Weekly Meal Planning helps us to eat healthily, waste less food, save money and reduce the amount of stress around meal time.
I have attempted to meal plan in the past but was never able to fully commit. I get overwhelmed with having to plan out all of our meals and eventually just give up and go grocery shopping for whatever looks good. Then I attempt to use everything we purchased by creating recipes on the spot. In all honesty, I usually fail to use everything and end up wasting food.
So what changed? Having a third child has changed things. One of my goals for this postpartum period was to limit how much we dine out and order take out. The only way to help prevent this from happening was to create a meal plan with recipes/meal ideas that were easy for Neil to put together and it has worked. Over this postpartum period, we have only eaten out at times when it was already implemented into our meal plan, we have used up 90% of our groceries, and overall we are eating more healthily than when I wasn’t meal planning. Being able to take advantage of grocery pick up from Fred Meyer (Kroger) has been a life saver as well.
Meal planning allows us to spend less money. We aren’t running out to pick up one or two things and coming home with five. We know what we are having for dinner in advance so we are able to prepare meals and are less apt to go out to eat or order take out.
Just remember to…
Keep it simple. Meals don’t need to be elaborate. Many of our meals are as simple as protein, grain/pasta/bread/starchy vegetable, lots of vegetables, healthy fat and sauce/condiment.
Example: BBQ Tofu (simply Amy’s BBQ sauce + Tofu), baked potatoes, massage kale salad (kale + olive oil + lemon juice + coconut aminos), chive cashew cream (chives + soaked cashews + lemon juice + ACV + S&P) and grapes for the kids. Simple, easy and loved by everyone.
Account for snacks, treats & drinks. When planning your meals/grocery list make sure you are including your favorite snacks, treats (ice cream, chocolate, etc) and drinks. These are most often the things that we run out for and then of course that turns into picking up some additional items.
Clean The Fridge Meal. Include a clean out of the fridge meal. This can either be eating up leftovers or simply using up any veggies and/or proteins that are left in your fridge before you do your weekly shop.
Give Into Your Cravings. Have you been wanting pizza all week? Add it to your next meal plan. Either make it at home, pick up your favorite frozen/take-and-bake or plan for a pizza night out. In my experience when I ignore my cravings it just makes me want them more and then I end up going off plan and eating out or buy more ingredients to make what I’m craving. Now I just plan for it and I am able to save money and be more mindful about my food choices.
Weekly Meal Rotation. Make your life easy and plan weekly meals either the same recipe every week or every two weeks. Alternatively have themed meal nights like Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday or Leftovers Night. Here are a few more themed meal night ideas.
Keep Staples On Hand. Meal planning sometimes has it’s hiccups so allow yourself room to improvise. For example I ordered our groceries this week and I ended up with baby spinach with a short expiry date, a bag of potatoes that had a few bad potatoes in it and some avocado crazy kids who ate 4.5 of the 6 avocados I ordered in less than 24 hours. So I had to make a few adjustments to our meals. For this reason I like to order an extra veggie and have a few staples on hand just in case.
At first meal planning can feel like a chore and just another thing you don’t have time to do but after a few weeks you’ll find your groove and it will become easier and easier. If you have a week that gets you off track don’t fret just return to your planning the next week.
Do you meal plan? What are some of your favorite go to meals?