Advice Featured Food Lifestyle Sarah

Meal Planning for Real People

October 12, 2015

Ok kiddos. Here’s the thing: I love food. I love food so very much. And while I love going out to eat or nomming down on some takeout, I don’t want to be doing those things just because there’s nothing to eat at home. This is partly because I’d rather spend the money on clothes, and partly because once I do, it’s important to me that those clothes continue to fit.

So I cook most of my meals. That could totally suck if it weren’t for the miracle that is advanced planning. I’ve come up with a formula for how I plan and cook my meals that both saves me from starving when I’m lazy and also allows for some spontaneity. So here it is. You’re fucking welcome.

Every week, I plan a meal in each of the following categories. The more overlapping and in-season ingredients, the better for your budget.

one easy breakfast (avocado toast, smoothies, eggs, etc.)
one make-ahead breakfast (baked oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, etc.)
one make ahead snack (roasted nuts, homemade granola bars)
two kinds of fruit (as snacks and meal accessories)
one pasta dish with veggies
one meat dish with veggies
one sandwich (for lunches)
one soup or salad
one application for leftover sandwich fixins and soup/salad leftovers (pasta, fried rice, quiche, pizza, ravioli, etc.)

I know. It sounds both super simple and like SO much food. But trust me, it works. I like to make the meat dish as soon as I get my groceries so that the meat doesn’t go bad before I can use it. I usually make this, the make-ahead breakfast, and my snack at the same time while catching up on terrible garbage TV. The make-ahead breakfast is great for those mornings where I just have no time to spare (which is frequent because I’m a chronic procrastinator). This is why I always pack my lunch (sandwich, snack, and a piece of fruit) the night before. That way, I can grab it on my way out the door between prayers for all green lights.

The soup or salad (depending on the season) is a great dinner option when I’m in the mood for something light. It’s also great for lunches when you’re sick of eating the same fucking sandwich everyday. I like to make the pasta dish toward the end of the week, when my supplies are dwindling, since its ingredients tend to have a longer shelf life. Then, when my cold cuts are no longer appealing, and my fridge turns into a barren wasteland, I get creative with my leftover meat, tofu, and veggies. This holds me over until I get to the store again, and frees up space for the next week’s groceries with minimal waste.

To give you an example, here’s what I’m eating this week:

Easy breakfast: avocado toast with sriracha and a side of turkey bacon
Make ahead breakfast: chocolate almond butter oatmeal (modified from original recipe)
Make ahead snack: roasted maple cinnamon almonds
Fruits: bananas and apples
Pasta dish: baked broccoli macaroni and cheese with turkey bacon
Meat dish: cheeseburger meatloaf with broccoli
Sandwich: turkey, hummus, and avocado roll ups (I added a wrap because I don’t hate myself)
Salad: baked chicken with spinach, avocado, turkey bacon, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper
Leftover application: quiche (don’t get excited, I use frozen pie crust) with leftover turkey bacon, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, turkey, whatever I left.)

And that’s it. I just made the meatloaf, chicken, turkey bacon, and almonds in about an hour, and I’ll make the rest as the week progresses. I hope this helps you see that planning your meals isn’t just for bitches on Pinterest. It’s also for cheapskates without a lot of time on their hands.

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