Meal planning… what is it?! My definition of meal planning includes planning meals eaten throughout a period of time. In my case, I plan my meals about a week in advance. I find produce doesn’t last much longer than that, if at all! I love meal planning. My type A personality thrives on it. I come home from a long day at work and know exactly what I’m eating for dinner. I also think meal planning really helps keep my husband and I healthy. I plan specifically dinners because our house runs on leftovers.
I’m sure some people probably hate cooking, but for me, I truly enjoy spending time cutting vegetables, or searing lean proteins. I almost find it therapeutic after a long day. I first learned how to meal plan when I was was growing up. My mom had everything planned out and would tackle the grocery store with a list in hand organized by aisle. Now, that’s how I plan and go through the grocery store, too (thanks Mom)!
Here are some of my favorite tips to keep meal planning fun and enjoyable:
1.) Keep it simple: Have a few go-to meals that you know you are going to love and enjoy. My husband loves calzones. I think I have made them every Friday night since we’ve been married (which means we’ve eaten way too many calzones). I also love making fritattas. I made (and still make!) these all the time because it is cheap and a quick way to get a decent amount of protein and a chunk of veggies.
2.) Get inspired: Sometimes I really lack when it comes to coming up with meals. If that ever happens, I flip through my latest Food Network magazine or pull up Pinterest for a quick burst of inspiration.
3.) Check the forecast: Yes, you read that right. The weather. It helps me plan nights that we might be able to grill out. Let’s be honest, BBQ chicken doesn’t taste quite as good when it’s made in the oven. Also, who craves a salad on a rainy day? No one. Soups and comfort food make their appearance in our household on those days!
4.) Plan your shopping day: I try to avoid going to the grocery store more than once a week. That’s how you can really end up spending lots of extra money on food you might not even need. This tip can also tie into days sales are taking place. Pay attention to those ads that you receive in the mail. They can help you plan your menu and save money at the same time based on what is on sale.
5.) Organize the list: Like I mentioned earlier, my mom listed every item by order of the aisle. By doing this, you avoid overbuying and food waste. I absolutely hate wasting food and sticking to the list made from your meal plan will eliminate both of those problems.
6.) Stock your pantry (and your fridge!): Have the essentials on hand at all times so you can create a meal with minimal fuss. Bon Appetit has a great list to check out. This list probably varies by household depending on what you eat.
7.) Prep: When you get home with your meal planning grocery stash, prep what you can! I love chopping up veggies, (this is a huge lifesaver for me as veggies are my grab and go snacks for the week), throwing proteins in marinades, making salad dressings… the list goes on! You future self will thank you.
So, what are we eating this week?
Meal plan for 4/21-4/28
- Tuesday: Jerk chicken and pepper Kabobs with coconut quinoa
- Wednesday: Crispy baked Asian salmon and asparagus
- Thursday: Sweet potato, spinach, chicken sausage quinoa bake
- Friday: Calzones (a Friday tradition with homemade crust)
- Saturday: Out
- Sunday: Baked chicken wings and salad
- Monday: Garam masala chicken stew with peas and potatoes
- Tuesday: Chicken quesadillas with whole wheat tortillas
Hopefully some of these tips can be helpful to you and maybe give you a little inspiration to start planning on your own!
Do you menu plan? What are some of your favorite recipes? Share below!