Last week I shared with you my four, must have meal planning tools. In case you missed it, check it out here:
Like any good craftsman, I know that the tools are key part of the process. If I didn't have my four must have tools, it would be reallly tricky for me to do this next part of the meal planning process.
Before I go, let me remind you that I'm cooking for one person each week (yours truly) who has no problem eating leftovers for a few days or doesn't mind repetitive meals. I'd recommend getting a handle on that before you go any further as it's really helpful to know.
No point in planning on eating leftovers when you despise them. Know that your job will be a bit more time intensive if that's the case, but totally do-able!
I sit with my pink notebook, one or two cookbooks of choice and my computer. This is where the fun happens and I get excited about the week's meals.
My goal from looking through cookbooks, saved recipes and the google is to find 2-3 new recipes. These are recipes that I've never made before, they catch my eye and I'm excited to make them.
After selecting 2-3 new recipes, I assign them different meals during the week. I assume that I will eat them at least twice during the week and scatter them over the 7 days.
For example, I might have Meal 1 on Monday lunch and Tuesday dinner. Then I'd plan Meal 2 for Tuesday lunch and Wednesday dinner. And finally Meal 3 might be Monday dinner and Wednesday lunch.
Things to consider : I do look at my schedule and plan easier meals to prepare on nights when my coaching calls finish right at dinner time. On days when there's a chance I might meet up with a friend would could then become dinner plans, I wouldn't necessarily plan something on my menu. And I take into the consideration the weather. Nobody wants to eat comfort food when it's warm outside while the birds are chirping!
You may be wondering about meals Thursday - Sunday.
From experience, I know that my meals the end of the week are a bit more go with the flow. As I'm only one person and recipes are generally made for 4 people, the leftovers leave me with options. I tend to get a bit creative with mixing and matching my meal ideas for the end of the week. Yes, I do plan out what they are, but it may look something like this :
Thursday lunch : Johanna salad (more to come on this.)
Thursday dinner : rice and veggies, sauce from Monday.
Friday lunch : Part of Meal + 1 with soup
Friday dinner : Honestly, I rarely plan this and make something up on the spot. (More on this to come.)
Now, how about meals on the weekends? Again, my experience from years of meal planning is that I will plan out one meal / weekend day - I'll have an idea of what to eat and make sure there's food on hand. Inevitably, I'm more out and about on Saturdays so I'll either get something on the road or eat how and when I feel like it. Same thing for Sundays.
I find that by the time the weekend rolls around, while I've got options in my kitchen, it's nice to just go with the flow and loosely follow a plan. I've got more bandwidth to think about food - whereas during the week, I don't want to have to decide what to eat or make. I'm tired and want it to be easy - which is is exactly why the meal plan is so great.
All of this decision making about what meals to eat when, happens in one moment. It usually takes me anywhere from about 15-45 minutes, depending on how much time is lost looking at food blogs! Up until recently, I was a girl who meal planned on Sundays. But lately I've been meal planning later on a Saturday afternoon when I take a pause for the day. Happened randomly and I've been loving having more time on Sundays.
So that's my process. Next week, I'll elaborate more on the step of grocery shopping and how to ensure that's as smooth as possible.
Until then, I'd love to hear how your meal planning process unfolds. Leave a comment below and share how you plan out your week's meals.