Summer Anti-Inflammatory Meal Prep to Beat the Heat in Under an Hour

Today we’re doing anti-inflammatory meal prep for SUMMER that balances blood sugar, fights inflammation, and packs in nutrients from fresh seasonal produce.

I really love to eat seasonally, I think mother nature provides us with specific nutrients we need for each season, but also—it costs less to buy produce that’s in season.

summer anti inflammatory meal prep plan guide gluten free sugar free

Now I love to prep ingredients to be able to throw together, but I also know that weeks are CRAZY so it’s also important to have recipes that you’ve prepped for so you have as little as possible to think about during the week.

That being said—let me know in the comments if you like doing meal prep with actual recipes—or if you like prepping ingredients to assemble meals and snacks as you see fit throughout the week.

So this summer meal prep does both of those things – And I’ve created a PDF with instructions and links to the recipes so you can do this meal prep easily at home. 👇

Get the (free) Summer Anti-Inflammatory Meal Prep Guide!

summer anti inflammatory meal plan

Beat the summer heat with this 1-week gluten-free, sugar-free meal plan and prep guide! Featuring delicious anti-inflammatory recipes from fresh summer produce!

So today we’re meal prepping :

  • Cherry Almond Smoothies
  • A batch of Low Carb Blueberry  Scones

And our summer anti-inflammatory dinners we’re prepping vegetables and sauces for this week are:

  • Grilled salmon with sauteed green beans
  • Paleo Chicken Fajita bowls
  • Low Carb chicken and eggplant Parmesan casserole
  • Pesto chicken and zucchini and squash medley
Grilled Salmon with Sauteed Green Beans

Grilled Salmon with Sauteed Green Beans

Low Carb Eggplant Parmesan Casserole

Low Carb Eggplant Parmesan Casserole

Paleo Chicken Fajita Bowls

Paleo Chicken Fajita Bowls

Pesto Chicken with Zucchini and Squash Medley

Pesto Chicken with Zucchini and Squash Medley

So let’s get started prepping!

Summer anti-inflammatory meal prep steps

woman unpackaging summer vegetables on a countertop

Pre-step 1: Get out your prep foods and supplies, and wash everything

So to get started I get all that produce out. I get out my cutting board, my good knives, and a pan to roast the veggies on.

Then I go ahead and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and wash all the veggies really well.

placing a sil-mat on a sheet pan with summer vegetables on a counter top

Some people like to use a Sil match to roast veggies on because stuff doesn’t stick, but I found it really hard to find one of these that fits my pan perfectly.

I do still use this for things that I bake that won’t leak into the oven, but for roasting veggies I found a secret kitchen tool that I accidentally stumbled onto.

It’s a barbecue grill mat and I’m telling you nothing sticks to this! They usually come in a pack rolled up all nice in a box (linked below).

placing a grill mat onto a sheet pan with summer vegetables on a countertop

And what I do is actually cut them to fit my pans that have lips so that they fit perfectly. And I’ve done this with baking sheets and I’ve also done this with CorningWare dishes.

(Disclaimer: This is an affiliate link, so if you decide to purchase this product, I made a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra charge to you.)

BBQ Grill Mats

BBQ Grill Mats

>>> Check out ALL my Best Kitchen Tools for Meal Prep HERE!

Now for this summer meal prep session, I’ve got zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, green beans, bell peppers, and onions.

summer vegetables on a cutting board and counter top

Step 1: Chop

Once I make sure that everything’s been washed, I get started chopping.

So the way you want to chop veggies when you’re roasting them for meal prep like this is to try and cut them all around the same size. This just ensures that all those vegetable chunks cook at about the same rate.

Squash and zucchini

For the squash and zucchini, I just slice them in half lengthwise and then just chop slices all the way down.

sliced eggplant on a cutting board

Eggplant

Eggplants are tricky for some because they are part of the food family called nightshades. Nightshades cause inflammation in some people, but this isn’t a guarantee. Research has shown that nightshades causing inflammation is highly personal to each individual and any conditions they have, and the best way to know if you personally react is to do an elimination diet.

I like eggplants because they’re pretty filling but they have a soft texture without being mushy with liquid. Eggplant slices are really great for eggplant parmigiana, so it may help to slice it if you’d like to use it that way.

I’ve been told by an Italian chef before that they sometimes do that and leave the skin on to help the eggplant slice stay intact during cooking.

But I also like to peel mine and cut it into those kind of half-slices or half-moon slices to roast as well. One thing I’ve learned through the years about eggplant is that you may need to switch your peeling tool depending on the thickness of the skin.

For safety’s sake use a much smaller paring knife to get the eggplant skin off.

peppers and onions on a sheet pan

Bell peppers and onions

Then I moved on to my peppers and onions. For bell peppers, I usually will cut off the top and then I’ll work the knife around the insides to pull out that seed pod.

Then I’ll turn it upside down and give it a tap to get all those seeds out and then flip it upside down to cut it into slices. I did the same thing with my green, red, and orange bell peppers.

Then when those were done I peeled the skin of my onion. And then I cut the rest of it into larger slices to roast with the bell peppers.

These all get spread out onto a lined sheet pan as well.

Seasoning

Once I’ve got enough veggies to fill a pan I place all the chunks in sections.

The easiest way to prep roasted veggies–especially when you have recipes from different cuisines–is to do just the basic seasoning of:

  1. oil,
  2. salt,
  3. pepper,
  4. and garlic powder if you want

I used avocado oil because it has good monounsaturated fats, which is great for pulling down inflammation, and it also has a high smoke point. You can use the mister if you want a lighter coating of oil rather than it being drizzled.

Step 2A: Roast

Then everything’s ready and goes into the oven. We have a double oven so I actually take full advantage of that on days like this when I’ve got several pans to cook all at the same time.

I’ll just leave the light on in there so I can check in case something may need to come out a little earlier.

roasted summer vegetables on a baking sheet

The general time that I cook these summer vegetables is about 30 minutes.

While those are cooking, I’m gonna take advantage of that time in the oven and chop anything else, mix up my batter for the blueberry scones, and then assemble my marinades and sauces.

Other veggies that don’t get cooked

The last thing in this session that I did was chop green beans. I do like roasted green beans, but we’re having Grilled Salmon with Sauteed Green Beans for one of our meals this week.

I love sauteing green beans during the summer because the fresh ones taste really great when they still have a bit of crunch to them.

cutting green beans on a cutting board

So the green beans did not get roasted but they did get put into a storage container in the fridge.

Step 2B: Bake

And while everything is still roasting, we’re gonna mix our scone batter.

I want to go ahead and mix my batter for the Low-Carb Blueberry Scones, because as soon as the roasted veggies come out of the oven, the scones go in.

We start out mixing the dry ingredients, mix in all the wet ingredients, and then combine it really well. Then pour the batter onto a pan lined with parchment and shape it into a circle.

Chopping fruit

The summer fruits we’re using this week are blueberries, cherries, and limes.

The lime just needs to be sliced and juiced which takes no time, so I’m gonna leave that till the night I need it.

And I’m using frozen tart cherries, but if you’re using fresh, you’ll need to wash them, take the stems off, and pit the cherries to get the seed out. Then you’ll want to freeze them in a baggie until you need them for your smoothies because you want them to be nice and frozen.

So really the only prep for fruit is the cherries if you need to do that.

Chopping herbs

And then moved on to the herbs. This week I need cilantro and basil.

So I’m just gonna take the amount needed from the recipes and pull it from the stems.

herbs on a cutting board

Both of these recipes require the blender, so there’s really no need to go all out chopping these herbs unless your blender has a hard time pulling larger leaves like that down while it’s blending.

Veggies out | Scones in

By this time the veggies should be done in the oven, so we’ll pull the roasted veggies out of the oven to let them cool, and then the low carb blueberry scones go in at 350 F for 30 min.

Step 3: Assemble

Now that everything’s chopped and ready, and I’m still waiting on the scones to finish baking, I can start assembling prep packs and containers for stuff that will go in the fridge until the night or day I need it.

Smoothie packs

So let’s start with the Cherry Almond Smoothie packs. I’m making 2 of these for the week, and we just throw all the ingredients into a baggie that’s labeled.

These little handy things I’m using are called Baggie Stands, and I’m telling you—this makes it SO much easier to use baggies for storage when you have anything liquid, because if it tips at all—you’ve got liquid all over the counter if you don’t use these things.

That does NOT happen with these baggie stands.

You can grab them here: 👇

Baggie Stand Holders

Baggie Stand Holders

>>> Check out ALL my Best Kitchen Tools for Meal Prep HERE!

This recipe also includes a few ice cubes, but we hold off on those until the day we make them.

You can write instructions for the ice on the baggie too if you want. And then once those are made, they go in the fridge.

Marinades, dips, dressings

Next we’ll mix the marinades, dips, and dressings.

Fresh Cilantro Lime Dressing

The Cilantro Lime Dressing is gonna go on our Paleo Fajita Chicken Bowls and can also be used for dressing on salads, so you can double or triple this recipe if you want.

cilantro lime dressing with an avocado and lime

The ingredients just go all in the blender, blend it on high, and pour it into a container to seal and store in the fridge.

Homemade Low-Carb Marinara

Nex is our Homemade Low Carb Marinara for the Low-Carb Eggplant Parmesan Casserole. Now if you can find no-sugar added marinara in the store, it may be easier for you to just buy it made already. If you can’t, then this recipe is great.

And as long as you can find crushed tomatoes, you don’t even need to blend it if you don’t want to.

low carb marinara in a jar

Simply pour the ingredients into a saucepan, let it cook about 10-15 minutes, then when it’s cooled, store it in a jar in the fridge.

Fresh Easy Pesto

And last is our Easy Pesto—this is for our Pesto Chicken with Zucchini and Squash Medley, and again—is super easy.

All the ingredients go into the blender.

Now if you can’t find pine nuts, a good alternative is macadamia or even cashews.

pesto in a container with crackers and basil leaves on a platter

You just throw it into the blender, pulse it several times and then pour it into a container to seal and store in the fridge.

Scones out

When the timer goes off, you’ll pull the scones out of the oven and let them cool before cutting into them.

sugar free gluten free blueberry scones

You can alternately wrap the whole thing and store it in the fridge and cut it as needed during the week.

Cooling + storing meal prepped vegetables

The last step is getting the cooled veggies into containers to store in the fridge.

In our house, we use glass Pyrex storage containers that are rectangular shaped. I’m not sure who thought using round containers inside of a square-shaped fridge was a good idea of it in our house it pushes other dishes around and nearly pops them out of the fridge regularly, so we use square or rectangular shaped.

And then when they’re cool enough put the lids on and you can stack them nice and neat in the fridge until you need them during the week.

anti inflammatory foods in meal prep containers

Then during the week, you have all your veggie components ready to go for the week for these recipes.

And if you happen to have leftovers from your meal prep at the end of the week, my favorite way to use it is to make a nourish bowl or macro bowl with all the leftovers.

Now, as I mentioned at the start, I’ve created a summer meal prep guide for you that should hopefully make meal prep a little easier because it has the full prep guide as well as links to all the recipes.

And—when you grab the free PDF for the summer meal prep, you also get a huge discount on the blood sugar balancing Summer Anti Inflammatory Meal Prep Kit that has 4 weeks of summer meal plans, full recipes, and prep guides that include breakfast and snacks, lunches, dinners, and even desserts and cocktails—all sugar-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free adaptable!

Get the (free) Summer Anti-Inflammatory Meal Prep Guide!

summer anti inflammatory meal plan

Beat the summer heat with this 1-week gluten-free, sugar-free meal plan and prep guide! Featuring delicious anti-inflammatory recipes from fresh summer produce!

Let me know in the comments: What summer anti-inflammatory meals are your favorites?! 💖 🍍

📌PIN IT FOR LATER! 👇

The 15+ Amazing Best Kitchen Tools for Meal Prep that I Use Every Week

These are the best kitchen tools for meal prep that I use and LOVE in my household and recommend to others!

Meal prep isn’t just a trend, it’s really a revolution of efficiency. But truthfully, it gets even more efficient when you have the proper and best kitchen tools for meal prep.

As a nutrition specialist and health coach, some of the first things I discuss with clients are the roadblocks to making healthy eating happen, whether it’s general healthy foods or sticking to a dietary style for weight loss , food intolerance, reducing inflammation, or managing a condition like prediabetes. Lack of time is usually the biggest reason named, but it doesn’t have to be (which is what I work through with clients).

My philosophy is to always merge healthy + efficient to make an anti-inflammatory lifestyle doable daily.

Here are the best kitchen tools for meal prep that I feel are the most efficient in their own right to make meal prep happen with the least amount of frustration.

best kitchen tools for meal prep

Ninja all-in-one system

Ninja All-In-One System

Ninja All-In-One System

This Ninja system has everything you need to chop, dice, spiralize, blend, cream, and so much more! It comes with a bullet-sized smoothie cup, large blender, crazy-sharp blades that are absolutely amazing, a food processor bowl for chopping and ricing, and the smaller attachment for grating and spiralizing.

It also includes a dough blade! This system eliminates the need for 3 different appliances, and also has preset functions so you can push the button and walk away while it does its thing!

Instant pot 8-quart 9-in-1

Instant Pot 7-in-1

Instant Pot 7-in-1

This larger 8-quart Instant Pot has the size to cook larger or smaller amounts, and eliminates the need for a separate slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, saute pan, and more!

You can sear meat right in the pot before setting to slow cooker, you can use as a pressure cooker and even cook meats that came straight from the freezer (anyone forget to thaw something for dinner??), and it has settings for different types of meats, rice, eggs, yogurt, potatoes, and so much more.

It seriously eliminates the need for multiple different cooking devices! It even has a function for sterilizing! (Baby toys or bottles, anyone?) My feeling, especially if you have a lack of space, is that the best kitchen tools for meal prep can multi-task.

(I like the larger size because it can fit so much more or cook less.) And if you really wanna get high-tech crazy, there’s even a “Smart Wifi” model!

KitchenAid Stand Mixer

The KitchenAid stand mixer is another amazing all-in-one. It obviously mixes hands-free, but it comes with dough hook attachment AND whisk attachment.

But it also has a MILLION AND ONE add-ons! For example, meat grinder, spiralizer, pasta maker, juicer…. honestly the list goes on! The Aqua Sky color is the most popular, but check out the link below to explore all color options!

KitchenAid Stand Mixer

KitchenAid Stand Mixer

Silmat set

Silicone Baking Mat

Silicone Baking Mat

Ok, this may sound crazy, but this Silmat is amazing and eliminates the use of oil sprays or coatings when baking! I love that I have the option of cooking oil-free and know that it won’t stick!

I also love that this set has multiple sizes since not all baking sheets are the same size.

These can be used in baking sheets (whether baking, cooking, or roasting) or on the countertop for rolling out doughs WITHOUT the use of extra flour! The best kitchen tools for meal prep will also help eliminate extra ‘stuff’ you have might otherwise have to buy, like parchment paper, oil, flour, etc.

BBQ Grill Mats (my secret tool!)

BBQ Grill Mats

BBQ Grill Mats

Even though I love silmats, they pose the problem of not ever fitting inside my rimmed baking sheets or even my corningware and glass dishes. These BBQ grill mats solve that problem because they can be CUT to FIT PERFECTLY inside any pan!

Not only that, NOTHING sticks to them, and they’re easy to clean! (Win-win!)

Baggie Stand holders

Baggie Stand Holders

Baggie Stand Holders

Baggie stands are something I never knew I needed until I used them. Like something in my head told me this would be incredibly helpful, but having them makes my life so much easier when I meal prep!!

(Ever have a biggie fall over while pouring liquid in? 😭Yeah…no bueno.) With these baggie stands– PROBLEM SOLVED!

Reusable Storage Bags

Qinline Reusable Food Storage Bags

Qinline Reusable Food Storage Bags

If you’re a serial MEAL PREPPER like I am, or even WANT TO BE— these reusable storage bags ARE FOR YOU! I use a TON of baggies in meal prep!!

We also send berries, chips, granola, etc in baggies for the kids to school because we either make our own stuff, or buy the large bag and divide for cheaper snacks.

These reusable bags eliminate the overwhelming amount of plastic being thrown away, but also the overwhelming amount of baggies I’m buying every month!

Glass Food Storage Containers

Glass Food Storage Containers

Glass Food Storage Containers

Whether you do weekly meal prep or not, getting rid of plastic food storage containers is a MAJOR upgrade for your health!

I love these glass storage containers because they’re dishwasher safe, microwave safe, oven safe, and even freezer safe! They’re extremely versatile! Perfect for meal prep. Perfect for leftovers. Without the icky BPA.

Also, they don’t melt in the dishwasher. All the plastic meal prep containers you can buy will eventually lose their shapes (sometimes sooner, depending on the water temperature in your dishwasher). The glass meal prep containers are good to go forever.

And one last point– I’ve switched to rectangular and square-shaped storage containers because I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea to try and fit a round storage container in a square-shaped fridge, but I’m done having dishes ‘pop’ out of the fridge when trying to find something or make room for something else. 😉

Misto Oil Sprayer

Misto Oil Sprayer

Misto Oil Sprayer

For some dietary styles, reducing total oil is a must. And honestly, sometimes a ‘drizzle’ is a bit too heavy when it comes to oil.

Which is why I love the Misto oil sprayer. It’s free of butane (like is in cooking spray you buy at the grocery store) and you can use the type and quality of oil YOU prefer.

Silicone Muffin Pans

Silicone Muffin Pans

Silicone Muffin Pans

Silicone muffin pans are a dream for bakers and meal preppers alike! No more rusty pans. No more muffin papers.

No more sticking or using non-stick sprays. Oh yeah, and no more washing silicone muffin wrappers individually!!​ HUGE time saver for me!! (Remember: healthy + efficient!)

Saute Pans + Skillet

All Clad Sautee Pan + Skillet

All Clad Sautee Pan + Skillet

In case you’re been under a rock the last decade, you already know the reason Teflon isn’t normally used on skillets any more. And although that non-stick surface was hella useful, it’s crazy toxic.

Next best non-stick thing? Ceramic-coating! (If you have an induction cooktop, make sure to confirm the cookware works on it before purchasing!)

Fry Cutter

Fry and Vegetable Cutter

Fry and Vegetable Cutter

Although it’s not hard cutting a potato, cutting them into perfectly sized fries can be super tedious. That’s why I love our fry cutter.

One disclaimer on this one: I have several videos where I use a different brand. The one I use has never given us trouble, but on Amazon, it has a pretty low rating.

So I linked to an alternative with much better reviews and one that’s pretty darn durable. If your family likes home fries, this thing saves a TON of time and headache!

Enamel Coated Cookware

Enamel Coated Cookware

Enamel Coated Cookware

If you love the versatility of being able to go from cooktop to oven, or even fridge to cooktop or oven, then enamel coated cookware is the way to go!

The only ‘con’ I have to these is that they are very heavy because they’re cast-iron on the inside, and that means my kiddos can’t feasibly handle them, and also it means it’s nearly impossible to hold the skillets at an angle to pour contents out.

Otherwise, these pieces should last for years (and many high-end brands like Le Creuset should last a lifetime). Plus you can get them in a ton of really preeeetty colors! 🌈

Good Knives

Samurai Carbon Knife Set

Samurai Carbon Knife Set

The best kitchen tools for meal prep will always include a quality set of sharp knives. A good sharp set of knives can mean the difference between beautifully and quickly sliced foods and an urgent trip to the ER.

Invest in some really good knives!! Better knives cost more, but they last longer and are more durable. Plus if they get dull, you can sharpen them!

Mixing Bowls

KitchenAid Nesting Mixing Bowls

KitchenAid Nesting Mixing Bowls

This may sound like silly advice, but coming from someone who VALUES minimalism these days, a really GOOD, DURABLE, POURABLE, and STACKABLE set of mixing bowls that only takes up a SINGLE shelf in my kitchen is a mega win!! 🏅

Not to mention that this specific set has graters and a slicer you can attach right on top of the bowl!!

Proper Labeling Tools #1: Sharpies

Sharpies

Sharpies

When doing meal prep, the gold standard for labeling baggies is the good ole’ Sharpie. And while I LOVE me some colored Sharpies, unfortunately teal and lighter colors just won’t cut it. Use BLACK, DARK BLUE, PURPLE, or RED.

Proper Labeling Tools #2: Dry Erase Markers

Dry Erase Markers with Magnetic Cap

Dry Erase Markers with Magnetic Cap

Guess what—DRY ERASE markers aren’t ONLY for a dry erase board!! They’re PERFECT for labeling FOOD CONTAINERS when you’re meal prepping or have leftovers!! 🤩

THESE dry erase markers are my favorite, because they have a fine tip, are black (same importance as the Sharpie situation), and they have a magnet, so you can keep it on the side of the fridge for easy access when labeling leftover containers!

*And a tip–although you may be super tempted to use the wet-erase version (usually Vis-a-Vis brand), DON’T! If any moisture gets on the container, the words will smear right off onto your hands and then take 17 days to get off… speaking from experience.)

Meal Prep Cutting Board

Meal Prep Cutting Board with Drawers and Graters

Meal Prep Cutting Board with Drawers and Graters

Ok, so I’ve saved the BEST for last. I never realized how much of a pain it was cutting up tons of veggies and fruits for meal prep until I started. This is my FAVORITE thing ever!

A cutting board with containers for what you’ve chopped under it! Eeeekkk! There are a couple of other options for meal prep cutting boards, but this one is by far my favorite!

So there ya have it! My list of the 15 best kitchen tools for meal prep! Keep in mind it’s not a dire situation if you don’t have these or can’t afford them right now. They simply make it easier to meal prep.

Got any more suggestions? Let’s hear them in the comments below!

Know someone that could use advice on what the best kitchen meal prep tools are? SHARE this post!

best kitchen tools for meal prep

Top 3 Mistakes in Anti Inflammatory Meal Planning + What to Do Instead

So look, meal planning can be tough enough on its own, but when you add in a dietary style that you’re totally new to, that just makes it that much more complicated. 

When doing anti-inflammatory meal planning there are three major mistakes that I see clients making over and over again that are costing you serious time, money, and the ability to get those anti-inflammatory meals cooked and on the table every night so that you can feel amazing every day. So let’s chat about those to make sure you’re not making those same mistakes, and let you in on what to do instead.

top 3 mistakes in anti inflammatory meal planning

🌟Don’t know which foods are on the ‘go/no-go’ list for an Anti-Inflammatory Diet? Check out ‘Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Beginners’

Anti Inflammatory Meal Planning Mistake #1: Being overly ambitious

Mistake number one is being overly ambitious and thinking that you need to cook every night of the week.

So I get it–when we get excited about something new (especially if it’s supposed to help us reach our goals like managing a condition, getting your blood sugar under control, or even kick-starting weight loss), we just want to jump all in…But I want you to slow your roll for a minute because when we get overly ambitious and think that we need to cook every single night you’re sorta asking for trouble.

top 3 mistakes in anti inflammatory meal planning

The problem is that when we decide to jump all in and cook every single night, we’re going to get completely overwhelmed. And the usual response to getting overwhelmed is to shut down and do nothing. So I want to prevent that and just kind of take a step back instead. 

The reason that we’re going to take a step back on that is that when you stop putting that kind of pressure on yourself and allow yourself to learn in a really more relaxed way where you can learn to enjoy planning, prepping, and cooking and then appreciate what this dietary style can do for your body. 

So instead what I want you to do is maybe start out cooking three to four dinners in your first few weeks to get started…And take that time to get used to the types of food that you can be using. There’s a little bit different way of cooking sometimes for anti-inflammatory meals and I want you to really just kind of get the hang of what this whole dietary lifestyle and style is about before getting overwhelmed with the whole meal planning part of it. 

One of the really great strategies for this is when you cook those three to four meals go ahead and cook a little bit more so that you can have extra for other meals… which leads us into mistake number two. 

>>> Check out ALL my Best Kitchen Tools for Meal Prep HERE!

Anti Inflammatory Meal Planning Mistake #2: Not cooking enough food

So before you get all up in arms and overwhelmed at that let me just explain. It takes no extra time to cook 4 servings of a recipe versus 8 servings of a recipe. You’re simply using double the ingredients so what I want you to think about is that when you’re only cooking one recipe at a time for whatever meal that is you’re missing out on the opportunity to save so much time later. 

The reason why that happens is that whenever you cook more you have extra time, you have a fallback, and you have a backup plan. 

top 3 mistakes in anti inflammatory meal planning

I know a lot of families who do one night a week for leftovers for dinner, (we absolutely do that because it saves me cooking one night of the week and it also saves all of the other clean up that happens, and it cleans up whatever is left over in the fridge.) 

So instead, think about doing one and a half or even doubling up on your recipes. You do also have the option to take one recipe and cook it for your dinner that night and then make a second one at the same time to freeze for later. So I always recommend doing that and or making double at the recipe so that you can have enough for lunch the next day. 

I work out of the house but whenever I did not work out of the house I would get into that hangry situation right before lunch because I’d been really busy working and usually forgot to have a snack. So by the time lunch got there I was just being like in this annoyed, starving state where I really didn’t care what I went to eat, so I would just grab the closest most convenient thing that I could. Which would never work out on this type of dietary style. 

So if you make enough for lunch the next day you can be assured that whatever you’re eating for lunch is compliant with the anti-inflammatory diet and that way you’re not even worrying about what you’re eating the next day because you know that it fit in because you made it for your dinner the night before.

Mistake #3: Not setting enough time aside

Mistake number three is not setting enough time aside for meal prep and for actual cooking

So the problem in this is that you’re making things more frantic for yourself if you have kids–and especially smaller ones. This could actually be pushing their bedtime later which we know makes us more stressed out and most of all you’re stressing yourself out trying to frantically cook a whole meal when you don’t really have enough time to cook it. 

top 3 mistakes in anti inflammatory meal planning

Here’s why: When you do allow yourself enough time, it just makes your time spent cooking way more relaxing… You just assemble the ingredients cook what needs to be cooked at your own pace, no rush…Instead of frantically running around with your hair on fire just to get dinner ready. 

But it also gives you peace of mind during the day because you know that those things are already prepped and ready to go and have the extra time to cook dinner. 

I can’t tell you the number of clients that tell me that even though they have meal plans technically done they still have anxiety about getting the meals actually cooked at night because of how long it will take. 

What to do instead is to make sure that you schedule in an hour maybe on Sunday (or one other day at the start of the week) to meal prep: chop veggies and even go ahead and make some of the meat even sauces. Sometimes if it’s a casserole a lot of those ingredients are pre-cooked and then you can just assemble them the night of and then just stick them in the oven so that you have as little to do as possible on the day of.

Bonus points!

Add even more bonus points if you go ahead and shop and then prep all of your veggies the minute that you get back inside with the groceries so that you’re saving yourself an extra trip of taking things back out of the fridge just to chop them and then put them back in the fridge.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve been making any of these mistakes (or even others that I didn’t touch on!)

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anti inflammatory meal planning mistakes

Spring Anti-Inflammatory Meal Prep Plan and Guide

If you’re looking for an easy way to pack in yummy and healthy seasonal anti-inflammatory meals, this Spring Anti-Inflammatory Meal Prep Plan and Guide is for you!

anti inflammatory meal prep for spring

I really love to eat seasonally, I think mother nature provides us specific nutrients we need for each season, but also—it costs less to buy produce that’s in season.

Now I love to prep ingredients to be able to throw together, but I also know that weeks are CRAZY so it’s also important to have recipes that you’ve prepped for so you have as little as possible to think about during the week.

So this spring meal prep does both of those things –

And I’ve created a PDF with instructions and links to the recipes so you can do this meal prep at home.

Get the (free) Spring Anti-Inflammatory 

Meal Prep Guide!

Spring into feeling fabulous with this 1-week gluten-free, sugar-free meal plan and prep guide! Featuring delicious anti-inflammatory recipes from fresh spring produce!

Spring Meal Prep Recipes

So today we’re meal prepping :

So let’s get started prepping!

Instructions

The order I like to do  my prepping is to:

  1. Chop all the vegetables, herbs, and fruit,
  2. Mix and bake anything that needs to go in the oven,
  3. And then while that’s cooking or baking, put together marinades and dips to store in the fridge until you need them during the week.

So let’s start with chopping everything.

Chopping

For this spring anti inflammatory meal prep session and meal plan, I started out chopping the vegetables – which were broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and onion.

Baking + Cooking

There are more veggies that I need to chop, but we can just go ahead and put that in the oven at 350 F for about 25-30 minutes and work on other stuff while that’s roasting.

While those are cooking, we’re gonna finish chopping fruits so we can get our smoothie packs, salad, and marinades put together, as well as get the muffins ready to go in the oven.

The spring fruits we’re using this week are oranges, strawberries, and lemons.

  • The orange needs to be zested, sliced in half, and then juiced.
  • The strawberries just need to be washed and then the leaves cut off the tops and cut in half or quartered—this mostly depends on your preference.
  • And the lemons just need to be sliced and juiced.

Then I want to go ahead and mix my batter for the strawberry muffins, because as soon as the roasted veggies come out of the oven, the muffins go in.

We start out mixing the dry ingredients: mix in the wet ingredients, and then combine it really well. Then divide the batter evenly into the muffin tins.

By this time the veggies should be done in the oven, so we’ll pull the roasted veggies out of the oven to let them cool, and then the strawberry muffins go in at 325F for 20-25  min.

Once the veggies are cool we’re gonna put them in separate containers to be stored in the fridge for side dishes through the week.

Remaining veggies + herbs

Next, I chopped the potatoes, and then moved on to the herbs. This week I need parsley, chives, and dill.

I also need some chopped almonds. You can buy these in slivers or chopped, I just happened to have whole ones, so I needed to just give them a rough chop.

Now that everything’s chopped and ready, and I’m still waiting on the muffins to finish baking, I can start assembling prep packs and containers for stuff that will go in the fridge until the night or day I need it.

Assembling prepped items for the fridge

Smoothie packs

So let’s start with the orange creamsicle smoothie packs. I’m making 2 of these for the week.

And we just throw all the ingredients into a baggie that’s labeled.

These little handy things I’m using are called Baggie Stands, and I’m telling you—this makes it SO much easier to use baggies for storage when you have anything liquid, because if it tips at all—you’ve got liquid all over the counter.

That does NOT happen with these baggie stands. You can find them online right here (affiliate link):

Baggie Stand Holders

Baggie Stand Holders

>>> Check out ALL my Best Kitchen Tools for Meal Prep HERE!

This recipe also includes a few ice cubes, but we hold off on those until the day we make them. You can write instructions for the ice on the baggie too if you want. And then once those are made, they go in the fridge.

Marinades, dips, and dressings

Next we’ll mix the marinades, dips, and dressing.

This Green goddess dressing is so fresh, you’re gonna absolutely love it! I like to make a really big batch of it so there’s enough for the chicken recipe and dressing for the week- we’ll be using it on our broccoli strawberry salad too.

So for the dressing we’re gonna use a blender cup, and put all the ingredients in. It’s super easy to make, you just throw it in and blend it on high.

Now, we’re gonna use part of it as a marinade for the Green Goddess chicken, part is to drizzle on the chicken once it’s cooked, and the extra is for dressing for salads for the week.

So we put our chicken in a labeled baggie, then pour just enough to coat the chicken, then store the green goddess chicken in the fridge, and for the rest of the dressing, store it in a sealed container or baggie to go in the fridge as well.

Next up is the lemon dill sauce for the salmon burgers.

First we’re gonna dump all the ingredients in a bowl.

Then we stir really well, then get it poured into a sealed container or labeled baggie to go in the fridge.

Next is the Homemade ranch dip. This is for the blanched veggie platter we’ll make in a few minutes.

Again- this recipe is super simple, and using a recipe like this eliminates the artificial junk and MSG that’s normally put into ranch dressing mix and dip mix.

So you start with organic sour cream, and just put all the other ingredients into it and stir really well. If you’re gonna store this for the week, you really can just mix it up right in the container it came in and then store it in the fridge until you need it.

And the last marinade we’ll make is for the Lemon Greek Chicken and Potatoes

And this marinade is actually for the vegetables, not the meat. The recipe has two separate steps for the vegetables, so using our baggie stands again, we’re gonna put potatoes, oil, and onions in one bag, and the asparagus and olives in the other. Then we just seal them up and store them in the fridge until the night they’re needed.

Next I’m gonna go ahead and prep the salmon burgers for the week.

To do that, I chop up the salmon into tiny pieces- do this rather than putting in the food processor, because it makes the whole thing too mushy really fast-

Mix in the rest of the ingredients,  then shape into patties.

These are super easy to stack on parchment and store in the fridge until the day you need them. When you cook them you’ll dredge them in arrowroot flour first and then cook them in oil in a skillet.

So, depending on how long your prep is taking, your strawberry muffins should be coming out of the oven, and when they’re cooled you can store them a few days on the counter, or make them last longer in the fridge.

Blanched Vegetables

The very last thing I’ll make is the Blanched Vegetables—Now the reason I love to blanch veggies for a platter is because they taste amazing, and also, it deepens the color of the vegetables to make it that much prettier!

Blanching is actually really easy. You use a large pot and either a steamer basket or a colander basket. You can do without if you don’t have one, but it’s much easier to use a basket.

Saucepan with Steamer Basket

Saucepan with Steamer Basket

>>> Check out ALL my Best Kitchen Tools for Meal Prep HERE!

Then you boil the water, put each vegetable in for 3-5 minutes, then immediately put it into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Make it like an assembly line to be really efficient with this.

Then put each in a bowl to drain the excess water out, and you can store them for the week or go ahead and make a platter and then store it covered in the fridge.

And if you happen to have leftovers from your meal prep at the end of the week, my favorite way to use it is to make a nourish bowl or macro bowl with all the leftovers.

Now, as I mentioned at the start, I’ve created a spring meal prep guide for you that should hopefully make meal prep a little easier, because it has the full prep guide as well as links to the full recipes on the TRUEWELL website.

Get the (free) Spring Anti-Inflammatory 

Meal Prep Guide!

Spring into feeling fabulous with this 1-week gluten-free, sugar-free meal plan and prep guide! Featuring delicious anti-inflammatory recipes from fresh spring produce!

20 Winter Foods that Decrease Inflammation in the Body

For those with chronic inflammatory conditions, the transition to winter can either be a happy prelude to the holidays, or it can harbor an increased need for winter foods that decrease inflammation in the body. Freezing temperatures have a gift for making some inflammation worse.

winter foods that reduce inflammation in the body

It also drives most people indoors, which can hamper daily walks and outdoor activity altogether, which is a key component of managing inflammation.

Combine that with rising stress and loads of inflammatory foods around the holidays and you have a perfect storm of chaos in the body for those trying to manage blood sugar and inflammation.

The good news is that there’s still a ton of winter produce that are amazing sources of antioxidants with anti-inflammatory superpowers.

There really is no shortage of sources of winter superfoods to help nourish and heal for those of us following an anti-inflammatory diet.

There are three main categories of anti-inflammatory winter foods that decrease inflammation that I want to highlight:

  1. Veg and Fruits,
  2. Herbs,
  3. and Spices.

Here are my favorites.

Anti-inflammatory Winter Vegetables and Fruits

WANT MORE WINTER ANTI-INFLAMMATORY MEALS? CHECK OUT THE WINTER ANTI-INFLAMMATORY MEAL PREP SESSION! (4+ MEALS WITH FRESH WINTER PRODUCE! –> PERFECT FOR CRAZY WEEKS WITH NO TIME TO MEAL PLAN!) CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

Leafy Greens

Even though leafy greens start their appearance in the summer, winter leafy greens follow with even more flavor since many greens are significantly less bitter during cold weather. This means their warm, earthy flavors really shine during the winter.

Greens like kale, collard greens, and swiss chard are packed full of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate, other minerals, and antioxidants. And they’re versatile enough that many can be eaten raw (don’t knock a winter salad!), cooked, as a stand-alone side, or even as a casserole or soup component.

woman touching winter greens

Cruciferous Vegetables

Vegetables in the cruciferous family include Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage, and are chock full of vitamins like folate, K, C, and A, as well as phytonutrient compounds that lower inflammation. And they also have the benefit of less bitterness during colder weather, like the leafy greens of winter.

What’s great about cauliflower is that in addition to its vitamins, fiber, and phytonutrients, it’s very low in carbohydrates. This makes it an amazing substitution for anything from rice to pizza dough to mashed potatoes.

anti inflammatory winter leafy greens

Cabbage’s brilliant colors are due to its anthocyanins which help pull down inflammation and are super antioxidants. Not only is it a great way to have a winter version of tacos with slaw, but it goes spectacularly raw in salads or cooked in soups or casseroles. If you’re not sure which color to choose, just know that purple cabbage’s vitamin A content is eleven times higher than green cabbage.

Brussels sprouts are what we call ‘baby cabbage’ at our house. They’re full of fiber, vitamins C, K, and folate, and are super easy to cook. Simply sliced in half and roasted is how we usually cook them. But they can also be shredded and included in salads, soups, or casseroles as well.

Pumpkins

Pumpkins provide an amazing source of Vitamin A (the color gives you that hint on beta carotene), balanced polyunsaturated fats, Vitamins C and E, and several other essential minerals.

They’re also packed with fiber and healthy carbs, and can be stored for a long period of time (in a dry pantry or frozen) without going bad.  

mushrooms on a wooden cutting board

Mushrooms

One of the most warming foods during winter, mushrooms should top your list of required eating during the cold weather. Mushrooms are full of B vitamins, potassium, and the only vegetable that contains vitamin D (which is already in demand during winter months.)

Its nutrient-dense properties qualify it as a superfood with antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties that also happens to add that coveted ‘umami’ flavor to any culinary dish.

Beans

Beans are an amazing add-in for winter meals for several reasons. First, they’re bursting with fiber and resistant starches, and they’re full of antioxidants—both of which give them anti-inflammatory superpowers. Although their carb content is higher than other vegetables, they’re considered a ‘slow carb’, which means they absorb at a much slower rate. This helps prevent a blood sugar spike and gives healthy carbohydrate energy over a longer period.

Beans are also super hearty and perfect to add on as a side dish, or in soups, stews, or chilis.

HAVE A DINNER PLAN IN PLACE FOR THOSE CRAZY WINTER WEEKS, WHILE ENJOYING THE FRESH WINTER PRODUCE WITH THE (free!) WINTER ANTI-INFLAMMATORY MEAL PREP GUIDE! {Click the image below!}👇

winter anti inflammatory meal plan

Colored Potatoes

Although white potatoes are full of fiber, resistant starches, and essential minerals, studies have shown that their colored versions pack way more of a punch when it comes to inflammation and blood sugar levels.

Studies have shown that purple and yellow potatoes contain higher levels of antioxidants including phenols, anthocyanins, and carotenoids that lower inflammatory markers and improve blood sugar and insulin levels.

Purple potatoes were shown to have the greatest benefit, possibly due to the higher levels of polyphenols, which are indicated by the darker color.

What’s great about these is there’s no special preparation aside from how you would prepare regular white potatoes (except don’t fry them!). Baked, roasted, steamed, and added into soups is great. But I wonder how fun it would be to have purple mashed potatoes!

beets on a wooden cutting board

Beets

One of the most overlooked vegetables (in my opinion) is the beet. Beets are high in folate and manganese, but also contain betalains, which gives it the bright red color, and is associated with reduced cancer risk.

Not only can you eat the beet itself, but the greens are also a fantastic source of nutrition. Beets can be roasted, sauteed, pickled, or boiled; and the greens can be used in salads or saved for soup broths.

Cranberries

One of the most popular fruits during the holidays, cranberries owe their deep red color to their huge supply of antioxidants, including vitamin C. Their bioactive compounds have been shown to reduce risk factors of a multitude of chronic diseases, including lowering inflammatory markers.

Although cranberries are pretty tart, they can be cooked into a sauce (using zero-calorie natural sweeteners), added into baked breakfasts and snacks, or even blended into a vinaigrette. If you opt for dried cranberries, just make sure they’re unsweetened.

Citrus

Probably the most well-known sources of vitamin C, citrus fruits are aplenty during winter. Vitamin C is an especially potent antioxidant that fights free radicals and inflammation. They also contain flavonoids and fiber, which also fight inflammation.

Citrus like lemons, limes, organges, and grapefruit are super versatile and can be used in anything from flavoring water and cut up in salads, to being used as a dressing, in a snack, or as dessert. They also do an amazing job complimenting flavors of meats while tenderizing as marinades, as well as pairing beautifully with herbs in dishes and cocktails!

oranges, grapefruits, and pomegranates

Pears

Pears have always felt like the lesser-valued cousin of apples, but I’ve come love pears just as much. They’re packed full of fiber and are rich in antioxidants that reduce inflammation. The skin of pears contains quercetin, which is amazing for those with allergies, and it also reduces inflammation.

But they also can be much easier to slice, core, and eat as the skin can be much softer than an apple’s. This makes them super easy snacks (like this Winter Pear and Yogurt Bowl), and super yummy desserts.

Pomegranates

These little jewels may be small in size, but they’re big on flavor and nutrition. Their antioxidants have been shown to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the gut, brain, and body.

Anti-Inflammatory herbs for winter

Herbs are one of the most overlooked nutrition powerhouses in the plant family. They pack so much punch for such a little plant. But they’re also SO EASY to add into any dish for extra flavor, including throwing fresh sprigs into salads.

Here are my favorite anti-inflammatory herbs for fall.

Tarragon

Although tarragon is more commonly used in French and English cooking, it’s a delicious herb that—like most—contain powerful flavonoids that fight inflammatory cytokines. It also contains B vitamins, folate, and vitamins A and C. As with most fresh herbs, it’s best to wait until a dish is almost completely finished cooking before adding it in for maximum flavor.

herbs and garlic on a marble countertop

Rosemary

Rosemary is full of iron, calcium, and vitamin B-6, and is also native to the Mediterranean—fitting for an anti-inflammatory diet rooted in the Mediterranean diet. It’s been used for a wide range of ailments including digestion, muscle pain, improved circulation and memory, and a boost to the immune system.

Aside from its fragrant and mouthwatering culinary powers, studies have proven its anti inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and neuroprotective properties. This means that even though it can fight free radicals and harmful bacteria, it can also be used in mood disorders, enhanced learning, anxiety, and sleep disorders.

Sage

Sage not only adds delicious earthy notes to fall and winter dishes, but also can be used in teas and as an essential oil. Sage is high in Vitamin K and vital minerals, but also contains antioxidants.

What’s so amazing about sage is that it’s been shown to relieve or cure illnesses like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression, dementia, and lupus. But it’s also been used for centuries in traditional medicine for inflammation, bacterial, and viral infections, which makes it high on the list for cold and flu season.

thyme and lemons

Thyme

Thyme (another herb native to the Mediterranean) can be used as a treatment for anything from acne to GI disturbances to menstrual cramps (and a ton of stuff in between!) But it’s actually an extremely versatile culinary addition. It has an earthy flavor but can waver back and forth between savory or sweet dishes like stocks and stews, roasted vegetables, teas, and desserts.

Anti-Inflammatory winter spices

Although spices can generally be used year-round, the warmth of the following five are perfect for the freezing weather.

Black Pepper

Being a staple ingredient in most kitchens, black pepper can blend into the background and largely be overlooked. However, studies on the compound piperine in black pepper have shown that it can increase absorption of curcumin (the compound in turmeric) by up to 2,000%!

It’s also been shown to increase absorption of other key minerals and antioxidants, making it an absolute must in literally any savory dish you cook from now on.

This alkaloid compound gives a distinct bite flavor and has been shown to reduce insulin resistance as well as exhibit anti-inflammatory effects.

black pepper and turmeric with a spoon

Ginger

Ginger has been touted to help anything from boosting the immune system, lowering blood sugar, and easing inflammation. Probably it’s most famous claims to fame include taming the GI tract and pulling down inflammation. These benefits are made possible due to the over 400 compounds that ginger contains.

Ginger has a fresh, zingy flavor, and although the dried version (teas and spice shakers) have a milder flavor than fresh, they can still have nearly the same health benefits. It’s best to use fresh, and ginger root can be cut up and put in the fridge or frozen to last even longer.

Turmeric

Turmeric is used traditionally in Asian dishes, but has been widely recognized the last few years because of its media coverage as an amazingly effective nutritional supplement. Turmeric contains curcumin, which is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound.

Studies have shown that the best way to harness the power of turmeric is to combine it with black pepper, which increases its bioavailability up to 2,000%.

Turmeric is obviously fantastic in Asian dishes like curries, but it’s skyrocket in popularity means there are tons of recipes now for drinks, smoothies, and all kinds of dinner dishes.

fresh ginger and dried ginger in a canister on a countertop

Cinnamon

There can be a lot of confusion over the type of cinnamon that’s best to use. Ceylon (known as ‘true’ cinnamon) and cassia (what you buy in the grocery store) are equally delicious and contain a compound called cinnamaldehyde that’s thought to be responsible for its health and metabolism benefits.

Cinnamon has been shown to contain more antioxidant activity than any other in a study against 26 other spices, is a potent anti-inflammatory, and has been shown to reduce insulin resistance (among other benefits).

winter spices in spoons

Pumpkin pie spice

Honestly  my favorite spice for winter is a combination of several spices: Pumpkin pie spice. This mixture obviously enhances pumpkin flavor, but can be used in a variety of recipes in fall and winter (usually around the holidays.)

The components of pumpkin pie spice include cinnamon and ginger, which we already covered. The other ingredients are nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and black pepper.

What’s so great about the blend in pumpkin pie spice is that all the ingredients have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds just like the other spices mentioned.

So as long as you use healthy sweeteners and anti-inflammatory ingredients for whatever pumpkin spice recipe you’re making, you essentially have a superfood recipe with powerhouse ingredients for winter!

Let me know in the comments: What’s YOUR favorite anti-inflammatory winter food or recipe?

Grab the Winter Anti-Inflammatory Meal Prep Kit! {Click the image below!}👇

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winter foods that reduce inflammation in the body

Quick and Easy Anti-Inflammatory Meal Prep for Winter

This winter anti-inflammatory meal prep isn’t just packed with nutritious and delicous seasonal winter produce– it’s a pretty darn quick and easy meal plan. I started out doing meal prep sort of on the fly by just shopping seasonal produce, and prepping it ahead of time to just make meals on the fly throughout the week. But I do also need a structured meal plan a lot of times as well.

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

But doing either way is a great way to make sure you’ve got anti-inflammatory meals through the week (especially when you’ve got those chaotic dumpster fire weeks when you need nourishing meals to keep you calm and collected even when nothing else in your life is.)

Click the image below to grab the free Winter Anti-Inflammatory Meal Prep Guide! 👇

winter anti inflammatory meal prep guide

The basic steps of anti-inflammatory meal prep are:

  1. Shop
  2. Chop
  3. Roast
  4. Store
  5. Create meals

Shopping for your anti-inflammatory meal prep session

For this winter meal prep session I grabbed a pumpkin, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, purple cabbage, kale, and collard greens.

We promote eating seasonally at TRUEWELL for a few reasons:

  1. Eating seasonally costs less
  2. You’re not getting produce that came from halfway around the world (in other words–you’re getting produce more local which means much more flavor, less transport and less chance of it getting harvested before it’s ripe), and
  3. Studies have shown produce that’s grown IN SEASON actually has substantially greater values of vitamins and phytonutrients than those out of season.
anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

(And just to be clear on why I didn’t roast the pumpkin in my video… my kids freaked out about me roasting the pumpkin–cause they wanted to decorate it, and I had canned pumpkin in the pantry, so I used that for the meal that week…Long story short, kids ruin everything. 😂 Kidding. sort of)

Chopping veggies for your anti-inflammatory meal prep

So I started out with the spaghetti squash because it needs to be roasted, then needs to cool before you can scrape out the insides.

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

These used to intimidate the heck out of me but they’re actually pretty cool. For this session I cut the squash in half lengthwise, then cut strips; but I think it’s actually easier to just roast the halves and then scrape the insides out from those large pieces.

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

I have also learned that even scraping the seeds out is much easier when they’ve been roasted first.

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

So lay the pieces out evenly on a pan.

I use a BBQ grill mat liner, which I’ve learned is amazing, nothing sticks to it, which you can grab here:

{Some of the links are affiliate links, meaning I earn a small portion of the proceeds if you purchase it, with no additional charge to you.}

BBQ Grill Mats

BBQ Grill Mats

Next I started on the butternut squash. Cut the ends off, then cut it in half vertically.

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

Lay each half on the pan face down.

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

Then I started on the leeks. I peeled a few of the outside leaves, cut the end of the bulb off, then cut a slit down the center before chopping it. The dark green ends usually get pretty tough, so cut the white part and some of the lighter green part, then put it on the pan to roast as well.

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

Some of this produce is really best cooked right before eaten, as it’s sauteed or put into soups. But the squash always needs to be cooked anyway, and I also knew I wanted to put the leeks into a soup. So for sure these all needed to be roasted.

Roasting vegetables for anti-inflammatory meal prep

My normal base seasoning is salt, pepper, and garlic powder, which you can add or wait until you make your dish—And then roast it at 350 degrees F for about 25-30 minutes.

(For squash, it may take a bit longer to get it soft enough. You want to be able to scoop and scrape easily or else it will take forever…)

Then I got to work on the kale, and I knew I just wanted it for kale chips. You would think the bags of it already chopped would be more convenient, but I’ve found it takes longer to pick out all the stems than to just buy a bunch of it and trim them off myself.

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

I do a sort of scraping motion with the knife to get the leaves off, but you can also fold it in half and do just one cut to get the stems out.

Once all the leaves are torn and in a bowl, add oil, and massage it to soften the fibers.

For kale chips, don’t salt it until they’re out! They shrink and can turn out way too salty.

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

Kale chips go in the oven for about 20 minutes at 300 F.

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

Storing your anti-inflammatory meal prep vegetables

While that was cooking, I started cutting the greens.

I started on the collard greens. I wanted these to go in a soup, so I just washed them, trimmed them up the same way as kale, then store them in a baggie in the fridge until I need them that night.

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

👉 A method I’ve found useful is using a large 4-cup measuring cup to hold the baggie in place to put food into during meal prep if you don’t have the baggie stands.

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

The mustard greens got trimmed up the same way, and I wanted to sauté them later in the week, so I just store them in a baggie in the fridge as well.

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

Then I started on the cabbage. Peel those tough and usually dirty outer leaves, then chop it into slices, then into smaller pieces. I wanted to sauté it later in the week, so it goes into a baggie as well to store in the fridge.

I also grabbed some pears as a last minute add-on.

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

These can be peeled, but the skins are usually actually less tough than apples, so eating the skins is pretty yummy. Make sure you get the core out, it does have seeds like apples.

I chunked it up because I wanted to add it as a snack on top of Greek yogurt.

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

One trick is to cut the bottom off so it sits flat, then the top small part, then use an apple corer and slicer to slice it just like you would apples.

If you’re going to pre-cut them, they do also turn brown like apples, so add a bit of lemon juice to keep that from happening and store them in a container in the fridge.

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

Lastly we take the roasted veggies out of the oven and let them cool.

I put the leeks into a container to go in the fridge.

Then I started on the butternut squash. I’ve found using a grapefruit spoon with a serrated edge make scooping the seeds and flesh out really easy.

But I also sometimes use an avocado slicer to scoop it out. You can also use a paring knife to slice around the edges before scooping the flesh out.

Serrated Edge Grapefruit Spoons

Serrated Edge Grapefruit Spoons

Avocado Slicer Tool

Avocado Slicer Tool

Henckels Paring Knife

Henckels Paring Knife

>>> Check out ALL my Best Kitchen Tools for Meal Prep HERE!

I put it all in a container and seal it to store in the fridge.

Spaghetti squash can be a bit tricky. It definitely needs to be soft enough. But you can use a fork to scrape the spaghetti parts out into a container. Then store in the fridge.

And lastly, I pulled the kale chips out. Then I season with garlic and salt so it doesn’t get oversalted before because it shrinks. Scoop them into a container and enjoy as a snack.

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

Create anti-inflammatory dinners for the week

The meals for this winter anti-inflammatory meal prep session were…

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

Pumpkin alfredo on spaghetti squash with grilled chicken…

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

Leek and cauliflower soup

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

Sauteed chicken sausage and red cabbage

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

Creamy Collard Greens Soup (with butternut squash)…

anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

And for a snack I had a Winter Pear and Yogurt Bowl.

And as promised, to grab the FREE Winter Anti-Inflammatory Meal Prep printable guide, just click the image below! 👇

winter anti-inflammatory meal plan

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anti-inflammatory meal prep for winter

Quick and Easy Anti-Inflammatory Meal Prep for Fall

https://youtu.be/_7J-Bq8GoGU

Anti-inflammatory recipes are a great addition to a healthy eating pattern as they can help manage, prevent or reverse the effects of inflammation in the body.

Ingredients like dark leafy greens, beets and cauliflower are packed with anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce chronic pain and prevent age-related illnesses.

Eating anti-inflammatory foods doesn’t have to be bland or boring either, as there are plenty of fresh and healthy recipes to choose from that cater to different dietary needs. Incorporating these recipes into your meal prep routine can help balance your blood sugar and reduce chronic inflammation.

What is an anti-inflammatory diet?

An anti-inflammatory diet focuses on consuming foods that have anti-inflammatory properties, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

It aims to reduce chronic inflammation in the body, which can help prevent chronic diseases and promote overall health and well-being.

What are the benefits of anti-inflammatory meal prep?

No matter the season, your life is probably super busy. We have 4 kids (3 at home), and regardless of whether school is in or it’s summer or even winter break, things are always sorta chaotic.

So this method has actually been a lifesaver for us so that on weeks where I don’t even have the brainpower to put a meal plan together, this is our lifeline.

We have a backup.

No thinking about it all day, no scrambling at the last minute, and definitely no ultra-processed, inflammatory, and overpriced drive-thru or takeout.

So I’m gonna show you how to meal prep with fall anti-inflammatory foods (meaning: in season for fall in the US).

I’m also linking the example meals that we made for the week with all of the produce that we got.

And if you scroll a bit, you can get the GUIDE that shows you the details for all of this so you can keep it on hand for ANY time you have weeks like this.

Step 1: Choose your produce

So for anti-inflammatory meal prep, you start out by simply choosing a bunch of SEASONAL produce.

Our shopping order for this meal prep session I got:

  • broccoli,
  • brussels sprouts,
  • kale (can be already chopped up in a bag),
  • mushrooms, you can choose any kind,
  • sweet potatoes,
  • regular potatoes,
  • an onion,
  • sage,
  • and cauliflower.

And all of this was just random stuff that I know my family will eat and that gave us a pretty good variety for meals this week.

Step 2: Prep your workspace

And after washing all the produce, I pre-heated both ovens for 350 degrees F.

The tools you’ll need for your meal prep session are a large cutting board, good knives, and roasting pans- probably with a lip, and something to line it with so stuff doesn’t stick.

Now I use something I found by accident with is a BBQ grilling mat—I love these because I can cut them to fit perfectly in my pan and NOTHING sticks to them—they come in a pack all rolled up in a box.

(Some links may be affiliate links, meaning if you click on and then purchase, I’ll get a portion of the proceeds, at no additional charge to you.) 🙂

BBQ Grill Mats

BBQ Grill Mats

>>> Check out ALL my Best Kitchen Tools for Meal Prep HERE!

Step 3: Get your base seasoning out

So our base seasoning includes avodado oil to drizzle on, I use this to cook with because it has a high smoke point. Or you can use something like this Misto spray can where you put the oil in, pump air in to build pressure, and spray it on.

Then season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and it’s ready to go in the oven.

Click the image below to grab the free Fall Anti-Inflammatory Meal Prep Guide!👇

fall anti-inflammatory meal prep guide free pdf

Step 4: Prep foods that cook the longest first

So, even though I didn’t have full meals planned out when I got all this produce, I had a loose plan for a few things. So I knew I’d want to do baked potatoes one night, so since they take an hour to bake you’ll want to do these first if you’re doing baked potatoes one night.

And for baked potatoes, you just coat each one individually with oil, salt it, wrap it in foil, and then punch some holes with a fork.

Once I’ve got those all set and into the oven for one hour, I get to work chopping everything else.

Step 5: Prep all other foods that cook the same length of time

Broccoli and cauliflower

I started out with broccoli, and just basically cut all the florets off—and if you don’t like to chop you can always buy the bags where it’s pre-chopped. It does save time, but may cost a little more.

Once these were all cut up, I put them all on the pan on one end, because I put the cauliflower on the other end.

Then I started with the cauliflower and removed that large base then cut those into florets as well, breaking some of them apart. And you can also buy these prechopped if you don’t like cutting them up- it does save a lot of time and mess.

Then I placed all those on the second half of the pan where the broccoli was. I cook these on the same pan because cook at right about the same rate.

And then I wanted a bit more flavor than just our base seasoning, so I chopped an onion into chunks and just spread it out evenly on the pan.

Brussels sprouts

Next I prepped brussels sprouts, and the easiest way to do these is chop off the end piece slice them in half and lay them face down on the pan.

I arranged mine with a hole in the middle for all the loose little leaves because they get extra crispy and are a super yummy snack!

Then drizzle or spray with oil, then season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.—and they’re ready to go!

Mushrooms.

I decided to split the mushrooms and do half chopped pretty small and the other half roasted.

I chopped one half because I like to mix them in with ground meat to give it bulk and really boost the vitamin content-and my kids can never tell! I don’t precook those, so I just put them in a baggie to store in the fridge until the night I needed them.

The other half I just spread out on the pan, and I had a pack of sage I grabbed at the store as well—this is such a fragrant and nutrition-packed herb, and perfect for colder weather.

So I just chopped some of it, sprinkled it on the mushrooms, then added our oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and it’s ready to go.

Sweet potatoes

I roughly chopped the sweet potatoes because I had loosely planned mashed sweet potates with cinnamon- my kids love those- and the rest I planned to use in my lunches during the week.

But that meant that all of them needed to be chopped.

Regular potatoes

Then I started on the rest of the regular potatoes I had. So for the ones I wasn’t using for a whole baked potato, we like to sometimes do homemade fries and this tool makes it super easy.

It’s a fry cutter and has this grid blade inside to cut the potato in perfectly squared fries.

So how it works is that you take the lid off, place the potato wedge on top of that grid, then put the lid on and push it down to force the potato through the grid. And you have perfectly shaped fries.

Fry and Vegetable Cutter

Fry and Vegetable Cutter

So I repeated this process until I got all the rest of the potatoes cut, then put them with the sweet potatoes on a pan, because they cook at about the same rate. I got them all seasoned and ready for the oven.

Step 6: Put all prepped veggies into the oven

All of the veggies go into the oven at that 350 degrees F for 30 minutes- just keep an eye out and take out anything that’s cooking a little too much.

Step 7: Any veg that won’t be pre-cooked

And the last thing I prepped was kale. Since this came in a bag, I picked out any bad pieces since it was already chopped, and planned to wilt some one night for dinner, and then would have a massaged kale salad one night as well.

So once all the bad pieces were picked out I just stored it in a Ziploc in the fridge.

Step 8: Remove veggies from oven

And when they’re done, just take all the pans out, and let them cool…

Step 9: Store prepped veggies

Then start putting them into your storage containers.

I do recommend putting them in separate containers because some veggies do have a higher water content and a lot of times they get a little bit mushy in there and you don’t want that water running into the other vegetables.

And then you’ve got all your veggies prepped for the week! You can store all of these AND your baked potatoes in the fridge until the night you need them.

4+ Meals with pre-prepped fall anti-inflammatory vegetables

The meals we cooked with our freestyle meal prep session were:

Chicken sausage with the broccoli and cauliflower,

Baked potato with shredded chicken, sugar-free bbq sauce, mushrooms, and brussels sprouts,

Turkey burgers that had the chopped mushrooms with sage built into it, and those homemade fries with Dijon mustard for dipping, and a massaged kale salad, AND

Lemony baked cod with wilted kale and mashed sweet potatoes with cinnamon.

And there ya go! That’s how to do Fall Anti-Inflammatory Meal prep!

Don’t forget to click the image below to grab the free Fall Anti-Inflammatory Meal Prep Guide! 👇

📌PIN IT FOR LATER!

5 Inflammatory Holiday Foods to Avoid this Year

I’m SOOOO ready to be inflamed, in pain, and on a blood sugar and energy rollercoaster for weeks because of all the holiday foods that cause inflammation that I’m ’bout to stuff my face with!!! … said no one ever.

inflammatory holiday foods to avoid

Honestly, the holidays can be so chaotic and stressful, I don’t understand the loads of inflammatory foods being added into the mix.

I get that there’s a lot of ‘give yourself a break and enjoy the holidays without feeling guilty’ mantras and advice floating around this time of year. But to be honest, those people don’t usually have (or acknowledge) inflammatory, blood sugar, or metabolic issues that wreak havoc when we binge on inflammatory foods.

So it isn’t really about the guilt. It’s about an entire month (or three) of our bodies and brains being completely out of balance just for the sake of a couple of meals.

On the other hand, it’s nice to feel some semblance of tradition during the holidays (and avoid irritating questions from Aunt Edna about why we’re not eating).

So here are the top 5 inflammatory holiday foods to avoid this year, with swap suggestions. {Click the image below to grab it!}

inflammatory holiday foods to avoid
inflammatory holiday foods to avoid

(1) Vegetable and seed oils

Not only are these types of oils extremely inflammatory due to the refining process, but they also contain omega-6 fats which are inflammatory.

To make matters worse, some holiday foods are fried. When oils– especially ones that are already inflammatory– are heated to super high temps and reheated, you’re adding a hefty amount of inflammatory free radicals to the mix.

It can be really difficult to avoid these when you’re using already processed foods in recipes. And you can guarantee these types of oils are used in pre-made foods and recipes.

👉 Instead, make recipes from scratch and opt for oils like avocado, extra virgin olive oil (only for non-heated foods), or coconut oil (organic, unrefined).

(2) Trans fats

These fats are in nearly any ultra-processed food you can find. They’ve been shown to contribute to heart disease and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). And although the US is in the process of banning trans fats (like other countries have), labeling laws still dictate that foods can have 0.5 grams or less per serving.

For now, all this means is that companies are using this loophole to make their serving size small enough that the trans fat amount is 0.5 or less.

👉 So check the ingredients list to make sure there are no trans fats. You’ll know if they are present because the ingredients will include ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’ oil. If it says this, find a different option.

inflammatory holiday foods to avoid

(3) Refined carbohydrates

Refined carbs seem to be a staple in holiday cuisine. From fried things to bread to desserts, they’re in a ton of sweet and savory recipes.

The biggest culprits of refined carbohydrate savory dishes at holiday meals are bread, rolls, breading, pasta, and corn-based foods.

👉 Instead, focus on proteins and veggies that aren’t covered in glazes, gravies, and dressings.

👉 In desserts, since these go hand in hand with sugar, unless you can guarantee they’re sugar-free, it’s best to steer clear of the dessert table, unless fresh fruit that’s not covered in sugar is available.

👉 A good tip is to plan ahead and bring your own sugar-free, refined-flour-free dessert.

inflammatory holiday foods to avoid

(4) Sugar

Sugar is extremely inflammatory, and has about a thousand different names and forms these days. It’s being added more and more to savory dishes to balance flavors and sometimes make it more addicting.

What’s even worse is high fructose corn syrup. Both are added to nearly all ultra-processed foods these days. And you can guarantee all the desserts are loaded with some kind of sugar.

👉 Check ingredient labels! Ingredients have to be listed in order from most to least, so you can tell the general amount of sugar in a package– the best bet is to avoid any with sugar altogether. This may mean foregoing sweet potato souffle and the pink salad (or jello salad) and the dessert table.

Another source of sugar at holiday meals is also beverages. Sweet tea (mostly in the South), sodas, hydration drinks, and alcoholic drinks are huge culprits of sugar during the holidays.

👉 Opt for water or unsweetened tea, and create your own cocktail with the suggestions below.

inflammatory holiday foods to avoid

(5) Alcoholic beverages

Alcohol seems to be a staple at the holidays for most. The problem is, being off work – and especially if you’re not the designated driver- tend to make many feel like they have a free pass to indulge to the max during the holidays.

Beer can drive up uric acid levels, which creates inflammation, wines can have sugars in them, and mixed drinks are normally loaded with sugar and preservatives from the mixer base.

👉 To enjoy alcohol and still find a balance, alternate each drink with water. Hydration is extremely helpful in flushing inflammatory foods from the body.

👉 Choose dry red wines instead of beer or white wine.

👉 Mix liquor with sparkling water and a couple of drops of liquid stevia.

inflammatory holiday foods to avoid

Tips for creating a more balanced holiday meal:

💎If you’re the one cooking the meal or contributing, it can be a lot easier to have control over what’s being served.

What we’ve learned through the years is that my husband’s and I’s families have only like two staple holiday recipes that are the same. The rest are recipes with super-inflammatory processed ingredients that the kids don’t even like.

That makes it much easier to eliminate inflammatory recipes and replace them with something much better for us.

💎We focus first on the protein and choose quality meats, and then prepare them with healthier options (ie- NOT frying an entire turkey).

💎Our second focus is on vegetables. We decide what dishes we can convert into healthier options from the old-school versions, and how we can make them taste amazing.

💎 If you’re not confident in altering recipes, search up options with the words, ‘Paleo’, ‘low-carb’, or ‘keto’ at the front, and make sure they’re sugar-free and refined-flour-free.

💎One thing my husband and I have discovered over the years is that when you experience nice restaurants- not chains- but ones with true chefs, is that they take a lot of pride in the flavor profiles and combinations of ingredients.

They also use very fresh ingredients and cook from scratch (for the most part). The result of that is incredibly delicious meals that aren’t processed, and – if the correct ingredients are used- aren’t inflammatory. The same holds true for the holidays.

Consider revamping some of your old-school recipes that use processed junk and challenge yourself to see how you can improve the health profile while maximizing the flavor profile.

Then save those in a binder for the next holiday season!

An amazing resource for doing this is a book called The Flavor Bible. We use this all the time to create new recipes or even add more pizzazz to existing ones.

{This is an affiliate link, which means if you click through and purchase, I’ll receive a small portion of the proceeds, at no extra charge to you.}

And as promised… Grab our free Healthy Holiday Swap-out Planning Sheet! 👇👇👇{Click the image below to grab it!}

inflammatory holiday foods to avoid

SAVE or SHARE this post! 👇

inflammatory holiday foods to avoid

Inflammatory Thanksgiving Foods to Avoid this Year

I’m SOOOO ready to be inflamed, in pain, and on a blood sugar and energy rollercoaster for weeks because of all the Thanksgiving foods that cause inflammation that I’m ’bout to stuff my face with!!! … said no one ever.

inflammatory thanksgiving foods

Honestly, the holidays can be so chaotic and stressful, I don’t understand the loads of inflammatory foods being added into the mix.

I get that there’s a lot of ‘give yourself a break and enjoy the holidays without feeling guilty’ mantras and advice floating around this time of year. But to be honest, those people don’t usually have (or acknowledge) inflammatory, blood sugar, or metabolic issues that wreak havoc when we binge on inflammatory foods.

So it isn’t really about the guilt. It’s about an entire month (or three) of our bodies and brains being completely out of balance just for the sake of a couple of meals.

On the other hand, it’s nice to feel some semblance of tradition during the holidays (and avoid irritating questions from Aunt Edna about why we’re not eating) as well.

So here are the top 5 inflammatory Thanksgiving foods to avoid this year, with swap suggestions.

Feel GOOD this holiday! Grab our Healthy Holiday Swap-Out Planner!

CLICK HERE TO GRAB IT!

inflammatory thanksgiving foods to avoid

(1) Vegetable and seed oils

Not only are these types of oils extremely inflammatory due to the refining process, but they also contain omega-6 fats which are inflammatory.

To make matters worse, some Thanksgiving foods are fried. When oils– especially ones that are already inflammatory– are heated to super high temps and reheated, you’re adding a hefty amount of inflammatory free radicals to the mix.

It can be really difficult to avoid these when you’re using already processed foods in recipes. And you can guarantee these types of oils are used in pre-made foods and recipes.

👉 Instead, make recipes from scratch and opt for oils like avocado, extra virgin olive oil (only for non-heated foods), or coconut oil (organic, unrefined).

(2) Trans fats

These fats are in nearly any ultra-processed food you can find. They’ve been shown to contribute to heart disease and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). And although the US is in the process of banning trans fats (like other countries have), labeling laws still dictate that foods can have 0.5 grams or less per serving.

For now, all this means is that companies are using this loophole to make their serving size small enough that the trans fat amount is 0.5 or less.

👉 So check the ingredients list to make sure there are no trans fats. You’ll know if they are present because the ingredients will include ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’ oil. If it says this, find a different option.

inflammatory thanksgiving foods to avoid

(3) Refined carbohydrates

Refined carbs seem to be a staple in holiday cuisine. From fried things to bread to desserts, they’re in a ton of sweet and savory recipes.

The biggest culprits of refined carbohydrate savory dishes at Thanksgiving are bread, rolls, breading, pasta, and corn-based foods.

👉 Instead, focus on proteins and veggies that aren’t covered in glazes, gravies, and dressings.

👉 In desserts, since these go hand in hand with sugar, unless you can guarantee they’re sugar-free, it’s best to steer clear of the dessert table, unless fresh fruit that’s not covered in sugar is available.

👉 A good tip is to plan ahead and bring your own sugar-free, refined-flour-free dessert.

inflammatory thanksgiving foods to avoid

(4) Sugar

Sugar is extremely inflammatory, and has about a thousand different names and forms these days. It’s being added more and more to savory dishes to balance flavors and sometimes make it more addicting.

What’s even worse is high fructose corn syrup. Both are added to nearly all ultra-processed foods these days. And you can guarantee all the desserts are loaded with some kind of sugar.

👉 Check ingredient labels! Ingredients have to be listed in order from most to least, so you can tell the general amount of sugar in a package– the best bet is to avoid any with sugar altogether. This may mean foregoing sweet potato souffle and the pink salad (or jello salad) and the dessert table.

Another source of sugar is also beverages. Sweet tea (mostly in the South), sodas, hydration drinks, and alcoholic drinks are huge culprits of sugar during the holidays.

👉 Opt for water or unsweetened tea, and create your own cocktail with the suggestions below.

inflammatory thanksgiving foods to avoid

(5) Alcoholic beverages

Alcohol seems to be a staple at the holidays for most. The problem is, being off work – and especially if you’re not the designated driver- tend to make many feel like they have a free pass to indulge to the max during the holidays.

Beer can drive up uric acid levels, which creates inflammation, wines can have sugars in them, and mixed drinks are normally loaded with sugar from the mixer base.

👉 To enjoy alcohol and still find a balance, alternate one drink with water. Hydration is extremely helpful in flushing inflammatory foods from the body.

👉 Choose dry red wines instead of beer or white wine.

👉 Mix liquor with sparkling water and a couple of drops of liquid stevia.

inflammatory thanksgiving foods to avoid

Tips for creating a more balanced Thanksgiving meal:

💎If you’re the one cooking the meal or contributing, it can be a lot easier to have control over what’s being served.

What we’ve learned through the years is that my husband’s and I’s families have only like two staple holiday recipes that are the same. The rest are recipes with super-inflammatory processed ingredients that the kids don’t even like.

That makes it much easier to eliminate inflammatory recipes and replace them with something much better for us.

💎We focus first on the protein and choose quality meats, and then prepare them with healthier options (ie- NOT frying an entire turkey).

💎Our second focus is on vegetables. We decide what dishes we can convert into healthier options from the old-school versions, and how we can make them taste amazing.

💎 If you’re not confident in altering recipes, search up options with the words, ‘Paleo’, ‘low-carb’, or ‘keto’ at the front, and make sure they’re sugar-free and refined-flour-free.

💎One thing my husband and I have discovered over the years is that when you experience nice restaurants- not chains- but ones with true chefs, is that they take a lot of pride in the flavor profiles and combinations of ingredients.

They also use very fresh ingredients and cook from scratch (for the most part). The result of that is incredibly delicious meals that aren’t processed, and – if the correct ingredients are used- aren’t inflammatory. The same holds true for the holidays.

Consider revamping some of your old-school recipes that use processed junk and challenge yourself to see how you can improve the health profile while maximizing the flavor profile.

Then save those in a binder for the next holiday season!

An amazing resource for doing this is a book called The Flavor Bible. We use this all the time to create new recipes or even add more pizzazz to existing ones.

{This is an affiliate link, which means if you click through and purchase, I’ll receive a small portion of the proceeds, at no extra charge to you.}

And as promised… Grab our free Healthy Holiday Swap-out Planning Sheet! 👇👇👇 {click the image}

SAVE or SHARE this post! 👇

inflammatory thanksgiving foods to avoid

The Ultimate How-to Meal Planning for Beginners Guide

How to Meal Plan for Beginners Guide

As a busy mom, I’m sure you can relate to the dinner-time frenzy of ‘what’s for dinner?’, as well as the panic that beginners of meal planning encounter regularly. It’s seriously draining to have tiny humans to feed when you have no clue how to meal plan or where to start meal planning. 

I actually advocate meal planning as one of the FIRST things to get in order in your household to help reduce stress. (Seriously–order and a plan = calm + collected).

Finding the magic ✨ middle between healthy + efficient will change everything.

But there are actually a lot of other reasons to meal plan, and here’s why you should get your ish in order and get started!

meal planning for beginners

1. Benefits of meal planning

Meal planning is one of those things that people just hate doing. It usually feels like an impossible task, not knowing where to start or end. Most people are very confused about what meals they should include for staying with a particular dietary style, which meals through the week they should plan for, and how make the shopping lists.

I get it—before I started meal planning it felt completely overwhelming. Evenings were stressful, because even if we did agree on a meal, I had no idea if we had the ingredients to make it. (Forget whether or not it fit into our ‘diet’ we tried to adhere to at the time!) The frustration of not ever really knowing what was for dinner got the best of me once we had kids and our time became a gazillion times for valuable (because it was qucily becoming in more short supply).

That’s when I decided to get serious about meal planning.

And you know what? I discovered that there were several benefits to  meal planning I didn’t even realize until we were into it a couople weeks.

First, our ‘diet’ we were trying to follow—we stuck to it because I took the time to search out recipes that followed it. The confidence it built in both my husband and I after eating good for two weeks was amazing! That alone helped us stay motivated to keep working out as well. We didn’t want to waste our efforts at proper eating habits.

Second, we saved money. (Serious.) When you have an actual plan, you don’t wander through the store and grab at whatever looks good. You get your stuff and get out. This also allows to intentiaonally search up recipes that cost less if you’re serious about bringing your budget down on groceries.

Third, we eliminated multiple trips to the store. Translation: time saver!! We honestly didn’t have time to make so many trips to the store in the first place, and this just put me into panic runaround mode the days I had to ‘stop real quick’. Think about how much time (and brainpower) it’s taking for you to realize you forgot something or you’re out of whatever you dreamed up for dinner on a whim, then the time to get into the store (especially if you have to take kids in with you!), the time in the store, loading the car back up, then unloading everything while unloading kids. Oh yeah—and getting everything put up. This can suck hours out of your week. Only one trip a week has saved me boatloads of time!

And last, our stress levels were exponentially less in the evenings. That may sound like an exaggeration, but I’m not kidding. There was no scrambling around, no arguments, no searching online like a madwoman for something—anything—I could make with mushrooms and ajar of relish. We had a plan, we both helped in cooking every night, and we started having some amazing conversations while spending relaxing before-dinner time with the kiddos.

So now that you’re convinced you’re definitely on the right track–

2. How do you start meal planning?

Meal planning will come down to a couple of different things.

First, are there any dietary styles you need to adhere to? If so, those are the kinds of recipes you need to search up.

Second, how many people will you be cooking for at night? Think about if you need to cook for adults and kids.

Third, do you want to take advantage of leftovers for lunches? This will determine the number of servings you cook of the dinner recipe. This is a GREAT way to also make sure you stay on track with your dietary style. As long as you cook your dinners in that style, you’re assured your lunch is the same when you’re using them as leftovers. Plus you don’t have to go searching for lunch when you’re hungry. It’s already done and ready in the fridge.

Do you need to plan for breakfasts, snacks, or more lunches? If so, you should also account for these when sitting down to meal plan.

3. How do I create a weekly meal plan?

Creating a meal plan takes a little time each week, but once you have a system set, you begin to follow it automatically and it gets easier.

The first thing you should do is print out a meal planning template (which you can get below), and find recipes. Consider all those things above when coming up with your plan.

Next, start filling in the days and slots you need a meal for with the recipes you’ve found. Think about any nights you won’t be home for kids’ practices, nights you eat out, or nights you’re planning for leftovers. Mark those out or make a note.

You’ll also want to note any nights you want to cook but it needs to be simple or a slow cooker meal that you threw in first thing in the morning to be ready by dinnertime.

Third, you’ll need to create shopping lists. This can be done by either using recipe or meal planning apps, or by simply writing a list with a meal planning template and shopping list template yourself while looking at the recipe. It’s a little time-consuming, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not difficult.

Fourth, double-check you don’t already have those ingredients (I hate when I buy something I already had 5 of !)

Last, I suggest posting your weekly meal plans somewhere anyone can find it. This is so that if your partner needs/wants to start the meal, or even has questions about it, you always have a designated place so there are no questions.

4. Meal Planning Template With Shopping List

Meal planning templates with a shopping list can be very simple, planning only for dinners, or you can find very complex meal planning templates when you need to plan for multiple meals per day. The advantage of printing these out is that you have a very clear, organized picture of your week right in front of you.

5. Schedule in Meal Planning Every Week

One of the biggest mistakes I see beginners make is not taking the time to meal plan, and not making it a priority. If you’re serious about saving time in your week and nixing the constant anxiety about what’s for dinner- schedule in a time to sit and do meal planning every single week! 

6. Get organized

Every time I ask a client where their recipes are, I know what’s coming: “Oh they’re on my phone”. But the where is the bigger issue. I know how this works– we get going down the recipe rabbit hole on Pinterest, pin a thousand recipes that all look amazing, then we never see them again. 

Friend! Stop doing this!! If you find something you think looks fantastic and your family will love it, do yourself a HUGE favor and get organized with your recipes so you can find them again later!! I use a recipe organization app that’s amazing at analyzing nutrition information, too. They use a ‘collections’ feature to organize recipes, and (although they will have an official ‘meal planner’ feature soon within the app), I use that ‘collections’ feature to do my meal planning. Plus they generate my shopping list and you can send it any store from there for shopping– SO EASY!!

7. Save + Reuse Favorites

This one is so easy, but always easily forgotten. When you find something that everyone likes, don’t forget to save it and reuse it. These start to fall under the category I call ‘Family Faves’. What’s so great about these is that once you’ve made it a time or two, it starts to be second nature– meaning it takes you less time and brainpower to make it. Heck-some of ours I actually know all the ingredients by heart now! 

Know someone else that could use help meal planning? SHARE this post!

meal planning for beginners meal planner with grocery list