Best Laid Plans

BLP Ep #116: Meal Planning & More with Nakita Attard Vassallo

October 17, 2022

Meal Planning

. . . is something I do every single week, and it is a much-requested topic on BLP! Whether I am using PrepDish or favorite recipes, I honestly do not know how to make dinner happen at our house without a plan. I’m sure there ARE people who do it, and do it well! But for me — a plan is essential. I typically plan the week’s meals on Saturday and order groceries for delivery on Sunday. It works, though sometimes I wonder if I can automate things even further.

I’ve had so many requests to have a meal planning expert on, and was so excited to welcome Nakita onto BLP! Nakita has her own super-efficient (and delicious) system that helps those looking for some new meal planning methods, with emphasis on batching — even planning in “No Cook” nights, a concept which I loooove.

Nakita in her element!

Nakita joined me all the way from Malta (the magic of the internet!) and we had such a great time chatting. This episode is not sponsored in any way, but Nakita wanted to share a link in case listeners wanted to check out her program: visit this link for a free trial!

Nakita’s site: The Mama Manual // Nakita’s Insta

PS: The cookbook I cooked through in like 2010: Martha Stewart’s Great Food Fast. Honestly, I would do it again.


  • Reply MK October 17, 2022 at 6:07 am

    The ‘Focus on this’ podcast mentioned a book today that made me think of you:
    The Accidental Diarist: A History of the Daily Planner in America by Molly McCarthy

    Books about planners planning screams SHU to me!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger October 17, 2022 at 12:19 pm

      I heard that this morning too and thought NEED TO READ!!! Thanks so much for sending!

  • Reply Rachel Palmer October 17, 2022 at 11:35 am

    This podcast came at a perfect time as I just realized I needed some meal planning help/inspiration. I thought I was doing well because I plan meals well, but don’t really plan how preparing these meals will actually logistically fit into the day. Loved this episode, and also Malta is amazing and it’s nice to hear an international planning perspective too. Thanks Sarah!

  • Reply Alison October 17, 2022 at 2:38 pm

    I rely on meal planning too, but I’ve started doing it a month at a time. I still order groceries weekly but it knocks out all the planning at once, which doesn’t take all that long but at least I don’t have to think about it again for a month (and I definitely adjust on the fly, but at least there is the plan there to tweak from).

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns October 17, 2022 at 6:13 pm

    This was a fun episode! I have heard Malta is gorgeous! A grad school friend married a man from Malta (who is actually a ped endocrinologist at Mayo!) and another friend went there for their honeymoon.

    I think I have really upped my meal planning after I moved in with my husband and then I’ve refined it since having kids. I have a ‘prep dish’ style of prep where I try to do as much prep work on the weekend so meals come together fast on week nights. Leftovers are key for us, too! Having my husband help suggest meals has been key as I get fatigued by coming up with to make. We have a binder of recipes organized by course to pick from. I am so tactile when it comes to cooking so love having physical recipes to work with!

    I would like to try making extra meals to freeze, though. Our challenge is we have such limited freezer space. We have a side-by-side fridge/freezer so that really limits what we can freeze. But I should do things like make an extra batch of lentil enchilada filling.

  • Reply Alyce October 18, 2022 at 6:53 am

    I really enjoyed listening to this while I was making/eating lunch yesterday. Earlier this year I switched to only planning out one meal per day and Nikita is right that it is so much easier, and often enough. Meal planning also got easier when our daughter started keto, so we were no longer trying to plan a meal that everyone would want to eat. The third thing that really helped was moving away from recipes and moving towards meal formulas – I aim to have fat, fiber, protein, and greens/vegetables at every meal. I got this idea from Kelly Leveque (a celebrity nutritionist), and this combination of foods is really filling and I feel great afterwards. Occasionally, I’m making a recipe that hits all the categories, but often – and this is the gamechanger – I’m just assembling a combination of all those things and eating them at one time. For example, for lunch yesterday, I had a side salad with spring mix, shredded carrots, broccoli, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and hemp hearts; homemade white beans and brown rice topped with garlicky kale; and a mix of assorted berries. (Another facet of my meal formula is to maximize the total number of different vegetables I eat each week because I think the variety is good for my gut.) For dinner, I had two large slices of toast topped with a spicy hummus and kimchi. I find it so much easier to combine food from certain categories than to make recipes, in part because it’s an easy way to turn a little snack into a well rounded and nutritious meal. Both of these meals took less than 10 minutes to assemble, and they were delicious and filling. My only weekend meal prep for the week was to bake a large batch of brown rice and to cook 1lb bag of beans (with a ton of olive oil, so the fat is built in). I have big picture plans to use the rice with spicy tofu veggie bowls, and I’ll have a couple of salads that are full meals.

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