Meal planning. I recently talked about how I was going to start this weekly ritual, in which I’d plan a week’s worth of lunches and dinners ahead of time to keep grocery shopping fast, easy and cost-effective. Like I said, this wasn’t an attempt to make fancy dinners and use my Sur La Table goodies. Some meals would be more involved and some would be frozen pizza.
Now that I’m five weeks in, I thought it was worth sharing my take on the process, the things I’ve learned and my favorite meals.
Meal planning is a game-changer. It keeps me organized, saves me money and makes grocery shopping so much less stressful. I love walking through the grocery aisles, and gliding along saying, “I got this, I need this, I don’t need this.” It just makes it so much more efficient. And it puts me at ease to know I have everything I need to make my food. No annoying last-minute trips to the store for cilantro of all things.
And since we eat at home a lot and I get bored easily, I also love how it forces me to try new recipes. Prior to meal planning, I’d Pin so many ideas to my recipe board but never glance at them again. Now that Pinterest is my main source for meal planning, I’ve crossed so many of those recipe Pins off my list. Makes room for more!
Last week I didn’t meal plan. I had a really rough work week and couldn’t find the time to plan let alone shop for groceries. That’s kind of a stupid notion because it takes only 10-15 minutes to plan and about 30 to shop. Well, I certainly noticed a difference, like a “toast and scrambled eggs more days than I’d like to admit” kind of difference. Don’t get me wrong, I love eating breakfast for dinner every once in a while, but having so many meals without vegetables or, ya know, protein and fiber, left me sluggish. And when I wasn’t eating cereal, I was eating out. It was fun and cheered me up when work was busy, but it was also costly. I wish I had at least gotten a frozen pizza.
Here’s what I learned:
– If you work from home, lunch needs to be really simple (like this recipe for charred tomatoes and fried eggs on garlic toast, pictured above) or made in advance (like this quinoa with black beans and grilled corn). When I all of a sudden get hungry at 2pm, I really can’t be bothered to wait for quinoa to cook.
– Leave 2-3 meals blank for eating out; I knew this before and implemented it, but I want to reiterate that this is vital to not wasting groceries!
– Don’t underestimate leftovers. I usually made entire recipes and that left us with a lot of leftovers, which either got pushed to the back of the fridge or postponed other meals, which meant waste. So either cut down the recipes to your proportion or account for leftovers.
And here are my favorite meals so far:
– Charred tomatoes and fried eggs on garlic toast (mentioned and pictured above)
– Paneer tikka pizza (I paired the toppings with a thin crust that requires no rise time)
– Pesto orecchiette with chicken sausage (I used Morningstar’s veggie sausage links)
– Thai chickpea curry
If you’re looking for more meal ideas (or dessert recipes because I love me some sweets), check out my Pinterest board for food.