I always love the idea of cooking but lets be honest, when you have kids and a job and a blog, usually cooking is not on the table every day. I use to just pop in frozen dinners (trader joe has amazing frozen food), eat out a lot and cook sad to say, junk food. Although we try to make a habit of eating better, majority of the time it wasn’t good food. I wanted easy meal planning.
One of my resolutions was to eat better this year. I wanted to cook food from scratch and actually enjoy it. I won’t lie half of the time I didn’t enjoy cooking because it was either time consuming and I was exhausted from the day or because 90% of the time I didn’t know what to cook! So this year I decided to meal plan, and let me tell you I wish I would of thought of it sooner. Not only do you know exactly what to buy at the grocery store, you can keep yourself in budget and no food goes to waste. Once I started I couldn’t stop, it made me actually enjoy cooking.
LEARNING TO MEAL PLAN
What has changed that I didn’t do before:
- I made sure to have a notebook to write down my meals for the week. There are some awesome meal planners out there but I needed to start right away so I just grabbed the closest notebook I had. If you want to get a meal planner I would go for it, they already have the days lined out and space to add shopping lists. Not that you can’t do that with any other notebook laying around, just it’s nice to have it all played out for you. All up to you, just pick a day to plan out what you will cook for the following week.
- I look at cook books, recipes online or that I’ve saved in my evernote. I decide what recipe i want to try for what day. I usually pick out 3-4 meals to cook. I try to stick to easy ones like slow or pressure cooker recipes or 5 ingredient meals to save me time. I leave the hard recipes for the weekend.
- After I’ve picked the meals, I make a list of all the items I need from my recipes and other items I want to get just because, like snacks, my trader joe frozen meals etc. To make it easier put categories, like dairy, frozen, meats so you won’t give yourself a headache finding the items at the grocery store.
- I picked Sunday to buy my groceries. I go in with my list and you don’t even understand how quick I shop with this list. No more browsing the aisles, trying to figure out what to cook for the week, I just grab and go.
Some fun Tips
- If i’m slow cooking or making a salad I try to do big batches the night before so I have some left over for lunch the next day and there’s leftovers to eat for the week. It will make your weekly groceries stretch to almost two weeks.
- Collect recipe books that you know you will cook with (more on my favorite recipe books soon). Don’t get recipe books on how to make fine french food when you know very well you won’t have the time or interest in eating or getting special ingredients to make the dishes. Get books that you know you will have time or interest in. Like I’m not a seafood eater so I won’t get a recipe book on different sea food dishes, I know I don’t like it, so I won’t make it even if they rave it’s delicious. Obviously. My current favorite one is Skinny Taste Fast and Slow.
- Try to cook similar meals if your’e on a budget. So for example lets say you need cheaper meats to cook with this week because you don’t have a bigger budget for the more expensive meat the recipe calls for, instead go for chicken meals. So get all the chicken recipes and collect them together for the week and do: Chicken Tacos, Breaded Chicken Breast, BBQ wings, Slow cooked shredded chicken chili. Simple and easy on the pockets.
Hope this helps you get on tracked with your meal planning for the week,. I cannot explain how awesome it feels to know what to cook daily and it also makes my husband super excited to see what new recipe we’re going to try out. I’ve joined weight watchers recently and this has helped me tremendously in keeping track of what I eat. What are your tips on meal planning that you like to do?