Planning Out My Meals

Meal planning is key to staying within a budget and preventing food waste. In a Google doc, I keep a list of my fresh, refrigerated and pantry items with their expiration dates so that I know what I have and can plan to use items up before they go bad. This works quite well for me, especially since I am regularly traveling. Once a week I take about 30 min of my time to set up an agenda for the week.

First, I think about what I am in the mood for. This allows me to deal with any strong cravings I may have and for the enjoyment of my meals. Typically, in the winter I tend to crave warm foods, while in the Summer I want a lot of raw and fresh produce. I am currently transitioning to cooking things such as hearty soups, toasted sandwiches and roasted veggie bowls.

Second, I think about how I could use what I have in a recipe that meets what I am in the yearning for. I always try to use what I already own to save money and help use up food before it expires. If a recipe asks for rice, but I have quinoa and farro, I will just sub what I have for the rice.

Third, I make a list of what I do not already have to make my meals for the week. I shop once a week so that my ingredients are as fresh as possible and I try to make sure I do not shop hungry or in a rush to ensure I walk out with ONLY the items on my list.

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Let me give you a for instance. A few weeks ago, I made a soup out of the onion, carrots, celery, potatoes, and squash I already had leftover from the previous week. I bought some fresh kale and lentils to add some extra nutrition. I really wanted a warm, filling soup for supper and I was still craving that. So the following week I planned to make 2 soups. A loaded baked potato soup to finish off the potatoes and a cheddar I had and black bean pumpkin soup to finish off the pumpkin I had in the fridge before it began to mold. I already had canned black beans from Costco. The only ingredients I needed to purchase to make these 2 soups were diced tomatoes and an onion. I have a budget of $40 per week for groceries and the one week I only spent a few dollars!

What about Breakfast? Well I have oat bran already plus ingredients I can mix into it, such as milk, nuts, frozen berries, raisins, apples and for a savory oatmeal I have eggs, natto and tamari. 🙂 I have really fallen in love with savory oatmeal 🙂

I get asked this a lot by my coworkers, “Don’t you get bored with your food?” I do not get bored of my meals as long as they taste amazing, which I have complete control of by making my own food. 🙂 You could also try to prepare two different entires per meal per week if you are concerned with getting bored. That way you may alternate between the two each day.

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Do you meal plan? What are your strategies and priorities?

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2 thoughts on “Planning Out My Meals

    • reasonablyfitlife says:

      Yes! I do like it! Though I would say if one does not like the slimy/stringy texture of okra or the smell/taste of strong cheeses I could see them not liking it. Its a spin on the traditional rice and Natto eaten in Japan. I just use oatmeal instead of rice since that is what I have right now. 🙂

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