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Meal planning can help you eat healthier for cheaper, but it can also be your path to eating exactly what you want. Homemade pizza. Every. Day. Learn the zen of meal planning with How to Adult!

Meal Planning Resources: [folks in our office love this app] [vegan] [website & magazines] [app] [app] [app] [podcast] [podcast]

Step 1: Research What You Like
Step 2: Lower Your Expectations
Step 3: Clean Your Kitchen (Consistently)
Step 4: Go Grocery Shopping
Step 5: Build In Flexibility
Step 6: Make Mistakes—Get Creative!
Step 7: Cook & Eat Your Meal

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  Episode Start (0:07)

It all seems so simple when you're a kid. Friday is pizza day at the school cafeteria, so on Friday you eat pizza. As an adult, planning what to eat and when can be pretty tough. We can eat just about anything.

Ooh! Gas station taquitos all the time. Can't tell me what to do, mom! But humans cannot live on gas station taquitos alone. Your mom may have had a point when she told you to eat a vegetable every now and then.

Unless you're a wizard and healthy dinners just appear on your table, and if you are actually, please call me, try this idea on for size: meal planning. Imagine setting off for a busy work week while knowing that you'll have tasty things ready to cook and eat when you get home from a rough day.

Meal planning saves you cash money and can help you make sure you eat some veggies. Or live the dream and eat homemade pizza every day. Learning how to meal plan is like building any other good habit. Set yourself up for success and practice until it's second nature.

You can find a ton of recipes, apps, and online guides to meal planning. We've linked you to a few of our favorites down in the dooblydoo. But meal planning is not just a science. Meal planning, my friends, is an art.

Here, we'll guide you through the zen of meal planning. 

 Step 1: Research (1:16)

Step one. Grab a pen and paper. Or, wait, it's the 21st century, pull up your phone's note-taking app. Now think what do you like to COOK that you also like to EAT? How OFTEN do you think you can cook at HOME?

Make a list of your favorite 5-10 meals that you can easily cook in a short time, or mostly make ahead of time. Here are couple ideas for meals that come to mind: roasted chicken thighs with pasta and chickpea curry with rice.

Now, we're going to talk more about these specific meals later, but remember, the best thing you can do to plan your meals is to... uh... actually plan your meals. Decide what you want to eat next week before you go shopping and prepping over the weekend.

  Step 2: Lower Your Expectations (1:54)

Step two. Lower your expectations. Weird, right? But if this is the first time trying to cook for yourself more often, it's okay to start simple. Save the souffle for another time, use shortcuts when it makes sense for you.

It counts as cooking if you buy pre-made pizza dough and add your own toppings. It even counts as cooking if some nights all you can do is crack a couple of eggs in a pot of ramen noodles.

  Step 3: Clean your Kitchen (2:18)

Step 3. Here's the thing... Clean your kitchen. A tidy kitchen is the first step toward cooking more often. If you have to spend half an hour cleaning up your kitchen before you can start to make dinner, you'll be hungry and crabby by the time you get to your recipe.

I can't stress this enough. Do your dishes and wipe down your counters like every day. If you really hate dishes, try to make it as fun as you can using the theory of Temptatin Bundling. That means doing something that you like to trick yourself into doing something that you hate.

Put on some tunes, a podcast, or a Youtube video to listen to while you do the dishes. Buy a fancy dish soap. Or knock back a shot of whiskey before you start the dishes.

If you make it a regular habit to keep your kitchen clean, you'll notice a huge difference in how motivated you feel to get in there and start cooking.

 Step 4: Go Grocery Shopping! (3:08)

Step 4. Go grocery shopping! Preferrably when you're not hungry or else you'll buy everything in the store. I've definitely done that before.

When you're out at the store, remember this life-changing, super-intense, really helpful secret about meal planning: building in lots of flexibility.

 Step 5: Build in Flexibility (3:24)

The biggest mistake in meal planning is coming up with all of your meals for the week and then not feeling like eating them. This, my peeps, is the path to dialing the pizza delivery guy.

So try to plan meals based around ingredients that can be really versatile. Things like frozen veggies, kale, rice, pasta, canned tomatoes, and canned beans are all great to grab extras of. And don't forge the sriracha!

  Step 6: Make Mistakes (3:49)

Step six. Get creative in case things don't go as planned because "to err is human".

Let's say that we bought the ingredients for roast chicken with pasta on Monday and chickpea curry with rice on Tuesday. What if you get home on Monday and realize you forgot to thaw the chicken? Oh balls!

But you've totes got this. Just roast the chickpeas instead and serve them with the pasta. Then use the chicken the next day in your curry sauce.

  Step 7: Cook & Eat Your Meal (4:18)

Step seven. Cook and eat your meal. High five! You'll be a master of meal planning in no time!

Thanks for joining me on this meal planning adventure! If you have any meal planning tips or tricks or have a topic that you'd like us to cover, leave us your thoughts in the comments below.