I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m a planner. If things aren’t organized, I get irritated. But, I also don’t want organizing to take over my entire life. That’s just crazy, and no longer helpful.
How do you find a balance? Keep it simple, sister.
Meal planning is one area where spending just a few minutes to prepare each week can make a HUGE difference in the money you’re spending and the quality of food you’re eating.
We’ve all experienced that hunger that takes over and drives your car directly to Taco Bell before you can give the quesadilla a second thought. However, if you plan your meals for the week on Sunday, you can avoid spending those extra dollars and extra calories on something you’ll regret. (Not that I really ever regret Taco Bell. It’s the guiltiest pleasure I can’t explain.)
Instead of risking the binge that comes knocking every time I get hangry, I set aside a couple minutes every Sunday to plan my menu for the upcoming week. I don’t have a special app or printable to keep track of anything.
Here’s what I do:
- I take a look in my pantry, cabinets, fridge and freezer. I make mental notes about what types of food I already have available.
- I think about meals and recipes that contain those ingredients. Usually, I’ll reference my recipe board on Pinterest to remember recipes I’ve recently tried or pinned to try later.
- I try to choose a variety of meals with different ingredients that make up a good balance of proteins, veggies and grains. A variety of flavors is always nice, too.
- I make a list of the meals I’ve chosen and the remaining ingredients I need to purchase to complete them. That list is saved simply in the Notes app on my phone and/or in my LifePlanner.
- I run to the store, grab what I need, come home and relax.
That’s it! I don’t make every meal ahead and freeze it for later. I don’t calculate every single calorie I’ll be taking in. I just try to find a balance, so I’m eating healthy, saving money and not panicking later when it’s time to eat.
I know there are tons of detailed meal planners, calendars and apps out there that take this to the next level, but I feel like that’s too much work, at least just for one or two people. It’s so easy to wake up in the morning, check my list, see what I’m making that day and defrost or prepare the ingredients. Then, I don’t have to make decisions or think about recipes when I’m busy with work, blogging and doggy bathroom breaks during the week.
I think that’s the key—taking a moment to plan ahead when you’re already relaxed. Which is why I like planning on #SundayFunday when I don’t have a million and one other things going on. I’m sure this gets harder when you have children to feed, but for all the single ladies and couples out there, this works.
Here are a couple other things to consider when planning your meals:
- Try to buy meat in bulk. Meat’s expensive, and although it makes me feel very domesticated and uncool, we LOVE Costco for buying meat and other foods that last a while. They have individually wrapped chicken breasts and 1 lb. servings of ground turkey that are awesome to keep in the freezer until you need them.
- When you have items stocked up in the freezer, try to plan meals around them. For example, plan to make ground turkey meatball sandwiches if you already have ground turkey in the freezer. Then, you just need to buy sauce and rolls on Sunday if you don’t already have them.
- Think about leftovers for lunch. If you know your boss is ordering pizza on Wednesday, then choose a meal for Tuesday night that isn’t likely to have leftovers. That way, you can make a bigger meal on a night when you’ll need leftovers for lunch the next day.
- Variety is key. If you’re having a protein-heavy meal one night, go for something with mostly veggies the next night. Or, if you have two different varieties of chicken and rice you’ve been wanting to try, save one for next week, so you don’t get bored this week. You’ll be less likely to break your schedule and order takeout if you’re excited about your healthy, homemade meals.
- Try new recipes! This is so important. Do you realize how lucky we are to live in a world with Pinterest? There are literally millions of amazing, easy recipes at your fingertips that dedicated bloggers are creating with YOU in mind. You have no excuse to be eating boring foods every day.
New to Pinterest? Try searching for specific recipes that include ingredients you already have or want to try. If your mom gives you a round roast and you have no idea what that is or how to cook it, do like I did and search “round roast recipes” on Pinterest. Chances are there are tons of other people already making that darn round roast in a variety ways, and you’re going to like one of them. (I went with these Southern Slow Steaks from Tasty Kitchen. They tasted delish, but fair warning—those steaks are a bloody bitch to cut. Ew.)
Hanger is real. How do you eat healthy without spending a fortune? Do you go crazy with a super meal planner, or do you just wing it? Share your tips and tricks in the comments section below!