The Pandemic and My Third Child Made Me Finally Embrace Meal Planning (And I’ll Never Go Back)

meal planning
Photo Credit: Jayme Burrows

April 17, 2021

by Ariel Knutson

Before the pandemic, Clean Plates founder Jared Koch thought about meal planning the same way many people thought about meal planning: It seemed like a good idea! He should probably do it! But for whatever reason — a big move! his own company! a third baby on the way! — he just never got around to it. 

Then the country went into lockdown.

Like many people, Jared and his family were forced to adjust their shopping and eating habits. “The pandemic and our 3rd child forced us to finally try meal planning,” he says. And now that he’s on the meal planning bandwagon? “I wouldn’t go back to doing it any other way,” he says. “We’re saving time, saving money, and eating healthier.”

Save time, save money, eat healthier: For as little as $6 a month, the Clean Plates Meal Planner can save you $100 and 10 hours of time — every month. It’s literally a no brainer.
Start your free trial now!

How Meal Planning Saves Jared Koch More Than 2 Hours and $100 Every Week

For starters, meal planning means less time figuring out what to eat. “We were spending so much time just talking about what we were doing for dinner,” Jared says. “It was a big distraction.” 

He estimates he saves at least 15 minutes every day and maybe more

Now, instead of trying to figure out what’s for dinner every day after work, he spends it doing something else — hanging out with his kids, meditating, or working out. 

Meal planning also saves him about a half hour and around $50 every week for grocery shopping. “When I’m shopping I know we’re shopping for those particular meals,” he explains. “It makes it very simple.”

And, because he and his family are eating out and ordering in less, they’re saving around $25 per meal that they make themselves. Not to mention, the meals they make themselves are healthier than the meals they’d otherwise be ordering out. 

Put it all together and it adds up to very real savings. 

Those very tangible savings made Jared realize that other families were probably struggling with the same problems. Which is why he was inspired to create the Clean Plates Meal Planner.

Save time, save money, eat healthier: For as little as $6 a month, the Clean Plates Meal Planner can save you $100 and 10 hours of time — every month. It’s literally a no brainer.
Start your free trial now!

The idea behind the meal planner is simple: Save time and money while eating healthier, satisfying meals that make you feel good. Also: Because healthy looks different for everyone, meal planning will probably also look different for everyone. 

That’s why there are 15 ready-to-go meal plans to choose from — but you can also pick and choose and come up with a meal plan that’s completely customized for you. There are more than 300 recipes that meet a wide range of different diets and ways of eating, from vegetarian to Paleo to low-carb to Mediterreanean. 

Once you’ve selected (or created) your plan, the Clean Plates Meal Planner streamlines shopping through auto-generated grocery lists and one-click ordering. And after that? Sit back, relax, and wait for the doorbell to ring. Or, take those extra minutes of your day and get some steps in, make yourself a calming cup of tea, or get in some quality play time with your kids. 

Sounds pretty great, right? The Clean Plates Meal Planner is here to make it all happen. Plus, read on to find out what Jared’s super-simple meal plan routine look likes.

What Meal Planning Looks Like for Clean Plates Founder & CEO Jared Koch

When you think of meal planning, you might think of regimented planning sessions that map out every single meal of the week, perhaps combined with all-day Sunday meal prepping. And that’s certainly one version of meal planning, but it’s not the only one. 

For Jared, it’s more low key: He makes sure his kitchen is always stocked with ingredients to make a handful of meals, which are more like templates than actual recipes. 

For breakfast, the meal that needs to be quickest with school Zoom calls and work meetings, they’ve been doing a lot of healthy cereals (Nature’s Path, Cascadian Farms, Forager) and oatmeal; waffles; avocado toast; and lots of fruit. 

For lunch it’s a mix of turkey roll-ups, tuna on rice crackers, peanut butter and jelly, frozen pizza, yogurt parfaits, and leftovers. 

For dinner, here are the 8 “recipes” Jared turns to most:

Eggs: One big omelet with whatever is in his kitchen at the moment. It’s always heavy on the vegetables, and he’ll usually add in lox, bacon, or cheese. 

Sausage: Either an organic chicken sausage or a mild Italian pork sausage. Sliced for the kids, whole for the adults.

Pancakes: Paleo pancake from Birch Benders, served with banana and some nuts. 

Hot Dogs: Grass-fed hot dogs served with vegetables and a bunch of different condiments like ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, barbecue sauce, and raw sauerkraut, a new favorite for both his 3- and 5-year old daughters.

Pasta: Gluten-free brown rice pasta. Meat sauce for adults, butter and Parm for the kids.

Beef: Ground beef in various forms (meatloaf, burgers) or sometimes steak. 

Chicken: Chicken breast, cooked on the stovetop or oven. When it’s mostly cooked, Jared chops the chicken up and continues to cook it so the chicken feels more like chicken tenders for the kids. 

Burritos: Frozen gluten-free Annie’s burritos with salsa, frozen corn on the cob, and fresh greens like spinach or broccoli.