How we: meal plan

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MEAL PLANNING can seem scary. Especially when you type it in all capitals. My coworkers cringed when they caught me planning while eating my lunch at work. “You’re one of those people?” they asked. Gah!

But it shouldn’t be a scary thing. For one thing, it saves you time during your week. It saves you money (in spending less cash and in producing less food waste). It reassures your husband that you will eat good food that week. And, best of all, it assures that you avoid that terrible moment when you realize, driving home from a 12-hour shift, that you have nothing to eat for dinner.

Do it before you grocery shop. Set a timer. Don’t take longer than 5-10 minutes. This is supposed to make you stress out less about your week,  not cause more anxiety. (I’m sorry if it seems like I think you’re an anxious person… I do hang out with nurses all day!)

Deep breath.

1. Pick a format that works for you. A former housemate typed hers up at work. Pretty. Some people have menu chalkboards. Fancy. I use scrap paper. Scrappy.

2. Take a quick look at your week. Plan to make meals that works with the time you’ll have that day. What days will you need a fast meal? When do you have more time to try out that new recipe? Honey Roasted Plums with Fresh Thyme and Greek Yogurt? Yes please.

3. Think about what you have. What do you need to use up before it goes bad? Leftover sweet potatoes and sour cream from last week? Voila. Then think: What’s on sale? What do you want to eat? What does hubby/houesemate want?

4. Don’t forget: Breakfasts, lunches, and snacks! Ensure your marital happiness: Make sure there are breakfast options for your husband’s 5 am breakfasts. Are you getting five a day? Come on people!

5. Write it all down. God job! You now have a plan. I always feel better when I have a plan.

6. Make your shopping list based on what you need. Just what you need. Trust me. You can do this.

7. EXTRA CREDIT: Think about what prep tasks would make cooking more efficient. Do you need to soak beans for a meal on Tuesday? Write it down to-do on Monday. Do you need to thaw some pesto for your pasta on Wednesday. Does it make sense to make two meals at once– one for the allotted night, one for the next? You’re so awesome to think about that in advance. Good job.

Other tips:

  • It might be helpful  to have a list of meals you like to eat. You could categorize them by the amount of time they take to make! By expense! I’ve gone too far.
  • Be flexible. It’s OK if you eat your Monday meal on Wednesday because Sunday’s made 2 days worth of leftovers.

This is how we do it. Do you do it? How do you do it? Are you giggling like a 5th grader because I said ‘do it’ three times?

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3 thoughts on “How we: meal plan

  1. Awesome blog! I love your title. I attempt to meal plan, but often my own whims hijack my menus. I write a general plan or a list of possible meals and then cook the ones I feel like.

    I’ve also found that I’ll have a meat of the week. On Monday or Tuesday, I’ll roast a whole bird or 3 lbs of pot roast. Then I’ll use that meat for the rest of that week’s meals. Left overs become pot pie, pizza, enchiladas, quiches, pasta dishes, meaty zest for vegetarian main courses, and finally I’ll boil the bone’s for soup. There’s something a little adventurous about trying to make a good meal out of the odd assortment of leftovers and produce you’ve collected.

  2. Another tip: Don’t forget your bag lunch when you actually make it. Instead you’ll have to buy something less tasty and four times the cost while your lunch sits on the dining room table feeding no one.

    =)

  3. Hey Maggie! Love this tip, more people should plan their meals. It really makes everything alot easier. I’m like you: scrap paper. And also usually just plan about 4-5 days ahead. When we do plan for an entire week, we tend to leave on day (i.e. sunday) empty: this opens up for leftovers or changes of plans during the week(such as friends wanting to go out for dinner, a migraine headache, etc). In a worst case scenario (no leftovers!) we eat sandwhiches, oatmeal, or cereal….

    Oh and also….I recommend soaking and cooking beans in large portions, then freeezing in smaller portions – ready to eat!

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