Meal planning was not something that came naturally to me. I mean let’s be honest what in heaven’s name is natural about cooking in the kitchen for hours on end, not to mention the amount of dishes you are left with afterwards?! I was a hater for sometime, not even going to lie. I did not like the idea of meal planning, UNTIL….wait for it…
I found a way to make it work! I cooked a week’s worth of meals in 2 hours and now I want to share my method with you!
Whether you are a hater or have been converted into a meal plan lover, this article is meant for anyone and everyone who meal preps or wants to give it a try!
It seems the easiest way to explain how I did this would be to go in chronological order, so first step is the planning portion. What meals are you going to eat? This is obviously the most important step in the meal planning process. My issue that I had with planning is I would get bored with the same food. I have a taste for variety and eating the same meal 5 nights in a row would not fly with me. Then I realized I could plan what I ate and that meal planning doesn’t necessarily mean the same meal every night.
Tip 1: Plan for meals that can be interchangeable. Plan meals that use similar ingredients, but have different flavors. For example, I used ground turkey, black beans, sweet potato and onions and made stuffed peppers for one dinner and took the same concoction added a little organic BBQ sauce and BAM! I had a BBQ lettuce wrap. Two totally different meals, but easy to make since I used similar ingredients. I also made a couple sides to pull for meals if I was looking for something different. I had broccoli and then a salad kit from Dole that was easily split into at least 3 servings. Similar ingredients and easy side dishes helped keep cooking time down to a minimum.
Tip 2: Cut it all up! If you are using any sort of veggie or fruit that needs to be cut. Do that first. I found that it was much easier to start cooking with having all my ingredients ready to go.
Tip 3: Be smart about your kitchen appliances. What are you making that needs to go in the stove? What can you make without using the oven? What will go in the fridge and what will go in the freezer? Where will I find the space to fit all these plastic containers? That last one was a serious struggle, LOL. I went in order and started with breakfast items. One dish was a yogurt parfait in a mason jar ( which took 5 minutes) Second was an egg, black bean and cheese breakfast burritos that I was able to freeze and pull throughout the week. Used stove top and counter space, total time: 20 minutes.
On to lunch and dinner. I made 4 servings of salmon and asparagus in the oven, made cauliflower chicken fried rice on the stove top, put the stove top on low so I could make a turkey wrap for lunch. The way that I used my appliances helped cut down on time. Even though this portion of the process took longer, I ended up with most of the cooking being done for the week.
Tip 4: Get healthy pre-packaged snacks. This one helps cut down time tremendously! Some of my favorite healthy snacks are the individual size bags of skinny pop white cheddar popcorn, unsweetened applesauce, rice cake with Peanut Butter and snap pea crisps (wasabi ranch flavored to be specific). I also have halo top, which is my go to for desserts! It’s a protein based ice cream and the chocolate almond crunch flavor I bought was only 280 calories for the whole pint! Not to mention, it does not have a watery taste, it has the consistency of creamy ice cream! In case you were not already aware, my excessive use of exclamation points translates to me highly recommending this product!!! <– There.. three more for the road…okay I’m done, I promise.
These key points are what made it possible to make a whole week’s worth of meals in 2 hours and if I can do it, ANYONE can do it. Trust me. My last tip would be to stay patient, sometimes things don’t go the way you planned, but the work definitely pays off! Coming home after work and NOT having to think about what I am going to eat or cook is priceless. The extra time allows me to focus on other things like working out, walking my dog and writing blog posts of course! Meal planning has definitely given me a balance that I have been missing out on. I am thrilled to say that I am no longer drinking the hater-ade and have officially been converted into a meal plan lover.
Thank you for reading! In case you wanted to see what meals I had and what each day looked like, I listed them all below!
Day 1 & 3:
Breakfast- yogurt parfait
Lunch-Turkey, spinach and cranberry pinwheels with a side of celery, apples and PB
Dinner-Salmon with orange fig glaze and garlic parmesan asparagus
Day 2 & 4:
Lunch- chicken cauliflower fried rice
Dinner-(day 2)BBQ lettuce wrap (day 4) stuffed peppers
Breakfast-scrambled eggs & turkey bacon
Lunch-left over salad (Dole Kale Lemon Vinagrette)
Dinner-Turkey Polish sausage and vegetable skillet
Sides/snacks: cooked broccoli, Dole Kale Lemon vinagrette salad kit, apple & PB, rice cake & PB, unsweetened apple sauce, skinny pop white cheddar popcorn, natural cheese and beef stick, celery, nuts and wasabi snap pea crisps.
Dessert: Chocolate Almond Crunch Halo Top!
Everything made was doubled for 2 people.
Stay tuned for my next post where I will be sharing some of the recipes I used for this meal prep!
-The Mod Maven