Elevating Life with a Meal Planning System: A Candid Conversation with Lesley Cain


November 30, 2023

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Embark on a journey through the transformative impact of real-life systems, with a spotlight on a seemingly simple yet profoundly effective system—meal planning. Join Lesley Cain, an enthusiastic student of life and systems, as she unravels the joy and practicality that a well-executed meal planning system can bring.

Lesley Cain is stepping into the spotlight to share her remarkable journey with us. This marks one of our initial opportunities to highlight not only an outstanding system but also an exceptional female student, and Lesley stands as one of the most radiant lights in our community.

Celebrating nearly 26 years of marriage, Lesley is a dedicated wife of Jarrell and mother of two teenagers, a 15-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter, both deeply immersed in their roles as student-athletes. Amidst this vibrant life, Lesley is accompanied by Chango, a lively two-year-old Australian Labradoodle.

Listen below for the entire episode on The Systemize Your Life Podcast

Spotlighting Systems: Showcasing the Impactful Work of Our VIP Student Community

To highlight the remarkable work within our VIP student community, we’ve initiated a project focusing on showcasing the impactful systems these women are implementing. Instead of spotlighting individual students, our emphasis is on presenting the systems that accompany them. The rationale behind this approach is to draw attention to the effectiveness and innovation of these systems, offering insights into the strategies employed by our dedicated community.

Our intention is for everyone to recognize that these systems have the potential to be the shining star in any home, regardless of the unique dynamics of each individual or the woman implementing the system. The emphasis is on making the system work effectively, alleviating the pressure to play the hero. By doing so, we aim to remove unnecessary drama and emotion from the process.

Harnessing Two Decades of On-Camera Expertise: Lesley Cain’s Diverse Journey in the Spotlight

With a career spanning over two decades, Lesley Cain has been a prominent figure in the realm of on-camera talent, seamlessly transitioning between roles as an actor, host, model, and moderator. A notable highlight in her journey was serving as the moderator for the political debates in Arizona in 2018. 

Notably, she recently had the opportunity to participate in a conference where she conducted on-camera interviews with keynote speakers on behalf of the organization. This experience provided her with the chance to engage with globally recognized experts in plant-based lifestyle medicine, including medical doctors and dietitians. Lesley continues to navigate the multifaceted world of on-camera work, embracing exciting opportunities and contributing to her rich and varied career.

Lesley Cain embarked on a new and unexpected venture this year by launching her podcast, “The Vibrant Survivor,” on January 3. With a background in on-camera talent, acting, hosting, modeling, and even moderating political debates in Arizona in 2018, podcasting introduced a fresh and exciting dimension to her career. Despite not foreseeing herself in the podcasting realm, Lesley has found the experience to be truly rewarding, connecting with a diverse audience and sharing valuable insights. 

Organizing Joy; Creating Structure

Lesley has consistently identified as an organized individual, finding joy in the art of organization since childhood. Maintaining a well-ordered space has been a source of pride, extending beyond her room to various areas of her life. Although discipline hasn’t always been her strong suit, she has experienced growth and evolution in that aspect. The love for organizing and a deep-seated craving for structure have remained constant throughout her journey.

Growing up in a rather dysfunctional household, Lesley’s inclination towards organizing became a coping mechanism, a response to the trauma she experienced. This connection between organization, trauma, and a sense of safety is crucial, especially when navigating challenging circumstances. Throughout various stages of her life, this inclination has remained a constant.

Crafting a Future: Navigating Transitions with Structure and Purpose

Currently, with the perspective of her children transitioning into adulthood, a busy husband at the helm of his own company, managing employees and dealing with travel, along with the presence of a young dog, the need for structure and organization becomes even more apparent. Recognizing that planning for life beyond her children’s graduation is essential, Lesley aims to proactively shape her future rather than waiting for pivotal moments to guide her path.

Lesley recognized the urgency of putting things in order, not only to set an example but also to educate and train her children. Alongside her husband, Jarrell, they prioritize discussions on emotional intelligence, crucial conversations, and imparting practical life skills to their kids, which includes instilling the value of organization. 

Lesley emphasized the importance of her children acquiring these skills, especially as they will eventually need to manage their households and personal spaces. She consistently advises her daughter to start developing these skills early, emphasizing their relevance for future independent living. Simultaneously, Lesley acknowledges the necessity of modeling these behaviors to effectively guide her children in cultivating these essential life skills.

Unlocking Success: Lesley’s Journey to Integrating Systems

Lesley discovered Systemize Your Life through Stefanie Gases’ “Podcast to Profit” mastermind modules. While initially absorbed in setting up and optimizing her podcast during the first round of the mastermind, the incorporation of systems took a backseat. But she acknowledged the importance of having a recipe for success, recognizing that having systems in place is crucial for effectively managing both personal and business aspects of life.

In the summer, specifically while on vacation in Puerto Rico, Lesley found the time to reflect. It was during this period that she decided to take action upon returning home, determined to implement the systems she had learned. Excitedly, Lesley took the plunge and set the wheels in motion to integrate this essential piece of the puzzle into her journey.

Striving for Balance: Nurturing Personal Pursuits and Family Roles with Strategic Systems

Lesley emphasized the vital role of systems, whether applied within the household or beyond, for personal growth and professional success. This strategic approach aligns with Lesley’s own commitment to implementing vital systems, igniting a passionate and purpose-driven journey.

One of the most impactful systems Lesley integrated into her routine during her time in the program is meal planning—a significant game-changer for her household. Prior to implementing this system, Lesley had navigated various stages and phases of life, putting in effort to be creative and accommodate everyone’s preferences. However, the persistent and often challenging question of “What’s for dinner, Mom?” remained a constant source of concern. Lesley acknowledged the relatable desire to hit the mute button on that particular query. Over the years, she faced moments of less-than-enthusiastic feedback, especially when her children were younger.

Transformative Systems: Lesley’s Journey to Empowerment in Family Dynamics and Meal Planning

Reflecting on past experiences, Lesley acknowledged that seemingly simple questions like “What’s for dinner, Mom?” or critiques can hold deeper significance, especially for those who have faced trauma or grown up in dysfunctional family dynamics. The impact of such inquiries can be heightened in situations involving complexities like triangulation between parents, creating an environment where family members are set against each other.

Lesley intimately understands these challenges, having been tasked with cooking while her mother pursued a Master’s degree at night. Triangulation from her father added an emotional layer, leading to feelings of guilt despite her mother’s commendable efforts.

Lesley’s narrative takes a transformative turn as she seized the opportunity to break free from the cycle. Implementing structured systems became her key strategy, creating an environment where everyone’s voice is heard, choices are respected, and the burden of last-minute meal decisions is lifted. This approach not only fosters a sense of shared responsibility but also introduces joy into the act of cooking. Through pre-selected favorites in the meal plan, Lesley empowers those around her to actively participate, fostering a more harmonious and inclusive approach to family meals.

Now, there is a smoother flow in the meal planning process. This implementation has proven to be remarkably effective. Lesley observed that everything seamlessly falls into place, allowing her to actively involve the children in the decision-making process. Responsibilities are shared, whether it’s the children preparing a meal or her husband taking charge, as he did during a recent college visit with their daughter.

Efficiency Unveiled: Methodical Meal Planning System for Harmonious Family Dining

The implementation of the meal planning system involved meticulous adherence, with a structured approach to ensure its effectiveness. Lesley designated a specific day for grocery shopping, experimenting with various days over the years before settling on Saturdays. The process begins with communication, either through texting or verbal discussions with the family to gather their meal preferences for the upcoming week. Lesley first compiles a detailed shopping list, fine-tuning it based on any additional requests received. Saturday becomes the designated day for grocery shopping, ensuring that all necessary items are acquired.

Following a collaborative planning session with Jarrell on Sundays, Lesley engages in batch cooking in the afternoons. This has evolved into a relaxing and enjoyable routine for both of them. Jarrell actively participates in the process, contributing his unique approach to cooking. Lesley, in turn, takes the opportunity to prepare meals and align everything with their meal planning calendar. This strategic and well-executed approach has proven to be instrumental in streamlining the meal preparation process for the family.

Streamlined Living: The Command Center Revolutionizing Meal Planning and Household Organization

Lesley’s journey toward efficiency began with a simple weekly menu board, evolving into a personalized command center sourced from Etsy. This central hub not only encompasses meal planning but integrates seamlessly with household communication and chore management. At the core of this system is a meticulously organized family calendar, color-coded for each member, detailing appointments, travel plans, and other engagements.

Beneath the comprehensive family calendar lies the meal planning section, strategically placed for easy reference. Lesley allocates space for at least four major meals per week, featuring essentials like a vibrant rainbow salad with a homemade dressing. The plan extends to accommodate leftovers, ensuring a practical and sustainable approach to meal prep. By intentionally buying enough ingredients, Lesley maximizes the potential for lunch leftovers or convenient next-day dinners.

The weekly routine takes an enjoyable turn on Saturdays, designated as a night to eat out. This aligns seamlessly with Lesley and Jarrell’s date night, providing a natural opportunity for the kids to order in or enjoy a meal out with friends. Sundays, on the other hand, are reserved for simple and easy-to-prepare dishes as the family readies itself for the upcoming work and school week. Lesley’s meticulously crafted command center stands as a testament to the art of organization, transforming daily routines into a streamlined and harmonious lifestyle.

Empowering Teamwork: The System in Action

Having successfully implemented her comprehensive system, Lesley found herself away from home with her daughter, exploring colleges and athletic programs. However, beforehand, she made sure everyone knew about the new system. Communicating the intricacies of the plan, she outlined expectations and ways in which each member could contribute.

In August, Lesley and her daughter embarked on a journey to Oregon for a soccer ID camp and school tour. Their absence coincided with the weekend, a period when Lesley was typically involved in grocery shopping and meal preparation. However, to her delightful surprise, her husband, Jarrell, stepped up to the plate. Armed with a grasp of the system, he collaborated with their son to devise a meal plan, executed the grocery shopping, and filled in the menu board.

While Lesley and her daughter were away, Jarrell immersed himself in the task, enjoying his guilty pleasure of watching “Heartland” while batch cooking various dishes. Upon their return, Lesley discovered that Jarrell had not only fulfilled the meal plan but had also stocked the fridge with an array of pre-prepared items, including pasta, chili, Brussels sprouts, and salads. The execution was so flawless that Jarrell even sent Lesley a screenshot of the completed menu, proudly announcing, “Dinner’s ready.” Lesley returned home to a seamlessly executed plan, with everything in place and the family only needing to enjoy the fruits of this collaborative effort.

Empowered and Connected: Celebrating the Success of Household Systems

The profound satisfaction Lesley experienced in her husband seamlessly taking charge of the household routine during her absence serves as a testament to the aspirations of many women managing their homes. The hope and desire for a smoothly operating household, even in the mother’s absence, encompasses not just routine execution but a deeper understanding, respect, and buy-in from all family members.

In envisioning the dynamics of Lesley’s family, there is a palpable sense of a nurturing and supportive space. It’s heartening to witness the existence of whole, healthy, and loving families led by women who invest considerable care into implementing systems. Lesley’s journey is a source of inspiration, highlighting the collective effort to run a tight ship while fostering an environment of love and understanding.

Beyond the Dinner Table: Building Harmony and Emotional Intelligence in Family Life

Lesley emphasizes the transformative power of the larger family command center, transcending the “What’s for dinner, Mom?” dilemma into a comprehensive system. This centralized hub not only streamlines practical aspects of meal planning but also offers a contextual overview of family dynamics. It facilitates clear communication about individual schedules, enabling proactive adjustments based on anticipated needs—like accommodating a family member’s travel plans.

Lesley also highlighted that guys appreciate the clarity and structure that systems provide. Jarrell, in particular, embraced the system with enthusiasm, finding satisfaction in its black-and-white functionality. His positive response underscores the innate inclination many individuals, regardless of gender, have for implementing and problem-solving within well-defined systems.

Beyond the logistical benefits, Lesley delves into the personal significance of creating a secure and communicative environment. Drawing from her own upbringing in a dysfunctional household, Lesley is committed to breaking generational cycles. Her aim is to instill emotional intelligence, foster crucial conversations, and provide a foundation of safety and security for her children. Both Lesley and Jarrell have done a beautiful job in the creation of a home that stands in stark contrast to Lesley’s own upbringing—a space characterized by love, safety, and emotional well-being.

Crafting Life’s Tapestry: The Transformative Power of Systems in Family Dynamics

Lesley’s journey beautifully illustrates how she has woven systems into her life, creating a dynamic that is not only functional but also deeply enriching. The systems implemented have not only streamlined daily routines but have provided a platform for enhancing the overall dynamic within her home. By introducing clarity and structure, the emotional guesswork is minimized, making communication straightforward and efficient. 

 “Lesley’s journey beautifully illustrates how she has woven systems into her life, creating a dynamic that is not only functional but also deeply enriching.”

The beauty lies in the simplicity of these systems, transforming complex emotional dynamics into a tangible formula. Lesley described it as identifying the variables—establishing who is A, who’s B, and the result is C. This clarity becomes a catalyst for positive change, offering a clear path for the family to navigate through various aspects of life.

Jarrell’s pragmatic approach echoes a sentiment often found in households where systems are embraced—efficiency and progress take precedence. The systems become a tool not only for managing daily tasks but also for fostering a mindset of collective action and accomplishment. The transformation Lesley has achieved underscores the power of intentionally integrating systems into the fabric of family life, creating a harmonious blend of structure, communication, and shared purpose.

Nourishing Body Snd Soul: A Holistic Approach To Family Well-Being

Lesley’s journey from a childhood of processed foods in the Midwest to her current commitment to holistic health and natural living is a testament to the transformative power of conscious choices. With a background as a Master Certified Health Coach and Trauma Support Specialist, she recognizes the profound impact of food on overall well-being.

In her pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, Lesley has experienced tangible benefits, from improved energy levels to radiant skin, hair, and nails. By making mindful dietary and lifestyle changes, she has successfully navigated away from potential health issues that affected her ancestors. This commitment to health is deeply personal, especially considering her husband’s experience of losing both parents to cancer at a young age.

Lesley’s passion extends beyond physical health to the emotional and psychological aspects of food. She emphasizes the role of food not just as fuel but as a means of promoting overall well-being, particularly in the realm of brain health and trauma healing. In teaching her children about mindful eating, Lesley aims to instill a foundation of health and wellness that goes beyond mere dietary choices.

The family dinner table is a significant arena for connection, education, and the establishment of a sense of security. Despite the challenges of coordinating schedules, Lesley and her family prioritize regular family dinners as a means of fostering emotional bonds and creating a supportive environment. As her children approach the point of leaving the nest, Lesley and her husband are intentional about maximizing these opportunities, aiming to set a positive tone for their children’s future health and well-being.

Empowering Transformation: Tailoring Systems to Fit Your Life

Lesley reflected on the profound impact systems have had on her life, describing them as a blessing that provided a more solid framework for her existing practices. Emphasizing the importance of making these systems her own, she said it was much like an outfit that is purchased but uniquely tailored; systems are integrated into her life in a meaningful and personal way. This process allows everyone not only to operate within a structured framework but also to express themselves authentically, making a statement that suits individuality and aligns with values.

Scheduling Success: The Power of Time Blocking and Weekly Planning

Lesley highlighted the effectiveness of time blocking, a practice that has significantly contributed to the organization of her busy life. Collaborating with her husband, Jarrell, they’ve turned weekly planning into an enjoyable routine, often transforming it into a date at a local café. Armed with highlighters, Lesley meticulously fills in her time blocks during these planning sessions, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the week ahead. 

The process involves not only coordinating schedules but also taking a broader look at the month to accommodate the various dynamics within their household—active athletes, school commitments, work, and businesses. Time blocking has become a cornerstone of Lesley’s routine, instilling a sense of commitment to showing up for herself and others confidently. Whether it’s dedicated work hours, workouts, date nights, or cherished moments of downtime, each activity finds its designated space in the schedule. This intentional approach not only enhances efficiency but also fosters anticipation and enthusiasm for the moments carved out for self-care, connection, and meaningful routines.

Get in Touch with Lesley!


Resources To Get You Started

As we conclude Lesley’s inspiring journey of integrating systems into her life, we witness the transformative power of intentional planning and time blocking. Lesley’s experience with menu board meal planning and her commitment to weekly planning with Jarrell showcase the effectiveness of these systems in creating harmony amid the bustling dynamics of a busy household.

If you’re intrigued by the prospect of implementing such impactful systems in your own life, I invite you to explore the wealth of knowledge available in such episodes like Quick Guide to Meal Planning and Prep and How to Make A Healthy Meal Routine As a Busy Work From Home Mom. Until our next encounter, wishing you success in systemizing your life for a more organized, intentional, and fulfilling journey ahead.


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