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
Favorites: Homemade Chicken Fingers, Veggie Taco Quinoa Skillet with Guacamole
Favorites: Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup, Simple 3 Bean Chili
Favorites: Moroccan Chicken Salad, Honey Garlic Chicken Salad with Roasted Corn
Something Indulgent (I include bread and pasta here as we try to limit those)
Favorites: Barbecue Chicken French Bread Pizza, Four Meat Sauce
One New Recipe
These are currently on my must-try list: Friday Night Pasta, Slow Cooker Chicken Burritos
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!