Meal Planning – Not for the Faint of Heart

Probably my least favorite part of being the Top Chef in the house is meal planning. I understand all of the reasons why I should make a plan (see below), but it’s just so difficult for me to wrap my head around planning 21 meals plus snacks for the week.

I have a wonderful app, Meal Scheduler, on my iPad. I can’t remember if it was free or $1.99, but it’s totally with it. It’s not fancy, but it’s easy to use and I can keep a list of what I’m making and star favorite recipes to make again. It also exports to iBooks, email, Kindle, or the printer very easily. I used to reinvent my meal plan format every week in Excel. I was just never happy with the way it turned out. This app shows as a calendar view on my device, and a list when printed.

I’ve used www.emeals.com service in the past, in fact I have a current annual subscription. They’re a great service and if you watch sites like Groupon or Living Social, you can sometimes get deals for up to 50% off the subscription fee. They have a ton of options, including paleo and “clean eating” and you can scale it for 1-2 people or a family (4-6 people). It costs extra for breakfast and lunch plans and, last I checked, they did not have paleo or clean eating specific plans other than for dinner. They’re worth checking out and I plan to download the provided paleo plan each week. If nothing else, it will help with some ideas.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” If you want the biggest reason why you should make a weekly meal plan, that’s it right there. If you don’t make a plan each week, you can almost count on at least one day, probably more, where you will not stick to the way you want to eat.

Not having a plan was one of the biggest sabotages to our attempts to eat healthy in the past. I’d come home from working all day, I’d be tired, hungry, and all the meat would be in the freezer because I forgot to take anything out the day before. Disgusted with myself, but too tired to come up with anything else, we’d end up running through a drive-thru or making Ramen topped with margarine and Kraft Parmesan cheese. Once in awhile I’d make scrambled eggs.

I know that with eating paleo, any week that I fail to make a meal plan is a week we will not eat very healthfully. I also know that just because my meal plan says that we’re having roast chicken on Thursday doesn’t mean we will necessarily have roast chicken on Thursday if it’s just too late to cook the bird after I finally get home. But, by having a plan (and shopping by that plan) I know I can switch another dinner for the roast chicken and cook that bird on a night when I have more time and/or energy.

I try to make my meal plans on Friday or on Saturday morning, so I can have my shopping list all ready to go to the store on Saturday. I try to go grocery shopping alone. That way I enjoy it. I take a long time, read labels, and study prices and don’t feel rushed. My husband has nearly accepted the fact that the weekly shopping trip takes about two hours.

We try to hit the Saturday Market in our town at least every other weekend to buy local, in season produce. Otherwise, we go to the health food store to get things like coconut flours, coconut aminos, spices in bulk, etc. but the majority of the shopping is done at the regular grocery store. We budget $140 per week and that sometimes gets a little tight, but because I have a plan, we’re not throwing out nearly as much produce as we used to.

All in all, I’m happy to have my meal plan each week. Just in case you were wondering, here’s my plan for June 15-21:

SUNDAY

Breakfast – Rainbow Frittata
Lunch – @ Mom & Dad’s for Father’s Day
Dinner – Rockfish, Roasted Asparagus

MONDAY

Breakfast – Leftover Rainbow Frittata
Lunch – Turkey Wraps, Watermelon, Mixed Greens
Snack – Ants on a Log w/ Almond Butter
Dinner – Savory Baked Chicken, Sweet Potato Fries, Zucchini Noodles

TUESDAY

Breakfast – Steamed Broccoli, Scrambled Eggs
Lunch – Leftover Chicken, Sweet Potato Fries, Zucchini Noodles
Snack – Nut, Seed, & Raisin Muffins
Dinner – Lamb Chops, Broccoli Soup

WEDNESDAY

Breakfast – Broccoli Soup, Bacon
Lunch – Turkey Wraps, Watermelon, Mixed Greens
Snack – Ants on a Log
Dinner – Chuck Roast, Roasted Beets, Steamed Yellow Squash

THURSDAY

Breakfast – Crab Cakes, Bell Peppers
Lunch – Chuck Roast, Roasted Beets
Snack – Nut, Seed, & Raisin Muffins
Dinner – Salmon with Romaine, Apple, & Hazelnut Salad

FRIDAY

Breakfast – Scrambled Eggs, Steamed Broccoli
Lunch – Turkey Wraps, Grapes, Mixed Greens
Snack – Ants on a Log
Dinner – Pork Shoulder, Roasted Butternut Squash

SATURDAY

Breakfast – Plantain Fritters, Bacon, Mixed Greens
Lunch – Leftover Pork Shoulder, Roasted Butternut Squash
Snack – Nut Seed & Raisin Muffin
Dinner – Tilapia, Roasted Veggies, Oranges

Thats a week’s worth of meals and snacks. Nothing fancy but, typing this out, I realize I may have been a little repetitive on the broccoli. That’s okay, we like broccoli around here.

Picture is my shopping cart from this weeks grocery run (I apologize for the lack of focus. Silly me was trying to snap the picture and drive the cart at the same time):
20140614-220213-79333638.jpg

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