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Do you plan your meals in advance?

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Since I started blogging, I’ve received quite a few emails like this recent one, below:

Hey Katie! I’m a new reader and a new vegan too. And I have a question for you. Your meals always look amazing and so well put together. So my question is how do you decide what to eat? Do you plan your meals in advance?

My response: I have a great friend who tells me exactly what to eat: Mr. Stomach!

Okay, lame jokes aside, I actually don’t plan in advance anymore. For a while, I tried planning my meals out the day before. But then, when the time would come to eat said meals, I often found I was craving something else, so I’d have to change the plan anyway.

That being said, there is some planning that goes into my meals. I make different things up in advance and keep a rough list on hand of what’s available. That way, come mealtime, I can choose what I want to eat.  So in reality, I “plan but don’t plan.”

Chocolate-Covered Meal of the Day


Almond milk, frozen mango, and Snickerdoodle Oat Bran.

An example of my “plan-but-don’t-plan” idea: I made up the oat bran the night before but didn’t decide to snickerdoodle it (Like my verb?) until the morning.

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Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 

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  1. My tummy DOES want sweets all day…

    I usually do plan out my meals for the day. If not, I end up eating junk. 🙂

  2. jcd says:

    Snickerdoodle oat bran sounds yummy. Mmmm… snickerdoodles…

    We plan our meals, but only so much as pick a few recipes for the week and buy ingredients for them. If we don’t feel like making a recipe from that list, we don’t! We always buy a few extra ingredients so we can make other things on a whim.

  3. Eliza says:

    loved this post Katie 🙂
    i also used to plan out my meals every night for the following day, it was quite stressful lol…and then i just decided to eat more intuitively, and decide in the moment or like an hour before dinner for example i just think “what does Eliza want” 🙂 and it has been working out perfectly…
    i found also when i would plan, the meal would come around and i wouldnt be in the mood for whatever i planned to have…it is nice to just eat what you feel like having! and yes, if you only crave sweet things i think your body would realize it needs some veggies 😉
    balance is key, treats and such are so great to allow yourself, and i try to allow myself some chocolate every so often, and other yummy things…we all deserve to enjoy food and life! and not restrict yummy things like chocolate etc…

    love you beautiful girl

  4. I definitely don’t plan my meals–but my foodie machine of a mind is always cranking… so sometimes I conjure up future creations haha. On a day to day basis, I eat what yo quiero comer! 🙂

  5. Boomette says:

    I kind of plan my meals in advance. Because I tag recipes on recipe zaar ( Then I have 2 weeks to do the recipes. So I always know what to cook. I don’t have to search a recipe at the last minute.

    This weekend I’ll probably do your recipe of fudge babies. I wrote the ingredients to buy tonight and I’ll try them tomorrow probably. 🙂

  6. I’m just like you; I plan but I don’t plan! If there is something special I have been feeling like eating I will choose what day I’ll have time to make it and make sure I have the ingredients on hand, but usually I just keep stocked in my basics (fresh fruit, veggies, and other staples) plus a few random things I feel like that week and make my meals from there. In general I eat a lot of the same dishes (hummus! salads! smoothies! raw veggie wraps!) so I know what to get.

    I listen to my body, that way I always know what to eat, whether it is a plate of oranges for dinner or s’mores for breakfast, I obey!

  7. tabitha says:

    thanks for the coconut oil/butter answer–i hadn’t gotten around to googling it yet
    i made almond joy fb’s w/ cc oil and they were yummy!
    each night is a new fb for dessert–it’s a very fun/exciting time for my kiddos (and me) 🙂

    i have general plans
    all the stuff for a week and then i pick which i want which day most of the time

  8. Beth S. says:

    I know you do a lot of pancakes…are vegan waffles possible?

    I plan meals to buy groceries, but if on a day to day basis I eat what I want and it’s not strict. Otherwise I’d spend hours at the store.

  9. susan says:

    OMG I want a magic bullet SOOO bad! My niece a d I used to watch the infomercial together every time it was on… She was 6 haha

    can’t wait to hear about the giveaway!!!

    Thanks for your discussion on planning… People are always tling me to plan plan plan but I find that makes me too obsessive.. So I prefer to fly by the seat of my… Tummy??? =)

  10. Hey Katie,

    we just started our new roommate blog! and we’ve added you to our blogroll! We hope this will help you on your operation! Good luck and we’re in full support!

    Gotta love the unplanned meals!

  11. Oh Katie, you’re too kind. Just doing what I can to help. 🙂

    Sometimes, I plan out meals, but usually only for one day at time. I never plan out the entire week or anything. Mostly just go with what I’m craving in the moment based on what’s in our fridge/cabinets.

    OH MY GOSH. I want a Magic Bullet so bad. Sometimes the Vita is just too big for the job, ya know?

    Love you sweet friend. Have a wonderful weekend!

  12. Chrysta says:

    i used to plan my meals out and I sometimes still do. But I allow for a lot of wiggle room too. I think thats the key to staying on track with healthy eating. Sometimes if i plan out a meal and later I find Im just not hungry for it, well I switch it up then! By the way I wanted to say your snickerdoodle oat bran looks rockin!=)

    hhmmm magic bullet, spiralizer or a hand blender? Ah!! tough choices! All are cool porducts, i just cant decide!

  13. Diana says:

    I almost never plan my meals in advance, for the same reasons you listed. If I’m craving something else I’m not gonna eat whatever I had planned just because. :p

  14. Teresa says:

    First off- you already know that I very often eat fudge babies as my fuel before my early morning runs. Can’t imagine anything better.

    And second, gotta share the Heather love. What a rad girl… she’s such a sweetheart.

    Ok and on to meal planning… I’d have to say that I go through phases with that depending on my lifetsyle and schedule of the moment. But for the most part I like you have a pretty good idea of what food I have available in the fridge and kind of sort of plan around that. Like your oat bran, the night before I might decide “Ok tomorrow for dinner I’m having zucchini pasta,” but I won’t decided what kind (pesto, marinara, creamy alfredo, etc.) until I begin making it at dinnertime. THere is SOOO much food waste in this country and I think it is most important that people take stock of what’s in the fridge to use food at it freshest and not let it go bad!! Can ya tell I HATE wasted food. When it comes to meal planning I think people should do whatever works best for their lifestyle, and Sanity!

  15. I try to plan my meals in advance actually. I find that it really helps with the grocery shopping (and the grocery shopping bill 😉 ).

    Usually I’m fine with what I have planned. But if I feel like something else, I`ll just switch out that days meal for another day.

    It takes some effort, and sometimes I`m lazy and dont get around to it; but I definitely prefer to have my meals planned out.

  16. VeganBabette says:

    I do plan my meals in advance according to the groceries I have, the recipes I want to try and the stuff I don’t want to go bad.

  17. Scott in Ohio says:

    Hey Katie. I linked to your blog from HEAB…so glad I did. Great blog! Your generosity shows right through.

    I’m definitely a planner. My wife and I stay pretty busy so we like to get a lot of meals made ahead of time and/or have leftovers. Whatever works for you, right?

    My sister raves about her Magic Bullet so I’d love to have one of those for quick smoothie making.

  18. I try to plan my meals in the morning when I make my coffee – like if I have a squash on the counter, like now, that needs to be eaten, I will make a plan to eat it that day. I can only do this for breakfast and lunch because dinner Marc and I decide together.

  19. This was such an insightful, heartfelt post– LOVE it!

    I have to plan out my meals.. I guess thats the perfectionist quality inside of me, but it also helps ease my anxiety during meal times.

    I really need to learn how to listen to my stomach.. We always get in fights, hehe.

    Have a fabulous weekend! 🙂


  20. Sarah A says:

    Being the only veggie girl in our house (my parents and older sister are all of the meat-eating variety), I end up ‘planning’ at least a portion of my meals by what produce needs to be used up before it reaches that point of no return. I compost food scraps in our compost heap, but why wait for it to go bad and throw it away when it can be baked or steamed or pureed into goodness? It’s gotten to the point where my family will see browning bananas in the fruit bowl and ask, ‘Why haven’t you done something with these, Sarah?’

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