Meal planning is a necessary evil around these parts. Necessary because it helps us save money and prevents food waste. Evil because sometimes it’s just a pain to figure out exactly what to make week after week, especially when you’re trying to keep it healthy and interesting and varied.
Now I know how my mom felt all those years! Week after week, she would ask, “What should I make?” And week after week, our response was always the same, “I don’t know.”
To avoid the above situation (for the rest of my life) and keep my frustration at bay, I devised a simple four step meal planning process, and I plan to stick to it as much as possible in 2016. Especially when things get a little crazy!
Ok, so here goes…
1 – Open up to a clean page in your meal planning notebook (yes, you should have a notebook just for this!). On the left hand side, list out the days of the week in one column and across the top list out all the meals you are planning for (breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner).
Carefully think through the days of the week and what meals you will need. For example, breakfast is always the same for us, so I only have to think about my lunches (99% of the time Vishnu eats at the hospital) and our dinners. Consider potential leftovers, meals out, etc.
2 – Now that you know exactly what needs to be made and in what proportion, you can start browsing through cookbooks (The Oh She Glows Cookbook is my absolute favorite!), Pinterest, and blogs. Personally, I like to make one or two new dishes every week and stick to my own tried and true favorites for the rest.
Note: Make sure there’s some overlap of ingredients between meals. This will help save money and eliminate food waste!
3 – Before heading to the grocery store, survey the contents of your fridge and pantry. You guys have no idea how many cans of chickpeas we now have all because I thought we were out!
4- In order to make this whole process worthwhile, STICK TO THE LIST when shopping! I was just telling Vishnu what a huge difference this makes. Take this past week as an example. I ended up almost $15 under budget! All because of a plan and a list!
So there you have it, my four step meal planning process. It doesn’t get any easier than this!
How do you plan your meals for the week?