Can Meal Planning Help You?

You love to cook. You know you love to cook, or at least, you usually love to cook. But it’s been a long day, you’re a little brain-fried and when you open the fridge you’re faced with a total lack of inspiration, and fall back on a less-than-healthy meal. Or takeout.

Mealtimes can leave us feeling stressed about our choices and overwhelmed at the prospect of having to make decisions on the fly when we’re already hungry and tired. The purpose of meal planning is to take away that stress, fatigue, and expensive habits and replace them with a perfectly manageable system that works for you. And with the new-normal of COVID-19 setting in, many of us are looking at the way in which we handle meals and cooking, and looking into new ways to adapt. Drop’s Instant Pot meal plans are here to combine time-saving strategies with time-saving appliances. 

A person planning their meal plan at a computer with a notebook.

What is Meal Planning?

“Meal planning” is a fairly self-explanatory term, and you may already be incorporating elements of it in your daily life. Do you find yourself savings recipes that look good on Pinterest with the intention of making them later? Or writing out your ingredients list before hitting up the grocery store? Congratulations, you’re half way to being a meal planning expert. “Meal Planning” simply refers to the process of deciding what you’re going to eat, whether it’s for several days or several weeks. It’s a strategy used to map out what you’re going to eat in advance.

What Are The Benefits of Meal Planning?

  • Meal planning can remove the decision-fatigue and stress around mealtimes
  • Meal planning can benefit anyone who’s looking to eat more intentional, healthy food
  • Meal planning can save time for busy people
  • Meal planning can save money for anyone looking to cook within a budget
Three jars of meal prepped food, used as part of a meal plan.

What’s The Difference Between Meal Planning And Meal Prepping?

Meal Planning is the strategy that maps out what you’re going to eat in advance. Meal Prepping is the strategy of actually preparing meals or ingredients in advance. The two are often used in tandem, but not always. You might plan what you’re going to eat for the week ahead (Meal Planning) and then prep several portions of a batch-cooked meal in advance to save time (Meal Prepping). Or, you might plan for several quick-and-easy meals you can cook after work, and simply have the ingredients and recipes ready to go for different days.

A bowl of healthy food used as part of an Instant Pot meal plan.

How to Set up a Meal Plan

When you’re new to meal planning, set yourself up for success by attacking it with some solid planning. Start small, there’s no need to write a strict no-treat diet if that’s not something you’re going to stick with long-term. The purpose of meal planning isn’t to drastically restrict yourself, but rather to free up long-term time and energy by investing in a little short-term planning. With that in mind, ask yourself:

  • Why do I want to meal plan? What frustrations am I facing that I would like to fix? Write them down, or consciously acknowledge them. A lot of people mention being frustrated with throwing away fresh produce that has gone bad, or spending a lot of their time cooking, or not eating a wide variety of things. What stresses in your life could meal planning remove?
  • What can I use while I’m cooking? Do an inventory of your kitchen and see what tools you have: knives, chopping boards, oven, stove, Instant Pot, slow cooker. How can you use everything in your kitchen to your advantage?
  • Where am I cooking? Is your kitchen somewhere you enjoy being? Ensure you have clear countertops and prep spaces, and take the opportunity to declutter items that don’t belong there.

Once you’ve taken an inventory of how and where you’ll be cooking, you could write a list of all the meals you’ve eaten in the past week or just a list of your favorite meals. If you’re feeling stuck for inspiration, browse your favorite restaurant on social media, or pick an ingredient you like and search for it on Pinterest or Drop Recipes. Then, plan out where you can fit these meals into your week — take breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks into account. Along with a list of ingredients you’ll need, and sources for new recipes you’d like to try.

Browse for recipe inspiration now on the free Drop Recipes app:

What is Drop’s Instant Pot Meal Plan?

Knowing that our community might be facing even more mealtime frustrations than usual, we wanted to create a system to help with putting a meal plan habit in place. Every week, we’ll release a new Instant Pot Meal Plan on the app, to help you make the most of your Instant Pot and make home-cooked meals at home more frequently, with less stress. Your Instant Pot can be a perfect tool for meal planning and prepping, thanks to its ability to handle large batches, and cook things quickly.

Our Monday – Friday Meal Plan will include Instant Pot recipes for:

  • 2-4 breakfast recipes
  • 3-4 lunch recipes
  • 5 vegetarian dinners and 5 meat/fish dinners

Many of the meal plans are laid out to include leftovers for lunch the following day, or using up frozen food and pantry staples towards the end of the week when supplies are running low. All the recipes can be easily scaled up or down using the app to match up with your family’s needs. Instant Pot users can find a new meal plan in the Drop Recipes app every Friday, leaving plenty of time to get set up over the weekend.

Find all the recipes in the weekly Instant Pot Meal Plans in the Drop Recipes app now.

Caoimhe Carton

Caoimhe Carton

Oh hai. I'm one of the marketeers at Drop HQ. I'm a vegetarian Dubliner, and am currently seeking advice on keeping plants alive at my desk. Please send all plant advice and inquiries to caoimhe@getdrop.com.