One of the things that I’m most proud of as an adult, is my ability to plan and cook great, homemade meals every week. Not only do I plan for dinners, but I try to make sure that Anel and I both have a home-cooked lunch at least three days per week (his coworkers get pretty jealous). This is both cost effective and a healthier option, as it’s easy to stock up on extra junky food when buying lunch on the fly.
My yet-to-be-patented meal-planning system seems complicated, but once you break it down, it’s really not! It takes dedication and a bit of time, but in the long run, you’ll be so happy eating healthier meals and spending less on food, I promise. I used this same system when I was working a full time job and blogging, and the only difference in my plan is that now I make recipes that are a bit more complex.
I use a three-step method for the least amount of stress during a week. It includes: Planning, shopping, and prepping. Let me explain…
On Sundays, I’ll go through some recipes that I’ve bookmarked throughout the week and decide what I’m going to make for dinners the following week. I write out the ingredients for each dinner and am sure to make at least four servings so we can have leftovers for lunch the following day. I’ll go over the list with Anel to make sure he’s down with what’s on the docket.
Based on the plan we come up with for meals, I’ll create a shopping list. I hate all the fancy shopping apps, so I always do it in the Notes app on my iPhone. I divide the list into produce, meat, frozen, and other, so that I can easily navigate my list while navigating the store. Usually I do this shopping on Sunday afternoon/evening, but if we’re traveling over the weekend, which is fairly often, I push it to Monday
I try to always prepare the following dishes/sides on Sunday nights to have options for the week to come. Having these in tupperware (Always glass, we’re a BPA-free house! I love this set.) when I go to start making dinner, makes everything so much easier and less stressful.
Because I work from home, this also helps me take speedier lunch breaks, if I’m not going out with a friend or for a meeting. The entire process of prepping everything below takes about an hour, which might seem annoying that night, but I promise it pays off every time. Pop a bottle of wine, play your favorite tunes, and make it a thing. Do it with a roommate or partner to make it go by faster!
I try to always make 4 cups (cooked) of brown rice for stir-fries throughout the week. I always use it all, even if not for meals. A great snack is to heat it up with a little bit of butter and cinnamon!
I like to add quinoa to salads, soups, and stir-fried with veggies as a side. Having this pre-made makes it a breeze.
This is more of a fall addition, but ’tis the season so I’ll include it in my list. I’ll cut up a yellow onion, sweet potatoes, squash, shallots, carrots, and garlic and roast them with salt, pepper, and olive oil. It’s so simple and a great addition to any salad or as a side.
Roasted chicken breast:
I will roast one or two chicken breasts and then slice them up to put on salads towards the beginning of the week. Sometimes I’ll heat them up with some of the roasted veggies for a dinner on Tuesday or Wednesday if I have a particularly busy day.
Slow cooker chili:
Ok so it doesn’t have to be chili, but on Sundays, during the colder months, I try to always cook a soup or stew in the crock pot. I love my turkey chili, but have been playing around with some new recipes lately too. I made a white bean/kale/quinoa soup last week that was to die for. I’ll share that recipe soon! I cook enough for dinner on Sunday as well as leftovers for both of us for lunch the next day. That way, even if I don’t get to any of the other items on my list, Monday lunch is taken care of.
In addition to prepping dinners/lunches, I like to get ahead of the breakfast game, mostly for Anel. He leaves the house at 6am for work so easy breakfasts on-the-go are a must. I make 6 hardboiled eggs for his breakfast for the next three days (if you make them too far in advance, they get kind of gross). I pre-boil the eggs and pack them up so he’s set through Wednesday. I then do this again on Wednesday nights for Thursday-Friday.
I also make us each a smoothie for Monday morning which we both usually end up drinking for a mid-morning snack. Because Mondays can be hectic, I like to have this pre-made so I don’t have to think about anything. I’m always so grateful when I find it in my fridge at around 10:30am.