7 Tips for Easier Meal Planning!

plannerI'm sad to say that there is no Body Revolution post for today. :( The muscle I hurt in my back a few months ago was bothering me and I did NOT want to go down that road again. Pain + not being able to do anything except lay around was not what I wanted. Instead, I did some walking and gave myself a break. Real life here people. Things will pick back up this week so we will be on track to talk about week 10 next Monday. So, instead of exercise, let's talk about food! If you are a regular reader, you know I'm all about scratch-cooking and making as much stuff yourself as you can. It's definitely a constant process, and I am always evolving in this area, but those slow gradual changes are what make things stick. As you begin to make more and more things yourself, there is one thing you can't deny: eating whole, real food does require more time in the kitchen than popping a frozen entree in the microwave. Now, I don't think that's a bad thing. Why should something as important as the food we eat become another chore or afterthought? Still, I also know that we are all incredibly busy and with so many responsibilities, some things are gonna fall by the wayside. While I can't eliminate your need to cook all together, I do have some tips that I think make things a whole lot easier.

  1. Make a Meal Plan. We're starting at square one here. It surprises me how many people don't have a plan at all. Running by the store on the way home from work fretting about what you're going to cook for dinner or digging through the fridge and pantry hoping a great idea will pop out at you is way too stressful. All of that time running about like a crazy person could be spent preparing a meal that's on your calender with all of the ingredients on hand.
  2. Keep Your Old Meal Plans. I do all of our meal planning in a notebook. That way, if I'm struggling to come up with a dinner idea for Thursday, I can flip back through the last few weeks for inspiration.
  3. Be Flexible. When you're cooking with fresh, local ingredients, you can't always have what you want. I never plan our meals before I've been to the farmers market. Now, if you're going to the market regularly, you will have some idea of the things you're likely to find, but there are no guarantees. Something in abundance last week could be limited this week or a new item might have ripened and be overflowing out of the bins. You have to work with what they got.
  4. Take a Picture. If you're following me on social media, you know that I post a photo each week with everything I get at the farmers market laid out on our kitchen table. This is partially because it's pretty and people seem to like it, but it has the added bonus of making meal planning much easier. I can simply look at the picture and see everything we have to work with. Then I can make my meal plan, keeping everything in mind, and go shopping for any additional items we might need like meats, milk, and spices.
  5. Roast Those Veggies. We have roasted veggies at least one night each week. It doesn't matter what they had at the market because everything can always be roasted. Plus, roasting makes vegetables delicious!
  6. Just Plan Dinner. Breakfast and lunch will work themselves out. Most people eat the same few things for breakfast and lunch and we are no different. Lunch for us is usually leftovers from dinner. Easy.
  7. Have an Optional Meal. Every Friday on our meal plan is the same thing: pizza. It is one meal that I can make with ingredients we always have on hand. The toppings can be flexible depending on what we haven't used during the week and any extra veggies can get used up as a side dish. In the end, we don't end up having pizza every week due to the random things that happen. If we find ourselves eating leftovers for dinner one night because something came up and I didn't have time to cook or we have an unplanned dinner with friends or our parents, the pizza meal can fall off the calendar and there are no worries about ingredients going bad.

Do you have any meal planning tips? Share them in the comments below!