I’m really into meal planning each week. It’s strangely satisfying for me to put together a balanced week of meals that include healthy and indulgent dishes, new recipes I want to try, and old standbys. I find that meal planning eliminates wasted food and keeps our food spending in check in addition to helping us eating better. This year I really want to start scoping out what’s on sale and then planning my meals around those things; I imagine it could be an extra cost saver as well.
Because I look for meal planning inspiration on the regular, I thought this year I would start to share my weekly meal plans with you. Here’s what I consider when planning:
What do we have going on this week?
Tom usually does wings on Tuesday nights and my in-laws host us for supper almost every Sunday. Because of this, I often choose a meal I like that Tom would never eat on Tuesday nights and I never plan a meal on Sunday. In addition to those regular things, do we have any other plans to work around? If I have evening coffee plans with a friend, I’m not going to schedule a labor intensive meal that night; I save those for a night with nothing else going on.
Do we have anything we need to use up?
I check the fridge, freezer and pantry here. If we have anything that may expire soon I plan a meal to use it up quickly.
What else do I need to add to the grocery list?
I pack all of our lunches for work the majority of the time so I tend to choose recipes that will make at least four portions. I freeze leftover portions to have on hand in a pinch so lunches are usually covered along with suppers. I also like to have salad greens and some sort of meat on hand so I can throw together a quick salad if we don’t have leftovers from the night before.
Once I’ve decided on the meals I want to make that week I check what we already have to make them and add what we don’t have to my shopping list. Do we need anything for breakfast? What about snacks? Do I have to bake a birthday cake for anyone? I check what we need for those and add them to my grocery list too.
What season is it?
Clearly I don’t ask myself this every week but I plan way more grilled meals and salads in the warmer months. I barely ever turn on the oven. In the cooler months I plan at least one soup and one slow cooker meal weekly.
Once I sort all of that out, I find this formula helpful:
One Tried and True Recipe
Something Indulgent (I include bread and pasta here as we try to limit those)
One New Recipe
One Meal Out
We usually just decide what we are feeling like that day but sometimes we plan to go to a specific place
Here is this week’s meal plan. It’s a non-typical week as we have a dinner guest on Tuesday instead of Tom going for wings:
Monday – Smoky Ham & Chickpea Stew
This was a new recipe I threw together to use up some leftover spiral ham. It turned out great and will definitely be made again.
Tuesday- Roasted Vegetable Bowls with Hummus
Tom’s cousin came over for supper this night. He is avoiding meat so I planned this meal but swapped out the parmesan for feta and added a dollop of hummus for protein. Tom traded hummus for chicken with his, because he doesn’t think a meal is a meal without meat.
Wednesday- Supper Out
Thursday- Taco Stuffed Peppers
I saw this recipe in my Facebook feed and I’ve been dying to try it ever since.
Friday- Green Smoothies
Tom and I have a three hour meditation class this night and I thought a light supper beforehand would be best.
Saturday- Cheeseburger Quesadillas
This falls in the “indulgent” camp for sure.
Do you meal plan? I’d love to hear your tips!