You guys I am so excited about part two of our meal planning guest post series! I know that meal planning is a crucial part of making eating healthy a reality. I also know that what works for one person might not work for you. I wanted to give you some other people’s perspectives. I hope this gives you inspiration!-Sophie
quick and Easy Meal Planning
by Molly Rudick
As a working mom, wife, and a bunch of other things I call myself, I don’t have the time to stand looking in my refrigerator every night for inspiration on what to make for dinner. Additionally, my husband does most of dinnertime cooking even though I do the grocery shopping and meal planning. Without a system, we would both be extremely frustrated and end up eating out more than necessary.
A good meal plan starts before you go to the grocery store. It starts with The Plan (in my house it has the extremely creative title of Meals for Next Week). I always arrange my grocery delivery on the weekends, so I need to make my grocery order mid-week to ensure I get a timeslot that works with my schedule (for more benefits on grocery delivery services, see my post – The Financial, Health, and Time Saving Perks to Grocery Delivery). So I need a plan, to make this grocery list. Here is an easy way to make your meal plan:
Step 1. Grab a cookbook or two: Get a couple of cookbooks and flip through the pages. I prefer cookbooks with pictures for every recipe. I judge books by covers, wines by the bottle, and recipes by the picture. If you’re not interested in cookbooks, scroll through your favorite recipe boards on Pinterest and pick out your favorites.
Step 2. Write it down: If you’re planning to make chicken parmigiana write that down. Start an email to yourself, get a dry erase board for you refrigerator, or use paper and pen. Make sure you write down where you found the recipe (the name of the Pinterest board or the cookbook and page number. Believe me – you should do this. You’ll thank me next week).
Step 3. Start your grocery list: Check your freezer and cupboards to see if you have any of the required ingredients and whatever you do not have, put on your grocery list.
Step 4. Finish your plan: Pick out all of the meals for dinner and write them down. Don’t forget breakfasts and lunches also.
Step 5. Finish your grocery list: If you hard boil a bunch of eggs for your breakfast for the week, make sure those are on your grocery list. If you plan on making chicken salads for lunches next week, don’t forget the chicken or the salad ingredients. Simple breakfasts and lunches that you can repeat every few days or every couple of weeks is a great way to always have ideas for lunches and breakfast. I eat eggs for breakfast every day. I hard boil them one week and scramble them the next week. Occasionally I make omelets. Find a few great breakfasts and lunches and just rotate through them so that you don’t have to think that hard on it.
There you have it. You have a meal plan for the next week. It takes me less than an hour to do all of this while sitting on my living room couch watching tv one night a week. The key is in the planning, but the execution is where you’ll see the benefits of the planning.
Now what do you need to do to successfully execute it?
Step 1. Grocery shop: I know, this is self-explanatory. To make meals, you need food.
Step 2. Keep the plan visible: Hang it to your refrigerator. That way, you always have it ready and waiting for you.
Step 3. Prepare your food early: Make sure you prepare your food on the weekend or the night before you need it. Make all of those hard boiled eggs and that package of chicken breasts on Sunday to have them ready for your busy week. After dinner at night, look at your plan and decide what you’re going to have for dinner the next night. Set out anything that needs to thaw, cut up vegetables the night before, and prep anything else you can do to make it easier the next night. For more food prep advice, see my post – Food Prep Tips.
Step 4. Mark the meal off your Plan once you’ve made it. That way if someone else has to decide for the next meal, they know it’s already been made.
Step 5. Cook, eat, and enjoy.
I like to email my meal plans to myself. That way I can reference them while I’m at work during the day or running errands. Also, when I’m really crunched for time, I can just skip Steps 1-4 of making The Plan and just create a grocery list while re-using a previous meal plan.
What great tips do you have for meal planning?
Meet Molly the author of this post
Molly started Molly’s Pitcher to be a place where people could share ideas for how to balance work, life, finances, health, and all of the other aspects of life that we struggle to maintain during the busy day. As her responsibility increased in both her work and personal life, the amount of time she had shrank dramatically.
Balance became her goal: balance between work, family, health, and wealth. Her and her husband work to balance their separate career’s, a toddler, their dog, and their lives all while ensuring that fun and learning continues to be a part of their lives. Visit Molly at http://www.mollyspitcher.com