I loved the feedback you offered me Friday about which topics you enjoy reading about. A popular request was meal planning. It just so happens I could talk all day about this topic. My inner organizational freak loves it and it sure comes in handy once the week begins and life happens.
It all begins throughout the prior week by bookmarking, pinning or taking pictures of recipes I want to try. Then when I sit down to write out the meals for the week, I have some ready to go.
However, rule number one is to BE REASONABLE. I’d love to cook new meals 5 days a week, but chances are I’ll be tired one day, or have too much to do to want to play in the kitchen for an hour. Instead I look ahead at our schedule and plan new meals for days when I have a little more wiggle room. On the busier days I plan simple go-to meals or make-ahead meals.
Sunday- Lemoney Tomato Herb Scallops and Rosemary Bread
Monday- Black Bean Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries
Tuesday- Baked Chicken with Mustard Sauce, Baked Sweet Potatoes and Asparagus
Wednesday- Indian Spiced Lentils and Naan
Thursday- Homemade Meat and Veggie Sauce over Spaghetti
Once I list out dinners, I decided on lunches (usually bowls filled with grains, greens and beans). I plan David’s breakfasts, fruit for the week and a snack option (usually hummus).
The next rule I follow is BE SPECIFIC. I write a list of everything I need for each meal and snack, including quantity (example: 10 bananas) because it’s amazing how my mind goes black once I’m in the store.
I stick to the list unless I catch a deal for a staple that I can’t pass up.
My total bill for the week from the grocery, plus the scallops (enough for two dinners) from the farmers market was $110.57.
Once I get home, I go straight into prep mode. The secret of a smooth week of healthy meals is to BE PREPARED.
Dried lentils are cheap and easy. I decided they’d be my protein source for lunch this week, plus they’ll be ready to go for Wednesday’s dinner.
I chose barley as my grain for the week (I try to mix it up weekly), so I put a pot of dried barley on to cook, too. I set timers and moved on to carrots.
I preheated the oven to 375 while I diced carrots, tossed them in olive oil and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. I stuck them into roast for 40 minutes or so.
Total active prep time- 15 minutes. That’s it!
When yesterday’s lunch time came, it took me less than 5 minutes to throw a healthy, balanced meal together.
Spinach, barley, lentils and roasted carrots microwaved for 60 seconds then topped in La Bonne Vie spreadable goat cheese and Newman’s Balsamic dressing.
My final “rule’” is to BE FLEXIBLE. A week or two ago when David was sick, he only wanted soup for dinner. I decided I was fine eating hummus and crackers for dinner, so I froze the meats and vegetables for later use. I also usually throw an easy meal (soup and grilled cheese or spaghetti this week) that is quick and easy. I can swap it with another dinner if the day gets hectic. It’s important to have an escape route for when life gets busy.
Otherwise, it offers me such peace of mind knowing that dinners for the week are lined up and ready to go.
Last night’s black bean burger (I used Emily’s recipe, but subbed cashews for pumpkin seeds and subbed half the oats for breadcrumbs) with spinach, avocado and sriracha with sweet potato fries.
Do you have any tips to add or any questions?