Meal Planning 101

Meal planning is one of those things that I associate with people who are extremely organized and have extra time on their hands. I would assume it’s one of those “habits of highly effective people” along with waking up early and exercising regularly (both of which I do not do well). As much as I dread the “what do you want for dinner” discussion that usually occurs on our ride home from work, I can never bring myself to spend the 10 minutes on the weekend to sit down and plan out our week.

  • Excuse #1: How do I know that on Thursday, I’ll want pasta? Maybe I won’t feel like pasta and I’ll want a salad even though it says pasta on the plan?
  • Excuse #2: Our fridge is super tiny, and I’m lucky if kale stays crisp for more than 2 days.
  • Excuse#3: I probably won’t stick to this for more than one week, so why try. (I use this one A LOT)

We’ve successfully executed two weeks of planned meals, and I have to say I enjoy it. We definitely (DEFINITELY) save money, and we waste way less food which is my favorite part. We’re able to buy produce at the farmers market more effectively since we know for sure that we’re going to use the entire bulb of fennel or bunch of easter radishes instead of just buying them because they’re cute.
I’ve only done that a few times.Bulk Rainbow Peppers at the Capitol Hill Farmers Market in SeattleBulk Rainbow Peppers at the Capitol Hill Farmers Market in Seattle

When we take time to plan our meals, we also tend to eat healthier than we would otherwise. You feel a lot worse as a person when you PLAN to eat packaged ramen than when it’s a last resort choice on a busy night. Personally, I love writing down 5 days of kale because A. it looks better on a meal plan and B. it forces me to think of creative ways to prepare it.
This week, Brian and I decided to do a bit of a “cleanse” and go dairy-free, meat-free, gluten-lite, and no alcohol. I know there are far more strict cleanses out there, but this is mostly a diet adjustment since we’ve both noticed that our bodies and attitudes are a bit sluggish lately. I’m going to be conscious of my sugar and fat intake as well, and I’ll opt for agave and natural fats when they’re available. I’ve eliminated dairy and meat from my diet in the past and noticed a definite improvement in my body, so I’m looking forward to taking a break from both.

I don’t know how long we’ll stick to this, but I’d rather keep it open-ended so I can keep it up as long or short as I want. I don’t do well with deadlines, and I’m prone to jumping off the deep end as soon as time is up, and ruining everything I just worked at. A good example is my wedding ‘diet’ that I stuck to for about 2 months before the wedding. I lost a little bit of weight, leaned up, and noticed a positive effect on my body just by eliminating less healthy foods. After the wedding, everyone at work took me out for a giant burger and fries to celebrate the diet being over, and it pretty much went downhill from there. I’d say two months of eating whatever I want (and as many donuts as humanly possible) is plenty, and time to get back on track.

Dairy-free Meat-free Gluten-free Meal Plan

We picked up fresh produce at the farmers market this weekend, so my shopping list is fairly small for the leftover items. We generally stop at the store each night to pick up a few items rather than do a big trip once a week, so my shopping list is broken into days. I’ll probably get most of these ingredients at the Pike Place Market since their herbs and fish are as fresh as it gets and just a few blocks from work. Seattle Farmers Market Trip by Bike

I don’t typically use recipes, so I don’t bother writing down anything more than just ingredients. Occasionally, a meal will turn out really well and I’ll write it down for the future, but I usually just wing it a little differently each time. If you feel so inclined to try this plan and want more instructions for the meals, I can write up some quick steps that I use. I usually whip up a quick dressing for salads that always end up being some combo of olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and lemon.

I’m going to be proactive for next week’s plan and start perusing some of my favorite sites for cozy fall recipes and ideas. I think my next post will be some of our standard recipes that are in rotation most often. Healthy AND easy 😉












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