Meal Planning. It either overwhelms you or makes you giddy with delight as you fan out all of your color-coated folders with recipe ideas. I can be found somewhere in the middle, that foggy grey area is where I live on so many issues. I refused to “meal plan” for a long time, because I didn’t really have to. I would think through things, but liked the leave it open ended incase we felt inspired to have something else to eat. These days I am in the mom zone, I try to work during nap-time, and we are living more frugally than we have in the past. So Meal Planning makes sense more now than ever. The more I have embraced it, the more I have found freedom in it, and the less stressed I feel at 5pm thinking “what are we doing for dinner?!”.
How It Works:
I typically think through each week of meals on Sunday afternoon. I plan out Monday-Friday, leave Saturday open + usually end up thinking “We have nothing to eat!” on Sunday. I try to do my grocery shopping on Sunday + Monday. I go to lots of different places. But I don’t go to them all every week.
I shop at Trader Joe’s and the local Produce Stand (Southside Produce, if you are in Baton Rouge.) pretty much weekly. I also get stuff at Costco + Wal Mart. I don’t buy a ton at Costco usually, so sometimes Patrick will stop by on his way home from work and grab the few things we need from there. And Wal Mart is usually for random and household items so that is not weekly. I sometimes visit other local grocers for sales on meat, International Food Stores for specialty items + try to frequent our weekly Farmer’s Market.
I will go to one store on Sunday and the others on Monday morning if need be, and almost always without fail I will forget something, even if its on my list (because shopping with a 1 year old can be distracting), so Patrick will swing by the store to grab noted forgotten goods.
I have found creating a rough outline allows me to be creative within these boundaries. Maybe you agree and this works for you, or maybe you think “I AM SUFFOCATING!” and that is cool too. I will do this until I decide that is no longer a good system for us and then we may end up switching it up. That is also okay. But this is the rough outline I use to plan our meals each week.
MONDAY: Meatless Mondays
While we do not follow a specific eating regime, I think a healthy diet is built off vegetables and plants. The practice of meatless monday is creating at least one meal that is plant-based and nutrient-rich. Also, if you are following a budget, not buying animal protein for every meal will really save you money. I have shared some vegetarian recipes on the blog previously, and plan to share more soon. Here are some great ideas:
• Black Beans + Rice (can use leftovers Tuesday on Tacos)
• Vegetable Stir Fry (recipe coming soon)
• Veggie Burger (can make or be a boss and get frozen ones form Trader Joe's or Costco)
• I pretty much take lots of recipes I like and make vegetarian version.
Great Vegetarian Blogs:
TUESDAY: Taco Tuesday
This is just fun. Because who doesn’t love some form of a taco? We typically do either Barbacoa (Mexican roast beef), chicken fajitas, fish tacos, or black bean vegetarian tacos. You could just as easily have traditional taco meat. We ALWAYS have some form of avocado, shredded sharp cheddar cheese and some variety of tortillas. I like to mix it up but keep it within the confines of TACO.
WEDNESDAY: ROTATING STAPLE
Whatever new meal sounds interesting that week. That or a rotating staple. I get stuck on something I like usually and keep making it until we get tired of it and move on for awhile. I may make vegetable curry every week for a few months and then stop until we miss it. This would be a great night for that rotating staple meal.
Leftovers. Plain + simple, whatever is left from the meals thus far. This would be great to do on your busiest night of the week.
Friday: NO FUSS
Something fun + relaxed. NO FUSS. For us a lot of times its homemade Burgers + Fries or flatbread pizzas (recipe coming soon)
We don’t pick up food all that often, but if we were going to, it would typically be on Saturday.
Sunday: MAKE IT WORK
Its a mix. Often its a roasted whole chicken so I can use leftovers in another recipe or a quick + easy stir fry. I like the idea of Sunday being a nice formal dinner, but that doesn't usually happen.
I find by having a theme, even just for two nights of the week, that it helps free up some of the stress that can surround cooking dinner. I am excited to start sharing our weekly meal plans to maybe inspire you to try something new or just take some extra stress off your plate. I don't always stick to this template 100% of the time because LIFE HAPPENS and we gotta stay flexible, but having this to fall back on and use as a general guide makes it a lot less stressful to have good food on our table every night.
For the next 6 weeks I will be sharing my weekly meal plan with you! If you’re interested in seeing what we are having for dinner and getting my weekly meal plans directly in your inbox- sign up below: