I’m going to be honest: my least favorite task as wife/mom/adult is meal planning. I love cooking and I don’t mind grocery shopping and I love looking at recipes, but there’s something about having to sit down and actually put it all together before I go to the store that just feels like such a drag.
BUT! I’ve found that planning out my meals is one of the biggest keys to my success in losing weight. When it comes down to dinner time, if I have to decide what to make at 5 pm, I’m ordering pizza. Justin’s grabbing something on the way home. The truth is, cooking doesn’t sound fun if I have to figure it out under pressure. So having all my ingredients and a list of delicious, healthy recipes ready to go makes my life so much easier!
Here’s how I roll:
Pinterest is one of my favorite ways to find and organize new recipes.
There are several bloggers I follow on Pinterest, and I’ll even search for recipes from cookbook that I know I’ll love so I can pin them to my boards. Having everything spread in front of me in one place just makes my life easier. Those pretty photos just make me want to cook, know what I mean?
The ability to organize my recipes by category also makes my life so much easier. I keep separate boards for slow-cooker recipes, “healthy” recipes, insulin resistance, and I have one board full food that just looks GOOD. When I meal plan, I mix things in from all of them, because, let’s face it: I do not eat “healthy” food every single day. I think that’s crazy.
Once I choose some recipes for the next couple of weeks, I add them to Pepperplate.
Pepperplate is a great app for storing recipes, scaling them to the size that’s right for your family, creating shopping lists, and planning your meals. I love that a lot of food bloggers are linked up with Pepperplate, so adding recipes is as easy as clicking a button.
I’m kind of a loosey-goosey meal planner. I shop for two weeks at a time–it’s just what works best for me–but I only plan about 8 meals. Yes, that leaves 6 days with no dinner planned! Here’s what I’ve learned about myself:
- We usually go out to dinner once a week.
- One day a week, I go on cooking strike, and we either throw in a frozen pizza or order one.
- Once a week, something comes up that makes the idea of cooking dinner kind of crazy: errands ran late, kids need to run, I’ve got a migraine, we have too many leftovers and we might as well eat them…whatever. We all fend for ourselves and everyone is happy.
So that covers the other 6 days. Eight meals seems to take care of us.
Note: I refuse to keep myself to this calendar. I will make these dinners, but don’t even try to hold me to X meal on X day. If that works for you, great! I’m just a huge brat. 🙂
Pepperplate is awesome, because once the recipes have been added, you can add the ingredients for them to your shopping list. It allows you to scale the recipe first, and then uncheck any items you already have in your pantry or refrigerator. It’s pretty slick.
Once you’ve added all your recipes to your shopping list, your list looks like this:
So that’s my shopping list! Then, all I have to do is make sure I’m stocked up on things for breakfast and the kids’ lunches. The kids are easy: Cereal. PB & J. Repeat. J and I usually eat leftovers for lunch, though I’ll have the occasional wrap or eggs on toast. Leftovers keep me from getting bored, though, and that way I know what I’m eating already fits within the parameters of how I’m trying to eat. I don’t have to think about it too much.
I have kind of a running list of snack foods and ingredients for things I can whip up quickly that will keep me on track. When I run out of one of these, I just make sure it’s been added to my shopping list.
- Chicken sausage (large brat-type links and breakfast-style)
- Whole grain tortillas
- Whole grain English muffins
- Greek yogurt
- Steel-cut oats
- White chia seed
- Laughing Cow cheese spread
- Babybel mini cheese
- Sliced cheddar
- Canadian bacon (low-sodium is better)
- Kavli and Ryvita crackers
- Berries, apples, & seasonal fruit
- Veggies for roasting
- Spinach or other greens
- All Bran & other low-sugar cereal for mixing
- Almond milk
- Quest Bars (my secret weapon for snacking)
With all those things in the house, I can have breakfast burritos, knock-off Egg McMuffins, oatmeal with fruit, cereal, tuna salad, green salads, wraps (usually with meat left over from dinner and those leftover veggies), crackers and cheese, yogurt & bran, and the list goes on. These are my staples, and I can’t live without any of them!
Once I have my little list, I can go to the store and pound out shopping pretty quickly. Then it’s all a matter of finding room for all that food. Ha! But it’s great to be able to go to my fridge or pantry and know that it’s stocked with things that’ll keep me healthy and on-track, and to have all those ingredients for my dinners ready to go.
That’s my system! What do you all do to plan healthy meals?