Meal Planning 101
Meal planning has been my saving grace over the past few years. Between working full time, running a part-time side business, volunteering with a few community organizations, keeping a steady workout routine and updating this blog relatively frequently, time is not abundant. I am rarely home in the evenings to plan, make and clean up dinner - and have leftovers for lunch the next day. Aside from the time it saves me, meal planning has helped me create healthy meals, reduce food waste and keep food costs down.
Everyone has their own meal planning process. Some write down dinner ideas. Some prep bulk items like black beans or rice and make dinner each night with those items. I go a little further and I thought I would take you through my process.
I usually spread my meal planning and prep over a few days, so it's not so intense on one day. Again, this process works for me. It may not work for everyone.
I take 15 minutes on Thursday to find three or four recipes that yield two or three servings each. This gives me approximately 10-14 servings. The number of meals I prep for is dependent on what I have planned for the next week. For instance, if I have a dinner on Friday night, I don't plan a meal for it. Also, I usually have a protein shake or overnight oats for breakfast, so I don't plan for those meals either.
I try to find recipes that use what I already have in my pantry. If I have chickpeas in my pantry, I will find a healthy grain bowl or salad that includes chickpeas as one the ingredients. Also, I try to find recipes that use similar ingredients - so I don't have to buy a whole bunch of mint just to use a 1/4 cup of it.
I write down my meals on this lovely meal planning sheet and jot down the groceries I need to pick up. Some people prefer to use an app, but I'm not fancy and like to do it old school.
All I do on Fridays is buy my groceries. I could probably do this Thursday night or Saturday morning, but this current routine works for me.
This is where the magic happens. I usually get up fairly early (Yes, I am an early riser.), get my workout in and start prepping my meals. One of the my other requirements for recipes is that they generally shouldn't take more than 30 minutes to prepare. I start with the meals that take the longest to prepare, meals that have roasted vegetables or brown rice. I throw whatever needs to be roasted into the oven, boiled in to the pot and sauteed in the pan. Then I assemble whatever needs assembling.
Everything goes into airtight containers to keep everything fresh for the week. Now, I have a week's worth of meals that I don't need to clean up or even think about, which leaves more time to volunteer, blog and work.
Meal planning doesn't always go as planned though. Sometimes, a seemingly normal recipe turns into a disaster, which for you guys, turns into a funny story.
A few weeks ago, I was prepping two recipes (pictured in this post). One of them called for roasted broccoli and chickpeas. I prep each as the recipe instructed, carefully arranged the broccoli and chickpeas on a baking tray and went to put the tray in the oven. Then....WHOMP! The tray flipped and I had chickpeas and broccoli florets ALL OVER the oven! I placed a tray in the oven drawer and scraped my (now very charred and smokey) broccoli and chickpeas onto the tray and put it back in the oven. I still ate it and was still delicious. No harm done.
These are the two recipes featured in this blog:
Until next time,