FOOD · LIFESTYLE

How to Make a Weekly Meal Plan (Plus! Free Printable)

Pre-PS: Enrollment for Life is Messy Bootcamp® is now officially OPEN. Click here to lean more!

Earlier this year, I took (what feels like) a 2 month vacation – Bogota + Basque Country + Paris + San Francisco + Sydney. It was epic.

And I did it right. I set auto-responders for the first time in my life. Fully disconnected from all my to-dos. Drank lots of wine. Had the most delicious feasts. Totally indulged. No regrets.

Coming back has been a little hard thou.

The week I returned I ended at the ER. Diagnosis: Vertigo. And that’s not all. Doctors had to run some blood tests. Results: My colesterol is 291 what the hell? And to top things off the scale is 10 pounds off (wink, wink).

Needless to say, I’ve had my wake up calls.

I had a totally different post planned for you this week, but in light of recent events + brought upon myself circumstances, I’m decided to share with you the ONE ritual that never fails me. This habit alone always helps boost my productivity + confidence + happiness + kickstart my road to feeling better about myself. 

The routine I’m talking about is: Sitting down to write a weekly meal plan.

By plan, I mean planned meals. Planned meals are weekly breakfasts + weekly lunches + weekly dinners that don’t feel rushed + that are put together with love + leave you feeling satisfied and happy. I’m talking about dinner parties with special friends + Mexican nights with the in-laws + Iron Chef Saturdays + romantic dates with my man serving homemade Black Bean Burgers with Roasted Sweet Potato Fries. I’m talking about meals worth sharing on Instagram.

When I don’t meal plan, things get tricky. One day spontaneity rewards you with your new favorite chili recipe. “Oh look! Adding mushrooms instead of ground beef tasted so good. WOW! But most times, you’re left with cupcakes that never rise in the oven + a grumpy stomach + having to play menu roulette once more + feeling like crap seconds later.

Planned meals mean never again wondering what’s for lunch. Never again wondering with the fridge door wide open. Never again rushing to the supermarket for last minute groceries without a grocery list. Been there? Done that? Me too.

Planned meals mean less rotten food in your fridge + less garbage inside your temple. Less excuses, more love in your belly.

When you have a system in place, you’re happy + you save money + you fit inside the clothes you wanna wear. Minus the tantrums. You feel centered + grounded + in harmony + empowered, most of the time.

I want to challenge myself, and I want to challenge YOU to steal my step-by-step Meal Planning ritual. Try it. Tweak it. Paint over the parts that don’t work for you.

STEP 1: PICK THE RECIPES

I start most Sunday mornings (emphasis on “most”) with (a) a Greek Yogurt Parfait with fresh strawberries + homemade granola + honey; (b) a stack of cookbooks; (c) a pad of Post-It Page Markers. I’ve pretty much ritualized flipping through cookbooks + flagging the recipes I want to sample next. Hubby thumbs up or thumbs down my picks while playing FIFA. Team work. Aha!

The goal is to pick recipes that match your diet + taste buds + lifestyle. What’s the point of adding “Cherry Rhubarb Country-Style Pie” to the mix if:

  1. You hate making pie crusts;
  2. You have a crazy launch week ahead;
  3. It’s not cherry season;
  4. Out-of-season cherries are freaking expensive
  5. You’re saving for a new DSL camera, remember?

Get real.

Don’t have any inspiring cookbooks in your collection? Crap excuse. There’s Amazon. Meet Google. Buy my cookbook. Visit YouTube. Cruise Pinterest. Hop on foodie blogs. They are your friends. Use these resources to find what you need. Type: “Healthy Salads” + “Clean Cupcakes” + “Green Smoothies.” My go-to Meatless Ragu recipe was born out of searching “Meatless Ragu.” Mind blowing.

In recap, pick one day of the week you’ll sit down + handpick the recipes you want to eat in the week ahead.

STEP 2: PICK THE MENU

After selecting my recipes, I grab my Weekly Meal Planner. I print many ahead of time. First, I put an “X” on the meals that I know will be eaten out of the house for family birthdays, showers, or extraordinary occasions. Then, I match up recipes I’ve picked with openings on the planner.

I’ll even lock down my snacks, so instead of reaching for Dulce de Leche, I go for the carrot sticks with turmeric hummus. Know what I mean?
Sounds easy? Cuz it is!

STEP 3: SCAN THE RECIPES

When filling my Weekly Meal Planner with my dishes, I scan the recipes + ingredient list + special appliances + directions. Then, I check my pantry/fridge stock. Do I have what I need? What do I need to get? I write it down on a grocery list.

This easy step helps me plan out what I need from the store or my local farmer’s market, so I can skip what’s already in my fridge or cupboard.

Sometimes, I’ll even make two grocery lists: One big one for the month + another one for mini-runs to get fresh produce.

Marrying my Weekly Meal Planner with my grocery list is not only ridiculously helpful for stocking up the kitchen, but also to group + organize meals smartly on the schedule, knowing that some things need to be eaten before others + some make sense to make ’em in batches. Think ahead. Visualize the flow.

STEP 4: GO SHOPPING

My dad goes to the supermarket every other day. His juice factory is right behind a local supermarket chain, so he’s found a rhythm that works for him.

Hubby + I do one big ass supermarket shopping spree a month to get napkins + toilet paper + dried beans, things like that. And we do mini weekly runs to buy fresh produce + fresh flowers, typically late Sunday afternoon or Monday morning.

Look at your calendar. When’s convenient for you to habitualize grocery shopping?

STEP 5: MEAL PREP

Around 4pm-ish, when my attention span crashes, instead of scrolling my social media feeds, you’ll find me in the kitchen whipping out treats or prepping sauces with my ninja chopping skills. Yeah, I bring my OCD wherever I go.

Maybe you need to soak nuts ahead of time. Maybe your crust needs to chill out in the freezer before pouring in the filler. Breads need yeast + time to rise. Pasta needs boiling water. Marina sauce tastes twice as good when it cooks on low heat for 3 hours. Can you Tupperware that + freeze it for next week?

When you’re a step ahead, you’re unstoppable.

STEP 6: BON APPETIT

When it’s time to eat, sit down for a mindful meal. Light candles. Turn off the TV. Cellphones go in the basket. Play a little Bossa Nova in the background. Use the fun cloth napkins. Fresh flowers make everything taste twice as good. I’m serious. I want you to fully experience the joy of eating. Look at your plate + smell it’s aromas. Party with it’s textures + let your palate run loose. Give thanks for all the good things that entered your life that day.

That is it my friend!

TIPS + TRICKS

Allllllright alright. I know meal planning takes a little time, especially the finding your groove part, but ultimately it saves you time + stress during the week. You also may find that a meal plan helps you to eat better + cut down junk food from your diet. Pow!

Here are a few suggestions to take your system to a whole new level of awesome:

  • Double check. Make sure you examine your fridge + pantry before heading to the store with your grocery list. You can easily blow way your budget buying a third jar of cinnamon. I bet you’ve got a lot of goodies in there. So check.
  • Stock up on the essentials during sales. Only two phrases can change a woman’s mood: (1) I love you; (2) 50% OFF. If you arrive at the supermarket + there’s a big sale on organic berries, snag those babies! They may not have been on your initial meal plan, but, hey, you can freeze them + throw them into your smoothies or make soft serve ice cream. The same goes for dry staples, like grains + beans that aren’t going to go bad in your pantry. When on sale… improvise + think on your feet.
  • But in bulk. While cruising the supermarket, head straight to the bulk bins + stock up, especially items that don’t perish too quickly! As your bulk food staples grow, you’ll have shorter shopping lists + an arsenal of inspiration for your home-cooked meals. Added bonus: Display your beautiful beans + grains + spices in mason jars throughout your kitchen.
  • Cut back on restaurants. Holy guacamole, do those restaurant bills pile up! Make your dinner table the new hot spot. Mouth watering backyard BBQs + romantic pizza nights + potlucks with girlfriends + family get-togethers over finger food can revolutionize your culinary senses. No need for Zagat stars. I’m not saying that you should never step foot in a restaurant again; just try to limit your visits. They suddenly become more special + more of a fun affair when they do happen.
  • Eat with the seasons + shop local. Farmers markets are a great place to buy organic foods on the cheap. In-season produce is almost always going to cost less, so try to be flexible + cook with the harvest.
  • Grow your own garden. This year David + I started a mini herb garden (I’m so excited!). It’s exponentially more economical to grow your own food. Whether you live in a studio or a mansion, there’s always room for a few pots of greens. A two-dollar packet of basil seeds will support your salad + pesto-making habits for months.
  • Get creative with the leftovers. Place your fresh herbs in water pots. Wash + store your produce in Debbie Meyer Green Bags to extend their life expectancy. When your produce looks like it’s about to go south, resuscitate it in a delicious stew or casserole. Have you ever tried leftover lasagna? Is even better than on the day you made the lasagna. I’m serious. With a little TV Food Network action, leftovers can be transformed into Pinterest worthy meals.
  • Batch. Batch cooking is another way to save time + money. Double or triple your favorite recipe + freeze the leftovers for a quick + healthy meal when you’re in a pinch. We do this all the time with my signature marinara sauce. We make it in advance + transfer it to airtight container + freeze + thaw for pizza parties or whatnot.
  • Play detective. If you’re like me, you definitely have budget leaks (aka knee-jerk spending at Amazon + Pottery Barn + Etsy + Anthropologie). Look at your bank statements. Identify where you need a little bit more self control. I noticed I was going a little overboard with nut butters, so I started making my own at home. Problem solved!
  • Pay attention. When my food expenses start creeping up, it’s usually because I’m being a bit of a slacker, not a culinary diva. Check for symptoms. Is your apron accumulating dust? Are the takeout menus getting more action than your ukulele? Do you have Dominos on speed dial? The signs are right in front of you, if you’re brave enough to open your eyes.
  • Start your personal/family recipe vault. After a while, you will start to notice patterns – recipes you naturally gravitate towards + others that you don’t fancy that much. Take note. Archive your favorites in cute recipe cards. This trick alone will make your menu picking ceremony significantly more efficient + guarantee you always have safety, comfort dishes on da menu.

DO THIS NOW: Download + take your Weekly Meal Planner for a spin, every week.

My request is simple: Just follow the steps + share your insights in the comments below – What are you putting on your Weekly Meal Planner? 

You know what would be even cooler? To see pictures of your meal planning in action. Snap + share ’em on social media. I want to see how it’s going. How you’re feeling. How you’re making it happen. Imagine how much fun it would be to see everybody’s interpretation + system? So inspiring!

And as for me, I hope to (at the very least) get my colesterol down. Bonus if I can fit into my clothes again.I can’t wear these sweat pants forevz.

 

 

 

PS: Would you like to be a part of a planning club for girl bosses who are all getting together to get our sh*t together? Click here to learn more!

PERSONAL

I will miss it. A lot.

Today, our alarm clock didn’t go off. Olivia wakes us up at 6:19am. Her bus picks her up at 6:30am. I panicked as she said, “Ya es de día mama… quelo ir a la escuela.” (English Translation: It’s daylight mom… and I wanna go to school).

I seriously considered telling her it was Sunday, but in a split second of rush/adrenaline/guilt/mom-power, I said, “We’re gonna make it”. Skipped the usual bubble bath. No Moana tunes. Brushed her teeth very quickly. I forget if I combed her hair. I know for sure there was no time to accessorize her uniform with the usual wood pearls n’ such. Grabbed her lunchbox, but forgot to pack a spoon for her yogurt. Called the elevator. When we got to the lobby, the bus was coming into the drive way. “Look, we did it!” 

It’s official, I blinked and she’s a threenager waving me goodbye. And as I take it all in, I wanted to write this post to remind myself to ENJOY IT. All of it. To let her climb into bed with us at night. To hold her a little tighter when all she wants is to shower with me. To sing that song she requested for the 12th time. To read that book, again and again. To embrace the exhaustion, the overwhelm, the hard days, cause I know one day, not that far away from here, I will miss it. A lot.

DESIGN · PERSONAL

BIG NEWS: I Made A Unicorn and It’s So Fluffy!

Back in May 26, 2015, I designed the most magical unicorn for my friends at Undercover.

Juicy, a handsome + good-hearted unicorn was born in an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper that was then hand painted, scanned and digitalized with love by my 10 little fingers. 

Since his earliest days, Juicy has worked side by side with a handful of do-good organizations to help children in need. He’s become somewhat of a celebrity around town for his good looks and philanthropic endeavors.

But he’s lived in Rainbow-2D-Land. Until now.

Juicy is officially ALIVE!!! And it’s so fluffy!!! All thanks to the great vision of #girlboss Mary Quintero, CEO of Undercover.

Meet Juicy Fernando, the most magical friend for a rainy any day.

Want one?

I am so so so happy to announce that Juicy Fernando is now available for pre-order here!

First parcels will ship out October 1st, 2018. My birthday month. Hip hip hooray!

Save 15% when you order during the pre-sale period. Plus knock and EXTRA 10% when you use my exclusive coupon code “messy” (without the quotations).

Click here to shop now!

Be sure to follow the hashtag #JuicyFernando to catch Juicy’s adventures. 

 

 

 

Designed by @mayicarles

Powered by @undercoverboots

 

 
BUSINESS

Cycle of an Idea

I realized the other day that ideas have a life-cycle. Like house plants + banana muffins. Somehow, I always thought ideas were timeless, life fairy tales + McDonalds french fries.

As I was franticly going through every item on my grocery list to double check I wasn’t missing any of the ingredients to make my infamous granola recipe, I became aware that ideas have stages – from aha moment to launch, and everything in-between.

Sometimes, ideas live inside a forgotten Moleskin journal. Other times, they are planted in fertile soil by dreamers.

Ideas get stuck quite frequently too, in decision paralysis + overwhelm + rejection. Some, never make it to the sun. Others, beat the odds.

Today, I set out to map out the cycle of an idea. Here goes.

Lightbulb Moment

“Look who’s finally decided to show up? Miss Epiphany Fairy! Where were you? I showered. I called. I text messaged you. Gimme a sec to get my notepad, I wanna write everything down!” This is the initial spark.

Dream Phase

The magical place where you suddenly can’t stop thinking about your idea. Once lightning strikes it becomes an addiction. You’re in Disneyland. You’re seduced by the rush. You can’t shut up about it. You daydream about all the possibilities. You tell your mom, “Mom, I’m gonna be a millionaire!!!”. Wait you’ve never called your mom to tell her you’re gonna be a millionaire? Right. Me neither.

Implementation Station

The big commitment. “I’m serious you guys!” proclamations. The day you sit down + take a deep breath + look at your idea + tease it apart + open your calendar + map out a plan to make it happen. The plan sucks, most likely. Will probably get rewritten 107397344 times, but who’s counting? The ball is rolling. I love rolling. Rolling feel freaking amazing. And you know what happens when you feel great? Exactly! You do great sh*t. Starting is sublimely revolutionary.

The Dip

The rough patch. The low point. The moment when things stop being exciting + fun, and they start being, how can I put it lightly?, a pain in the ass.  The place where you find yourself asking, “Is it really worth the hassle?”. According to the bestselling author Seth Godin, what really sets superstars apart from everyone else is the ability to escape dead ends quickly while staying focused + motivated when it really counts. This is the tipping point of all ideas, either you quit or you conquer. 

World Domination

Alright, it might not feel like “WORLD DOMINATION” yet Pinky, but if you’ve made it this far you’ve already done something remarkable. You are part of the 1% who didn’t drop off when it hurt. You won because you didn’t give up too soon. The challenge now is to surface new milestones. Maybe it means bundling up a blog series into an e-book. Perhaps it’s turning an digital guide into a hard cover coffee table book. Or it might mean developing your very own app. Whatever it is, you’ll figure it out champ.

. . .

The other day I saw a headline, “I’m just here tinkling the ivories: Eccentric British pianist plays piano to blind elephants at the top of Thai mountain.” I’m serious, don’t you EVER let anyone tell you your ideas is too crazy, that it can’t be done. This guy hauled a piano up a mountain to play music for blind elephants for God’s sake! Sometimes crazy is the only way epic is born.

Our extraordinary capacity for imagination, to dream better, has given rise to the most far-fetched ideas that have taken us from caves to the moon.

Blaze on supernovas. Blaze on!

In what stage of the idea cycle are you in? Tell me in the comments.

 

 

Need help taking your BIG ideas from ground zero to the BIG world stage? Take a peak at 5K Sales in 365 Days – a quirky + practical guide to creating best-sellers in pajamas. 

This is my personal behind the scenes + my plans + my classified strategies + my reasons + my marketing + my research techniques + my customer service + my odd decision making + my sequences + my thought process + my e-mails + my pitches + my challenges + my solutions + all the messiness in-between. All packaged into 15 never-shared before lessons, totaling 140 pages of classified for-your-eyes-only biz info. 

I brought 5K Sales in 365 Days back from the aches after 2 years off the market. Made some tweaks and revamps, and if you grab it today you save $40.

PERSONAL

Did I Ever Tell You About That Time I Got Stranded in an Island?

I have a confession to make.

Sometimes, when I’m scrolling through my Instagram feed and I see all those gorgeous pics of millennials having money fights in yachts (or what surely looks like it), I secretly daydream of fame + glory.

Sometimes, when I’m filming videos for my blog, I fantasize about having my very own video crew – make-up artist + personal stylist + copy wizard on my team + art director + second camera gal for B-Roll. It would be nice. And easier.

Sometimes, when I’m planning my launches, I imagine what it would be like to do everything I wanna do without having to worry about the freaking budget.

Sometimes… WAIT!

Did I ever tell you about that time I got stranded in an island?

Here’s the story.

I used to be a Program Coordinator for a Central American initiative that gathered the very top leaders in the region under one roof to talk about leadership and giving back. My back in the day gig.

Roatan, Honduras. June 28 2009. I was getting the final details ready for our next leadership seminar so I could finally go snorkeling. At approximately 9AM one hundred soldiers stormed the president’s residence in Tegucigalpa + flew him to San José, Costa Rica. Actions which he immediately called a “coup” upon his arrival there.

Later that day, Roberto Micheletti, the President of Congress and next in the presidential line of succession, declared a “state of exception” suspending civil liberties + various curfews were imposed nationwide.

Our conference was canceled. Obviously. Airports were closed. Mojito pool service was suspended. Sh*t!

Three days in, I’m STILL stranded on this island will all these VIPs, but no seminar. Things start to get scarier, and then… I have this vivid memory of Andres Botran, CEO of Ron Botran*, sitting by my side making phone calls.

* Mind you, Ron Botran is a line of rums from Guatemala distilled by the Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala, the same distillery that produces the world renowned + award-winning Zacapa line of rums. Aka his a freaking big deal.

Andres hangs up the phone, and says, “I got us a plane out of here, but it’s gotta happen within the next 3 hours. All bags stay behind”.

This would be a secret operation since all air travel was banned.

“I’m in”, I said. It seemed like my one opportunity to do something dangerous + adventurous to tell my grandkids. My Mission Impossible moment.

That night I arrived safely in Panamanian soil. Coincidentally it’s also the night David asked me to be his girlfriend.

And that day I learned about the power of being somebody. Someone very important people respect + admire + love. About the power of knowing people, who know people, who know people. About the power of being able to snap fingers + make the unimaginable happen.

And I remember thinking, “I WANT SOME OF THAT!”

One day I want be able to pick up the phone and be like, “Hey sistah, it’s Mayi Carles here. I need a favor. I mean a plane.” Or whatever.

For years, I’ve been scared to reveal this secret. Will people think I’m an ego-maniac? Am I?

Am I ku-ra-zy for wanting to live in a world were problems get solved by people? Not United Nations, not governments, but PEOPLE?

Am I selfish for wanting to live in a world were honest hard work gives you influence? Influence to truly create big tsunamis of change in the world, the good kind?

Am I opportunistic for wanting to live in a world where karma is at stake everyday all day? Karma that gets innocent people out of sticky situations, sometimes in the form of a private jet, why not?

Am I alone? Wouldn’t it be nice to be recognized? To be stopped in the street by complete strangers, “Hey, I saw what you did there. I thought that was pretty cool.” And to use that “celebrity” status to make the world a better place?

Can we talk about it? In the comments? Cuz I don’t want to feel weird about this anymore.

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