Let me start out by saying that I LOVE to meal plan. Like a lot. My late husband never understood it. We’d be sipping coffee on Sunday mornings and I’d ask “How about pork chops for Thursday night?” His response? How do I know if I’ll want pork chops on Thursday, I won’t know until Thursday!
It was then that I created Meal Plan “ideas.” Basically come up with a meal plan, but not have it so set in stone, depending on what was going on during the week. That way, I could come home and say, “Do you feel like Salisbury steak, pasta or shrimp fried rice?” and then let him pick. Of course, by the end of the week, there would only be one choice – Party Pizza Friday. He wasn’t much of a fan of that either!
Meal Planning is different than Meal Prepping. Just go on YouTube and type in “meal prepping” and you’ll find a host of videos for people who bulk cook on the weekend so they have healthy food to grab and go during the week. I have two tiny problems with that:
- A lot of times, it’s the same meal for 4-5 meals that week. Do I really want to eat grilled chicken breasts, brown rice and broccoli 4-5 a week? The answer to that is no thank you!
- I like to cook during the week, so this way I can have a wide variety of foods during the week.
Top 4 Tips on Meal Planning:
- Shop your house first. Show of hands how many times you were at the store and thought “do I have . . .” and throw it in the cart, only to realize you already had pork chops in the freezer you could have used. Start by searching your pantry/fridge/freezer to use items you already have to build on your meal plan for the week.
- Use your store sale flyer. If chicken breasts are not on sale, I am not eating chicken breasts that week. I have Pinterest boards for “Beef”, “Pork”, “Chicken” and “Seafood” so when one of those items is on sale, I can click on the that particular protein board to get recipe ideas for the week.
- Multi-purpose foods throughout the week. If you are having rice for one meal, why not make a big batch and have it throughout the week?
- This is a tough one, but only buy what you are actually going to use that week. Which is why sticking to your shopping list goes hand in hand with your meal plan so that you aren’t throwing extra stuff in your cart because it looks good.
- I’ve started doing this the last few months, and this is a game changer – only bring cash to the store. That way you are not tempted to throw extra stuff into the cart because you only have so much cash to spend.
This week I spent $51.35. $25.08 on 90% of my grocery list at Walmart, and $26.27 at Sam’s Club on skirt steak, pork, mango and sliced apples.
Mind you, although my daughter and her fiancé live with me, we do separate meal plans. Mostly because they don’t like eating stuff with spinach (ha!) but they tend to eat later than me, so this all works out. The $10 skirt steak was actually for our Sunday dinner this past week, so if you take that meal out of my weekly budget, my actual cost is $41.35 for 15 meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner – Monday through Friday) for an average cost of $2.75 per meal.
Here is my meal plan for the week. I work out at night, so my bigger meals tend to be at lunch, with lighter meals for dinner. I sprinkle in fresh fruit and veggies either with my meals or as snacks.
Chobani Fruit Parfait
Chicken Noodle Soup and Ham and Spinach Lavash
Falafel cucumber bites
Breakfast baked potato with steak and spinach
BBQ Pork Sandwich with Red Cabbage Slaw
Sweet Potato Toast
Steak and spinach egg white omelet
Open faced burger with rosemary potatoes
Skirt steak with cilantro lime rice and sautéed zucchini
Mock Starbucks Protein Plate (with homemade blueberry scones)
BBQ Pork Sandwich with Red Cabbage Slaw
Breakfast Fried Rice with Egg and Peppered Bacon
Party Pizza Friday – Enchilada Chicken Pizza!
Here was my grocery list and meal plan, along with the items I wrote down that I “shopped” for in my house before coming up with my meal plan.
The best part is that this doesn’t have to all be done at once. Typically Friday night on my hour train ride home from work, I’ll check out my sale flyer on my phone and jot down some ideas.
Saturday morning, I’ll spend about 10 minutes going through my pantry/fridge/freezer to see what I can use up (and throw out all the take out containers my daughter and her fiancé never use!) and then grocery shop on Sunday morning.
As much as I love new recipes, I will always have at least one yogurt parfait for the week using my Very Berry Sauce using frozen fruit, which you can make up to a week ahead of time and store in the fridge.
No matter what time of year it is, I also love making Lasagna Soup at least once every couple of weeks because it’s so delicious.
With a little planning, I think you will find Meal Planning a great way not only to help you eat a healthier diet by not relying on fast food, but your wallet will thank you as well.
I’d love to hear how much money you spend on groceries in a typical week! And are you a Meal Planner? Feel free to share this post with friends and family.
The Chopping Block offers lots of ideas for quick weeknight meals in our cooking classes. Here are two upcoming classes that feature dishes that will soon be on my meal planning list!
Monday Meals: Spinach Salad with Ginger-Sesame Vinaigrette; Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry
Taco Tuesday: Crispy Cornmeal Fish Tacos