Adventures in Meal Planning

At the beginning of the month Solomon and I decided to give meal planning a serious try.  We always attempted to meal plan, but it never worked out for us.  With Solomon starting CrossFit and me doing Insanity and wanting to be as healthy as possible as we talk about a sibling for Aaron, it was time to get serous.  Solomon and I felt like we were eating out too often, eating the same boring foods, and letting too much go to waste.

Well, I’m proud to report it’s going really well.  We both feel healthier, we’ve tried some great new things, and we are totally jaded by eating out right now.  We’ve even decided to get Aaron a toy kitchen to put in our kitchen so he can pretend to cook since he loves to help out.  So here’s what I’ve learned this past month, a “Meal Plans 101” if you will.

Be Flexible.  Just because we make a plan, doesn’t mean it is set in stone.  Things come up, and things change.  We’ve shifted meals around for time problems and other reasons a few times already.  No big deal!

Try at least one new thing a week.  Or if you aren’t adventurous, try something new every month, even if it’s as simple as a new tomato sauce.  You’ll be surprised what you can learn to love.

Get creative.  Sometimes I’m not quite as on top of my grocery list as I should be.  Like the other day when I ran out of Italian seasoning.  Instead of dashing to the store, I did a quick online search and made my own.  I’m never buying the jarred stuff again.  I also make my own taco seasoning, fajita seasoning and vegan chicken bouillon.  Call me crazy.

Don’t plan lunch.  I find lunch is most likely to change.  Sometimes Solomon will have a lunch meeting, or I’ll meet a friend last minute.  By not including lunch in our meal plan, we can choose to eat leftovers, or throw something together.  It’s never as stressful as not having dinner planned.

Cook big meals early in the week. If you know you are going to have lots of leftovers, cook your meal earlier in the week so that you can eat the leftovers without having to worry about wasting any of it!

Freeze individual portions. If your leftovers are too much to eat that week, invest in some smaller containers and freeze smaller portions.  These can be grabbed from the freezer the night before and thawed in the fridge for lunch or dinner.  Just be aware of what is in your freezer so things don’t go to waste.

Any other tips or tricks to add to my “Meal Plans 101” list?

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3 Responses

  1. One the we do is make sure everything is washed and prepped for weekly meals. Chicken defrosted, veggies chopped, cheese grated. It’s all done during the weekend.

  2. If you keep a pretty stocked pantry, like I do, check expiration dates and plan meals so you can use up your older items to make room for new finds!

  3. I agree in the try a new thing each week. With a 4 year old in the house – I don’t want him to get stuck in eating habits. I make sure when planning my meals for the week, we have a new recipe included! You can check out this weeks meal plan for the week on my blog if you are looking for some new ideas 🙂 http://frugalfitmom.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/meal-plan-week-of-129/

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