Become a Meal Planner

Meal planning isn't just for the super organized. No matter your shopping or cooking style, I am going to share with you some strategies that will hopefully help to save you some money, limit food waste, and eat well all week long! 

I am gonna break it down for you by meal planning style and give you some tips and tricks no matter how you work it during the week. Choose your meal planning style and then get to work! 

The Weekend Warrior

Is this your style?  
You are a true weekend warrior, and you cook on Sunday for the week ahead. While leftovers aren't a big deal for one or two days, more than that and they can get a it boring. By Friday, you are stuck with odds and ends of recipes that don't really have a home, so they end up getting tossed. 

Plan of Action:

  1. Stagger Meals: Instead of pushing through a double batch every night, stagger a couple of favorite recipes during the week to avoid back-to back repeats. 
  2. Embrace all the yummy "Kitchen Sink" dishes: Stir-fries, frittatas, loaded baked sweet or regular potatoes, whole-grain pasta bakes, and breakfast or dinner salads can revamp left-overs with little effort. 
  3. Know what can be revived: Saucy items (meat loaf, casseroles) hold up well to freezing and reheating. If you prepare at least one meal to freeze, you have something fresh at the end of the week or for the weekend. Dress it up with a fresh salad or some grilled veggies. 
  4. And what can't: Plain cooked pastas and rice can be gummy or gritty, cooked proteins can overcook or dry out when reheated alone (it can be done, just be cautious). It is just better overall to revamp these by adding them to another dish or using in a "Kitchen Sink" recipe. 

The " I Hate Leftovers" 

Is this your style? 
You like to plan ahead but don't want dinner deja vu. Recipes go half eaten, and meals become a strange mashup -- a scoop of chicken curry, some avocado, a cheese stick--not unlike your preschooler's plate. You want something new and fresh, but you don't want to have to cook a new meal every single night.

Plan Of Action: 

  1. Be Honest: You may have the best intentions to cook recipes ahead, but if you know that last night's dinner won't be appealing come mealtime, it will be a waste. 
  2. Prep components, not meals: Cook and store items that can be combined differently during the week, from rock start toppers like caramelized onions and roasted tomatoes, to basics like cooked wheat berries, whole grain brown rice, fresh chopped greens, and a variety of veggies for snacks and dinner. 
  3. Shake up your proteins: Try a little crisped bacon, proscuitto, or cured chorizo instead of a centerpiece protein. Eggs should also be part of your weeknight rotation. 
  4. Shake up your starches: Break up the classic combos (sauce and pasta, stir-fry and rice, steak and potatoes) and try something new: spaghetti squash, cauliflower "rice", or quick-cooking lentils. 

The I'll Wing It (Non) Planner

Is this your style? 
You let your culinary mood inspire dinner daily. Store cashiers know you by name (you pop in for this or that several times a week). Your fridge and pantry are full of forgotten items that you'll need to purge soon to make room for more. 

Plan of Action: 

  1. Play "Use it or Lose it": If you can't think of at least three reasonable uses for an ingredient at the store, put it back on the shelf. 
  2. Shop less: More trips mean impulse buys and wasted food. Challenge yourself to go less, or pick up just one or two ingredients and make a meal with what you have. 
  3. Stock Your Pantry: Keep building-block items such as unsalted canned beans, canned whole tomatoes, and quick cooking whole grains like quinoa and farro on hand as the base for any meal. 
  4. Stock Your Fridge: Fresh ingredients like parsley, lemon, shallots, and parmesan make any dish delicious. Add a pantry staple, a main ingredient, and BAM, dinner is done. 

If you still feel like you need some support in the meal planning department, here are some other resources to set you up for success.


 

Together let's Eat. Drink. and Shrink. our way through 2016!
Remember: life is all about having a body you love and adore, not trying to shrink a body you hate! The more you love your life and enjoy the clean food you are fueling it with, the less you will worry about counting calories and logging hundreds of miles on the treadmill! 

 

What is your meal planning style and Helpful tricks? 

Share with us in the comments below! I can't wait to hear from you!