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5 Simple Steps to Meal Prep, and Meal Plan on a Budget with Megan Barrett

5 Simple Steps to Meal Prep, and Meal Plan on a Budget with Megan Barrett

Someone recently said to me “Sarah, I hate dinner time, it’s always a fight, I am exhausted, I don’t know what to cook and nobody suggests dinner ideas. Then whatever I choose, someone always says, they don’t like it.” Pair this with schedules getting busier and busier and no wonder meal time stress is on the rise.

When we are stressed at dinner time, then proceed to eat, our body doesn’t digest food until we intentionally relax. Hence the body parasympathetic nervous response, nicknamed rest and digest. This can cause issues over the long term so; I want to address this mealtime stress. I brought Megan Barrett on the podcast to talk about how to use her signature templates to simplify grocery shopping, cooking, and meal time all together.

Megan Barrett is a meal prep, meal planning and cooking pro! She started out as a food blogger then began meal planning and meal prepping. She recently added a budgeting component to meal prep to help lower the stress even more.

Megan Barret is a mom of two girls with a third on the way, a wife to a supportive husband, and a dark chocolate lover. She is super passionate about helping women make progress towards their goals. Whether it’s a with simple recipes and meal planning tips, or with their finances helping them make budgets that actually work, she loves helping women simplify and streamline the most stressful parts of their day so they can sit back and actually enjoy life.

To listen to the whole episode on the Cultivate with Sarah Zastrow Podcast click HERE.

5 Steps to Simplify Meal Planning and Meal Prep using Printable Templates

Get the pdf downloadable templates HERE

Note: The key is to find what works for you and your family so feel free to stray from these “guidelines”

1. Sit down as a family and brainstorm dinner ideas everyone likes

2. Look at your family schedule, evening commitments and time available each night. Use this to decide what you will make for dinner each night of the week.

3. Make a grocery list for the ingredients you need. Pro-tip: look through your cupboards first to see what ingredients you already have.

4. OPTIONAL: Prepare foods to be used in the upcoming week.

This can look a lot different based on what works for your family.


Maybe you simply chop vegetables or prepare one ingredient to eliminate that step later.

Maybe you cook twice as much and eat leftovers, or freeze that meal for next week.

Cook up the meat that way you can easily incorporate it into other dishes.

One thing I have done is cook up some chicken and ground beef on Sunday then incorporate it

throughout the week like this:

Monday: Chicken, rice and veggies

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Chicken parmesan,

Thursday: Sloppy joes

Friday: Nachos with whatever is left over.

This is an easy way to incorporate the meat you cooked in an hour on the weekend, to quick dinners every night.

Don’t forget crock pot dump meals or frozen meals that you just pop into the oven, Instapot, crock pot, etc is another easy way to meal prep. For recipe ideas from the Cultivate Balance Pinterest Page click HERE.

5. Re-evaluate what worked and didn’t so next week is even easier. Take what worked and throw away the rest.

Pro tip: Don’t try too many new things at once, if you are trying meal planning and meal prep for the first time, don’t plan on also trying 5 new recipes.

Lastly, Megan teaches us how to budget and save money while we are meal planning. You can shop the sales, buy in bulk and avoid impulse buying using Grocery Apps.

After talking with Megan, I had one hug takeaway. She explains that we can try different things that we think might work, if it doesn’t work that’s okay, look at the parts that worked and incorporate those next time. Figuring out what works for you and your family is the key here, it will look different for everyone.

Meal planning and meal prep is designed to reduce stress around dinner time, find what works for you to save time and energy after a long day. Dinner time can be more enjoyable with a little planning and preparation.

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Thanks for listening!

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