This has been a long requested post! I really love making food for family and friends and because I also love organizing, meal planning is something else I enjoy! Some of my friends and a few readers have asked for a post on how I meal plan. I hemmed and hawed over this post. How to write it, how to make it clear this is what works FOR US, how to not make other people out there feel like failures because they hate meal planning, etc… Let me make it very clear: this is what I enjoy. I love organizing. I like cooking. It is completely okay if you dont. Dont beat yourself up. Dont feel guilty about it. Add it to your list of things you dont do, and forget about it. Also, this is just how WE do it. There are so many ways out there to figure out meals. This is not a be all end all type of post.
Let’s get started!
I use these nifty pads that I have found at Pier One but have seen lots of places to make a grocery list. We go once a week on average. I really like fresh salad and I dont like going to the store every day, so once a week is a good amount of time for us. We also happen to only be a 25 minute drive from our favorite store. Im sure I would go less often if I lived in a more rural area.
Next I grab a cook book or two. My favorite cook books of ALL TIME are by Southern Living. Each year they publish a book with all the recipes from all the monthly magazines. I like SL because the recipe’s are all delicious, not everything is required to be made from scratch, and the books are organized super well. The index’s in the back are lifesavers. Most cook books are organized by month. This makes eating seasonly, or somewhat seasonally, very easy. Whatever month it is, flip to the month before or after and peruse. I like other books too, but I cook mostly out of Southern Living.
Making new recipes is a really fun adventure for me, so I make a goal to try 3 new recipes a week. Sometimes it doesn’t happen that way, but I try. I also always ask Jared if he is in the mood for anything. Sometimes he isn’t and leaves it up to me, but he also mentions tacos, chili, shepherd’s pie, etc… often. We have a good rotation of staples if I am stumped, or I dont feel like trying.
I make 4 meals a week. We have leftovers 2 days a week. We have pizza or a pre-made frozen meal from Trader Joe’s once a week. We like leftovers. If you don’t, be sure to adjust your recipe measurements and shop accordingly.
I go through the books and pick 2-4 recipes. Depending on how many I pick, I fill in with staple meals. As I am picking recipes I am also making the grocery list. I mark off whatever we dont have. What’s nice about the little pads is that you can mark off as you run out of things throughout the week as well.
Here is what we had this week:
- Friday: Stuffed Peppers from Big Night In
- Saturday: Crock Pot Sour Cream Ranch Chicken with Salads (A friend told me this recipe, I can share another time if people are interested!)
- Sunday: SUPER BOWL!!
- Monday: Smoky Ham and Corn Chowder with Kale from Big Night In
- Tuesday: Leftovers
- Wednesday: Baked Tempeh with Broccoli
- Thursday: Leftovers
So that’s 3 new meals (Fri, Mon, Wed), 2 Leftover Days, 1 Staple Meal (Sat) and then the Superbowl (finger foods!)
I somewhat subscribe to the 1 Protein, 1 Starch, Lots of Veggies theory. I do make sure there are veggies with every meal. We mostly do sandwiches or more leftovers for lunch. For breakfast, its cereal, yogurt and granola, and green smoothies. After I mark off what we need for dinners, I go through and mark off what we need for lunch, snacks, and breakfast. For example: Yogurt, Spinach, Frozen Mango, Oranges, Bananas, Chips and Salsa, 2 boxes of Cereal, etc…
We only do a week at a time because plans change and I dont want food to go bad. This process works really well for us. Go through the cook book, pick out some recipes that sound good, as I am doing that write up the grocery list, and shop. I’ve tried to keep it as simple as possible and as relaxed as possible.
The last thing I do is write on our white board, that is on our fridge, what we will be having each day of the week. It looks just like the bullet list above. I scratch out each meal when I make it. Everything goes smoothly if I make what I am supposed to each day. And nothing goes bad.
How do you meal plan? Do you like trying new recipes, or do you hate cooking? I’d love to hear about it!!