HOW I PLAN My Weekly Meals
Following up on the vlog I recently posted about grocery shopping for the meals I planned for the week, I wanted to share my process prior to the shopping part. It’s honestly nothing groundbreaking, but since you guys asked, here we are. Much like most households, we have our staples and meals on rotation. While I have made countless dishes over the years, some of them end up being a one & done (unintentionally) because they were either too much work, not THAT great, or I just forget. Sue me, but I have a lot on my brain at all times so remembering bomb meals I’ve made over the years is just not a top priority.
Something that has helped with this onset forgetfulness, though, is creating a working list of meals I’ve made that everyone has enjoyed. It lives on my computer so I can just update it as we go and I can also view it on my phone for easy access. Lists are my thing, and I’m sure you’ve already guessed it, but yes I have a working Notes tab on my phone open at all times with the weekly meals I have planned. As well as a Notes tab for my shopping list for the meals for obvious reasons.
To keep things interesting I try to do a good mixture of dishes – protein as the main (fish, turkey, chicken, veggies), with some type of carb (rice, pasta, quinoa), and then veggies. Paul is pretty strict about eating balanced meals so at this point it comes naturally to me to make these types of meals.
For inspiration, I like to find dishes on Pinterest, Instagram, or TikTok that I then modify for our taste and style. I do this frequently after dining at restaurants, too. If I really enjoy something out I will try to recreate it in a simple way at home. If it’s not simple I’m not making it. Occasionally when I have down time I’ll crack open some cookbooks I like to try something new (here are the cookbooks I like most). Not gonna lie, this is often when a recipe becomes a one & done for us, but I still like to throw them in once in a while. Lastly, sometimes I’ll plan a meal based on yummy fresh ingredients I pick up at the farmer’s market.
Here are the 3 simple steps I follow:
Review my upcoming week’s calendar. On days I don’t have an evening or late afternoon obligation (aka I will be home by 5PM), I plan to cook. If I have a long ass day like a photoshoot or late appointment (aka I’ll be exhausted / rushed) I plan to order out. And of course, on nights that I’m going out for dinner, that one is easy peasy.
Once I know the number of days I’ll be cooking (typically around 4-5 per week) I talk to the family and we decide which meals we are all in the mood for. Capri will exclusively ask for veggie bowls, Paul is pretty useless as well, as he says “I love everything you make,” and Walker will always opt for “noodles.” So yeah, hopefully your family is a bit more opinionated and helpful than mine in this department. From here I will start scanning my list of meals and throw out suggestions for everyone to vote on.
Upon deciding on the meals, I curate my grocery list based on the ingredients we are missing at home. I always have to buy the produce and meat / fish fresh, so I dictate the order of which meal goes first based on the freshness needed for each meal. To be more specific, fish always comes first, then meat, then veggie-based meals. For the most part, I just write this down on a piece of paper or in a Notes tab on my phone. HOWEVER, a great tip for anyone who loves to utilize technology more, I’ve started using my Alexa’s shopping list widget to help as well. I use this mostly for real-time ingredients we run out of since I don’t always write it down and then forget. You can access this list on your phone as well so I always reference this at the store to see if we need things like ketchup, soy sauce, seasonings, etc.
As you can see, this isn’t anything revolutionary, but organization and focus are key here. I’ve had hectic weeks where I don’t plan meals and then I feel like I end up spending way more $$$ on ordering takeout, which to be honest, no one eats as well as when I cook. Also just feels wasteful. Planning my meals triggers something mentally, much like making your bed in the morning, that makes me feel like I have my shit together. It also really helps the flow of the evening since doing absolutely anything with kids is automatically 347389794723x more chaotic.
Alright, good luck & happy planning!