Meal Planning for ONE

meal planning for oneA common challenge I hear from those who cook for themselves is meal planning & how to prep the right amount so you don’t have to eat tacos 5 nights in a row (though I wouldn’t be opposed to that) or see food go bad. Rather than re-invent the wheel I turned to some fellow dietitian bloggers who have already written on these topics to provide plenty of ideas & tips.

Food Prep by The Lean Green Bean
I’ve been following Lindsay for years and she is the queen of meal prep. If you don’t have time to check out all of the articles below then this is your one-stop shop. The link to this particular post is a round-up of posts she’s done on the following topics:

  • How To Food Prep – 5 Tips For Beginners
  • Top 10 Foods For Sunday Food Prep
  • 10 Foods That Freeze Well
  • How to Prep Food on the Weekend
  • Weekend Prep for Easy Weekday Meals
  • How to Eat Healthy in College
  • How to Eat Healthy During the Week
  • Healthy Snack Ideas
  • 12 Ways To Use Leftovers

Need some meal ideas for your toddlers? She’s got you covered:

  • A Month of Toddler Meal Ideas
  • 40 Healthy Toddler Meals
  • 50+ Toddler Meal Ideas (free PDF)

Soup Swap by Smart Nutrition

3 Strategies for Making Quick, Healthy Meals by Whole Green Wellness
This article has a plant-based emphasis FYI.

How to Simplify Meal Planning by Food, Pleasure, and Health

Free E-Book on the first steps of meal planning by Nourish Nutrition Co

Weekly Dinner Meal Plans (Pinterest Board) by The Spicy RD

5 Ways to Eat Less Processed Food by Katie Cavuto
Plus a meal prep cheat sheet

If you’d like additional help with implementing healthy meal prep and planning tips please fill out this form and I’ll help you get started.

What method is helpful to you when cooking for one?

How I pack lunch for my family

We pack our lunches every day during the week. Even though I’m a stay-at-home mom, packing a lunch helps me avoid snacking and I eat more balanced meals when my lunch is already prepared. Here are the 3 basic steps I use to pack lunch for my family:

meal prep

Step 0: Pre-prep
Yes, pre-prep is technically a step but this work is already done when it comes time to make our lunches. I hardboiled & peel a dozen or more eggs, drain a can of beets, and chop enough fresh veggies for the week.

Step 1: Get EVERYTHING out
This helps me avoid opening the fridge 72 times while I’m packing lunches. Everything I need from the freezer, fridge, and pantry comes out at once. All the tupperware and lids I’ll need comes out at once as well as utensils (like spoons for scooping out hummus & yogurt, a can opener if we’re having tuna). This will take a few tries to get down but for the most part we pack the same thing every night and vary the ingredients from week to week so it’s easy to know what size tupperware I’ll need and how much.

Step 2: Streamline
I line up the tupperware for yogurt and in goes the plain, full fat yogurt with a little frozen fruit (blood oranges in the pic above), cinnamon, and nuts. Nora gets a mix of coconut cream, full fat yogurt, cinnamon, a little almond milk and oats, and usually fruit (canned pumpkin in the photo above). While I’m scooping oats for Nora’s bowl I add some to a bowl with raisins and PB for Dave’s second breakfast (yes, we eat a lot). Hummus and veggies are dished out and that leaves our monster salad. You can read about the variety of toppings we use here.

Protein: Eggs & tuna
Fat: olives, balsamic dressing (on the bottom so it doesn’t make the salad soggy), the mayo mixed with the tuna, and avocado. I put half of an avocado in our salads and leave it in the skin until it’s time to eat lunch in order to prevent browning.
Carbs: greens, bell peppers, beets, bok choy

Step 3: Put things back where you found it
When I put items away, they go back to the same location every time. This saves me time that would be wasted the following night as I browse our fridge shelf for mayo or dig through the freezer for the frozen fruit.

What tips have helped make packing lunches easier?

My favorite method to hard boil eggs

I just launched a series of meal prep tips that make my life easier and I’ll be sharing my favorite tips with you so you can see that eating healthy doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive.

If you haven’t been on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve been missing out on my food tips! I recently shared my favorite method to hard boil eggs that I use every time. We go through a lot of eggs so I don’t want to waste hours of my life peeling them. Do you remember my experience with Whole30 this summer? In just one month we went through 20 dozen eggs between the two of us! Don’t worry about the cholesterol in eggs; it’s a myth that they have a negative affect on your body. Eat them often and don’t throw out the yolk!

I hard boil and peel one or two dozen each week to make packing lunches a quick event. They are ready to throw in our salads or grab for a quick breakfast (along with a banana and handful of nuts… don’t forget to have protein, fat and carbs at each meal).

Let’s cut to the chase: here’s a 10-second video showing a quick demo of my egg-peeling method and I’ll share step-by-step directions below.

How to hard boil eggs


  • Eggs
  • 1 large shallow pot with lid


  1. 1. Put eggs (single layer only) in a large pot
  2. 2. Bring eggs to a boil
  3. 3. Turn heat off and cover pot for 10 minutes
  4. 4. Drain water and run cool water over eggs until cool enough to handle
  5. 5. Drain all water but leave 1/4 inch
  6. 6. Place lid back on and shake side to side (NOT up and down) for 15 seconds.
  7. 7. Peel eggs with ease

How often do you eat hard boiled eggs?

Meal prep tips that make my life easier

My sister recently requested some tips to help make meal planning and meal prep easier. Her days at work are jam-packed and she wanted tips that would help her plan ahead so that her meals and snacks are balanced (read more on what eating balanced means). We talked about a lot of different topics:

– What does my typical grocery list look like?
– What meals make a regular appearance in my monthly menu?
– What are some good snack ideas?
– What meal prep tips do I use?

We talked on the phone about all of this and then I sent her an email answering the questions above. There are so many little things I do that I don’t even realize are particular to me. My friend put it this way:

veggie prep“That picture you posted on your Facebook page of all the veggies you prepped for the week… That’s not normal (in a good way!). I know so many moms would love to do more meal prep ahead of time but aren’t sure how to get started.”

If you’ve followed Budget for Health for any length of time, you’ll quickly see that reason I created this site is to share practical tips related to food, fitness, and finance. It’s one thing to tell you to eat more veggies and put money into your retirement fund… at Budget for Health I want to show you simple ways to eat better, move more, and manage your finances with wisdom.

Therefore, for the next few weeks, I’m going to share tip after tip I personally use that makes my life easier and healthier.

A few things to note:

1. You might not like the foods we eat. I don’t intend for this to be a “copy everything I do” series but I want you to see how I plan ahead and my routines that make it easier to do so.

2. We eat like teenage boys. I kept track of how many dozens of eggs Dave, Nora, and I went through one month this summer and it was roughly 20. No joke. It only comes out to 4 a day so it doesn’t sound that crazy when you break it down like that. You should tailor the portion sizes accordingly and listen to your hunger cues.

3. Don’t feel overwhelmed. If you are used to eating out every day then starting to pack your lunch the way I do would overwhelm you. Start with a few small changes you want to make and once they become a habit and THEN you make a few more changes. Swap out one meal a week for a healthier meal and work your way up to more days each week.

Here’s what I’m going to share with you over the next few weeks. I’ll share the link for each topic as my posts go live in case you want to bookmark this article as your one-stop-shop to see everything I’m covering in the series.

My typical grocery list
Healthy snack ideas
What goes in our daily monster salad
Make your own salad dressing
My favorite method for peeling hardboiled eggs
How I pack our lunches
How I prep veggies for the week

Kitchen tools I use every day

How I get the best deals on food

Freeze cooked beans, rice, and chicken in small portions
Cook a whole chicken in a crockpot
Pack your lunch after dinner
Make a big batch of homemade seasonings

What other tips have you seen me share on Facebook or Instagram that should be added to the list?