One week in and it feels like slipping into an old pair of jeans. Meal planning gives me the structure I’m after in a comfortable and familiar way. I’ve been getting the meal planning boot camp emails the past four days (anyone else?!) and even though I’m very familiar with the method of meal planning (see my favorite how to meal plan tips here), I’m enjoying the refresher course. A few of the best getting started with meal planning tips include:
- Find a method that works for you. Paper? Electronic? Calendar? Whiteboard in the kitchen?
- Write a list of your family’s 14 favorite meals to keep as a go-to.
- Take inventory of your fridge, freezer, and pantry.
- Write all the ingredients for every meal you plan on your grocery list, then go back and cross-out anything you already have. For example, still write rice vinegar on your grocery sheet if a recipe calls for it, but then cross through it if you see you have a nearly full bottle in your pantry.
Now, our meals and grocery list for the week!
I love my meal planning notebook because it allows me to write the week’s meals and my grocery list in one accessible spot. Nearly every time I meal plan I end up flipping back through old meal plans wither through the notebook or in my weekly meal plans archive.
For breakfast this week I made a batch of banana nut toaster pop-ups using store-bought oat flour instead of pulsing the oats in a processor. A few people asked how this would work and I’m pleased to announce it works just fine! The pop-ups turn out a lot fluffier and softer though, more pancake like than the hearty pop-up texture. Either way, they are easy and tasty for a wholesome morning breakfast.
I wrote down refried bean tortilla wraps for kid lunches, but we’ve still been eating up leftovers for the most part so we will probably save those for this upcoming week. I’ve been enjoying sweet potato and black bean chili all week as the temperatures here have dipped low (it was 10 degrees when I woke up yesterday).
Dinners this week were as follows:
Yellow Rice with Black Beans and Broccoli
This is a recipe from the How Not to Die Cookbook (affiliate link). I’m new to the cookbook, but after trying two of the recipes, I have a good feeling about it. The food is so wholesome and nutritionally dense. Plus, the whole family has enjoyed the meals I’ve made from it. The girls both ate this rice dish up. David and I found it slightly bland, though a splash of hot sauce made all the difference. I roasted extra broccoli and mushrooms on the side and was pleased I didn’t even need to dip into my filler food (blue tortilla chips and guacamole).
Lemon Oregano Chicken Thighs
This is a simple one-skillet chicken dish that I’ll be sharing with you soon. I think it looks so fancy, but it is actually an easy recipe! Plus I appreciate dishes that make a sauce because it works to just throw it over a grain (in this case farro) and serve it with simple green beans.
On New Year’s Eve we were supposed to be going to a friend’s house but I wasn’t feeling 100% so we cancelled. I hadn’t picked up anything to make, so I ended up throwing together a cheese/leftover board and calling it dinner.
On New Year’s Day, we had our traditional meal: black eyed peas for luck, collard greens for money, and tomatoes for love in the coming year. I also make pork chops using this brine (minus the ancho chili) for David and the girls.
Vegetable Chili with Homemade Sourdough
Last night I made another meal from the How Not to Die Cookbook. My expectations for it were actually low, but I ended up really loving it! The fresh turmeric gave the dish depth and it was much heartier and more flavorful than I had anticipated. It was a little spicy for the girls (the chile pepper is optional and I opted yes), so I mixed some sour cream into their bowls and it worked beautifully.
I’ll definitely make that one again, despite all the vegetable chopping is requires.
We will have a red lentil and chickpea curry tonight and tomorrow I’ll end the week with a simple ravioli meal before we start over with a new meal planning week. If you have any vegetarian dishes you are loving- please send them my way! I’d love to make them and report our feedback.
I think falling back into my routine of meal planning Thursday, shopping on Friday, and doing food prep Saturday and Sunday is going to continue to work well for us for the time being. With our schedule picking up again in the next week (Discovery Place science classes, music class, Girl Scouts, Hailey playing basketball, etc), I’m going to need to incorporate more quick meals or meals I can prep ahead of time. Is it weird that I’m excited for that challenge?
Oh! I’ve been asked if I’m now eating vegetarian/vegan. No, I’m not, but I am aiming for more plant-based meals. I am shooting for 4-5 vegetarian meals a week, but I’m not opposed to a good steak or chicken dish here and there either. I am feeling good eating this way and the grocery bill has been a pleasant surprise.
Even buying mostly organic produce and splurging for the BPA-free cans, my total for a week’s worth of meals was $160 at Publix. True to my love for efficiency, that means we will be out of food almost completely come Friday so I might add in some extra food to have on hand next week, but wow, I was excited by that!
Share with me- are you into the meal planning groove this year?
What is the biggest challenge you face when trying to meal plan?