THE BLOG
01/16/2014 02:20 pm ET | Updated Mar 15, 2014

Quick, Easy, Healthy Meal-Planning Ideas

After a long day at work, sometimes the easiest thing to do for dinner seems like ordering greasy takeout or buzzing by the drive thru. But even "healthy" fast food isn't always the best option. Below are some practical tips and resources to help build fast and healthy meal planning into your routine.

First of all, make planning your meals a part of your weekly routine. While it may seem like a hassle to set aside yet another small piece of time, taking the opportunity to organize your shopping list and plan meals ahead of time will save you not only time in the long run, but also money.

Decide on a day and time when you will do your grocery shopping in order to avoid costly and time consuming trips multiple times each week.

For instance, say you choose Sunday morning as your shopping day and time. Saturday afternoon, take just 15 minutes to sit down and:

  • Decide what you plan to make throughout the week.

  • Make a list of all the ingredients you will need for these meals.

  • Keep your grocery list organized in categories such as dairy, produce, and meat. When you arrive at the store, you can pick out all your food from one department.

  • To make list keeping easy, keep a pad of paper and a pencil stuck on the refrigerator, and add basic items such as milk and eggs to the list as you run out.

  • Or check out a List Tool like Organized Home's "All-in-One Printable Weekly Meal Planner and Shopping List."
  • Performing to the best of your ability requires nutritious meals throughout the day, so don't forget foods you will need for a balanced breakfast and power-packed lunch:

    Once you have the food, you still may find it hard to summon up the energy to pull together a delicious, healthy dinner. Not to fear! These websites give some ideas of tasty meals you can whip together in a flash.

    The 6 O'Clock Scramble: "Recipes, Express Meals, Kitchen and Cooking Tips"
    Delish.com: "Grownup Meals in Under 30 Minutes"

    Also, look for recipes that serve more than one person or double your recipes so that you have plenty of leftovers. You can bring these leftovers for lunch throughout the week, or even freeze them so you'll always have something available to defrost in the microwave when you're in a pinch.

    And don't shy away from preparing these recipes because you're worried about kitchen cleanup.

    Lifehacker's: "Two Bowl Method" makes Cleaning a Breeze!
    Cooking Manager's: 11 Tips from a Chef for Easy, Effective Cleanup

    Cooking healthfully is one of the best things you can do for your health and well-being. In fact, many people find being in the kitchen to be quite meditative.

    Think of preparing dinner as a tasty, welcomed transition between your day and evening duties. Bon appétit!