Meal Planning Tips

If you're new to meal planning or Slender Kitchen, we know it can be overwhelming to start. But it doesn’t have to be! Use the tips below to help you get started. These tips include the most common actions you’ll need to customize your meal plan as well tips and tricks to make meal planning fun, easy, and effective.

  • Tip #1: Swapping in a New Recipe in the Interactive Meal Planner
  • Tip #2: Utilizing and Making the Most of Leftovers
  • Tip #3: Planning for Nights Out & Eating Away From Home
  • Tip #4: Adding Recipes to Your Recipe Queue & Favorites
  • Tip #5: Adding Your Own Items to the Meal Plan
  • Tip #6: Customizing Your Meal Plan in Minutes
  • Tip #7: Making the Most of the Weekends with Meal Prep
  • Tip #8: Adding Your Own Recipes
Go to Your Weekly Meal Plan
Tip #1  Swap in a New Recipe
Although we strive to pick delicious recipes every week for the meal plans, sometimes there may be something that just doesn't work for your taste buds or diet. When that happens, simply swap in a new recipe and everything updates automatically. Here's how.
  1. Click on the title of the meal you would like to change, for example Breakfast.
  2. Use either the "X" to remove individual items or the trashcan icon to delete the entire meal.
  3. Drag a new recipe into the meal planner from the Recipe Queue or from your Favorites.
Tip #2  Utilizing Leftovers
We love leftovers! Not only do they save time and money, there are so many ways to repurpose them into new meals. (Here are my favorite ways!) In fact, we love leftovers so much, we wanted to make sure there was an easy way to add leftovers in the interactive meal plan. Here's how.
  1. Drag the recipe into the meal planner for each day you would like to use it.
  2. Each time you add it, you will be asked whether you want to Add as Leftovers or Add as a New Recipe (meaning you want to cook it from scratch).
  3. Choose Add as Leftovers and the extra servings you need are automatically added to the original recipe. That way you only have to cook once!
What about the icons?
This icon shows you how many extra servings you are cooking for leftovers.
This icon lets you know that you already cooked this recipe and are using leftovers.
This icon lets you know you are cooking a recipe more than once from scratch.
Tip #3  Planning for a Night Out
It's only natural that some weeks you'll have plans to go to your favorite restaurant, order take-out, or have dinner at a friend's house. Here are some options to account for those meals in your meal plan.
  • Interactive meal planner – When you aren't eating at home, just delete the meal from the night you plan on eating out of the house and leave it blank. Everything you needed for that meal is automatically removed from the shopping list.
  • Ready Made Meal Plans – If you opt for the Ready Made Meal Plans, you will have to make some manual adjustments, but don't worry, it's easy. Just find the recipe and side dishes for the meal you won't be preparing. Then cross the ingredients off of the shopping list to make sure you don't buy things you don't need.
Tip #4  Using Favorites and the Recipe Queue
We know that you are looking at recipes all the time not just when you sit down to meal plan. To make meal planning easy, we recommend saving recipes to your favorites and recipe queue any time you are browsing the site and see a recipe you'd like to try. Here's how:
  • Favorites – Click on the  Image Tool Bar - Plus Sign  icon in the lower right corner of any recipe photo. Then click on the  Add to Favorites - Heart Icon  icon to add it to your Favorites.
  • Recipe Queue – See a recipe you want to add to a future meal plan? That's what the Recipe Queue is for. To use, just click on the  Image Tool Bar - Plus Sign  icon in the lower right corner of any recipe photo. Then click on the  Add to Recipe Queue - Recipe Queue Icon  icon to add it to your Recipe Queue. It will automatically be categorized as breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack.
  • Using Favorites & Queued Recipes – To use saved recipes, just open the Favorites or Recipe Queue menu in the right sidebar and drag the recipe into your meal planner.
  • Expert Tip!  Love a recipe in this week's meal plan? Open up the recipe in the meal planner and immediately add it to your Favorites so you don't forget.
Tip #5  Adding Your Own Items
For many meals, especially breakfasts, we know that many people don't prepare a recipe and just want to add an item like 1 cup Greek yogurt or Chocolate Larabar. Adding these items to your meal plan couldn't be easier, plus they will show up in your Shopping List. Here's how:
  1. Click on the title of the meal you would like to change, for example Breakfast.
  2. Then write in the item you wish to add, for example Chocolate Larabar, and click "Analyze".
  3. The calories will populate automatically if it is in our database, if not you can enter them manually. Then click "Add".
Tip #6  How to Customize Your Meal Plan in Minutes
Now that you are ready to customize your meal plans, here are some tips for doing this as efficiently as possible.
  1. Save recipes to your Queue and Favorites – This is the key to efficient planning since you don't have to search on the site for recipes you want to use. Before customizing your plan, make sure you have plenty of recipes saved.
  2. Delete any meals/items you prefer not to use – Start by removing any meals or items that you don't want to prepare that week. Don't worry about what you will be adding; just delete things you don't want to use.
  3. Drag in new recipes from your Queue/Favorites – Now drag in new recipes for any meals you deleted.
  4. Add any remaining items – Lastly add in any items to complete your meals that aren't a full recipe.
  5. Sticking to the same theme – Struggling to replace a meal? Stick to the same theme to make things easier. For example, if you remove a recipe for Barbecue Chicken Thighs, consider adding another chicken recipe in its place. Did you delete a pasta recipe? Find a new pasta recipe to replace it.
Tip #7  Getting Ahead with Meal Prep
Do you feel like there is no time during the week to cook or pack a healthy lunch ahead of time? Here are some tips and tricks for using weekend meal prep to help. If you can set aside 1-2 hours on Sunday, you can get a substantial amount of meal prep done and it will save you hours during the week. Here's how:
  • Identify Meals That Can Be Made in Advance – The first step to meal prep is determining which meals can be made in advance. Generally things like soups, stews, and casseroles can be made in advance. Additionally, many times you can make things like pasta sauces, taco fillings, enchiladas, stir-fries, and braised meats in advance. Pick out those meals and plan to prepare them over the weekend so during the week you are simply reheating it or making the quicker components.
  • Prep Grains & Sides – I always make any grains (brown rice, quinoa, couscous, etc) and sides (like mashed potatoes, cauliflower rice, steamed and roasted vegetables) I need in advance. Then I don't have to think twice about sides during the week.
  • Prep Veggies – You will be shocked at how much time you can save during the week by prepping your veggies in advance. Chop, dice, and mince the veggies you will need so they are ready to go when you need them. This will save you 5-15 minutes on most recipes.
  • Use Make Ahead Meals – If you are customizing your meal plan with new recipes, consider using recipes from the Make Ahead Meals category. All these meals can be made in advance.
Tip #8  Adding Your Own Recipes
Since every family has their own favorite recipes, we want to make sure you can use those in your meal plan. Here's how to add your own recipes to the meal planner.
  1. Click on Share a Recipe under your name in the top toolbar.
  2. Follow the on screen directions to add your recipe.
  3. Submit the recipe and we'll calculate the nutritional info for you. Then we'll send you an email letting you know your recipe is ready and you can start using it in your meal plans.