay home with your kids or work at home with kids, so I want to help you see how this could look from a different perspective.
One thing I noticed I was wasting a lot of time on was going up and downstairs to help my kids with things. My daughter is 5 and she struggles with independence and still often wants help getting dressed, getting her shoes, etc…
Her bedroom is in the basement and it seemed like every time we went down to do a simple task we were getting sucked in and unable to emerge for more (fun activities).
So, after I realized how much time we were wasting, I started putting the responsibility on my daughter. I realized that she is perfectly capable of doing most of these tasks by herself, and I give her a choice.
I explain that I have “15 minutes” to do something fun that she wants to do, but that there are things that have to be done first. Then I explain that if I have to do her sister’s hair, and then go get her dressed I might not have as much time to play. I explain that if she can get dressed on her own at the same time that I do her sister’s hair, that we will get so much more done.
This has finally worked at helping her accomplish these tasks on her own, and has saved me so much time going up and down stairs.
There are plenty of other “time-sucks” in my day. With kids, basically any transition from one activity to the next has the potential to become a time-waster, which is why implementing a simple schedule with my kids has also opened up loads of time.
Let’s not even get started about how much time you can save by putting your phone down (I’m still working on my solutions for that one though, so we’ll save that for another day).
The point here is, to take a good, hard look at that audit, see where you are spending your time that is not where you’d like to and look for solutions to make those areas better.
Okay. Now that that’s done, we’ve gotta get back into that meal planning and meal prep thing.
I hope you’ve unlocked a little bit of time with your time audit.
…the next key here after that time audit is that you have to fill that time with something useful or it will likely just get wasted on something different.
Time is so annoying like that.
So let’s circle back to what we were talking about in the beginning about not having enough time.
Why meal planning and meal prepping is the best way to use extra time
You’ve found extra time in your day doing a time-audit, but why should you use that time meal planning and meal prepping?
Well, the best reason? It’s going to open up more time.
I have a good friend shared an analogy with me about an airplane. She said that an airplane uses most of it’s fuel to takeoff and climb to “cruising altitude,” after that it’s smooth sailing and it takes a steady stream of energy (but nearly as much as it took to get started).
That’s exactly how it is with developing a meal planning and meal prep strategy.
You will definitely need time and energy to get started, there’s no doubt about that. That’s why I started this episode with an exercise to help you find more time in your day.
But the cool part?
Once you have this meal plan and meal prep strategy up and running, it will be smooth sailing and you’ll actually have even more time to come up with a good use for.
Exactly how to meal plan and meal prep is a topic for another day (and a topic that I’ve talked about extensively in the past)
But I DO just want to share a few of the ways that meal planning and meal prepping actually SAVES me time (after a small investment of time up front).
How meal planning and meal prep saves me time.
- Meal planning clears up my brain for other more important thoughts
- Meal planning stops me from wasting time thawing chicken, running to the store for “one quick thing” grabbing takeout (which is usually more time-consuming than cooking an easy meal)
- Meal Prep stops me from repeating tasks in the kitchen
- Meal prep makes cooking a mindless activity instead of one that takes loads of concentration.
- Meal planning and meal prep takes the “what’s for dinner” question off the table completely, and I ALWAYS know what we will be eating which clears up so much mental energy and space.
I truly believe it when I say that you don’t have time NOT to meal plan and meal prep. Like I said, EVEN takeout is a time-suck and you can save so much time, money, and mental and emotional energy by sticking to a system in the kitchen (instead of just doing what feels good).
Next week we’ll be talking about how meal planning and meal prep saves money as well as time. I can’t wait to chat about it.
Until next time, happy cooking (and happy planning!)