What do you think of when I say meal planning? I have found it means different things to different people. For some of us, it is simply planning the meals we are going to cook/eat for the week so that we can make our grocery list. For others, it involves Tupperware and a bunch of assembly all on one day, so limited cooking if any is done later in the week. Maybe it is a combination of the two or an entirely different idea.
Preparing everything on Sunday to eat throughout the week is great if that works for you, but I honestly like to take a more laid back approach to meal planning. I know I wouldn’t be able to do that every Sunday, and feel like I would get burnt out. If preparing everything Sunday, remember that some food will not keep that long. For example, if you want fresh berries, washing them Sunday will mean mold a few days later, if not the next day (Berries should be washed right before you eat them). Also, some foods, like fish, don’t always reheat as well, so you will want to experiment with recipes that taste great reheated.
I plan my meals for the week, grocery shop, and start preparing some things over the weekend (chop veggies, make sauces, etc.), but I plan to cook everyday (unless I’m pulling a meal from my freezer stash). The key is to follow recipes that you can cook in the time you have available. Also, look for multi-functional recipes. For example, a black bean corn salad that can be put in a quesadilla one day, tossed with greens the next, and then served with a whole grain and more veggies, like roasted spiced cauliflower, for a burrito bowl. Try to think in advance for future meals. Pizza on Monday? Make extra marinara sauce and freeze it in portions. Taco Tuesday? Make extra beans and freeze. I think you get the idea. Whenever you can make extra food, it can be helpful for a future dinner or lunch the next day.
Let’s discuss the types of recipes to cook. For some people, it might be easier to have theme days (less thinking). Pizza Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Stir-Fry Wednesdays, Bowl Thursdays. Don’t get so rigid that you never deviate, but it can provide some peace of mind as you plan or need to whip something up in a hurry. Try to learn basic recipes that can be altered into different dishes. Learn the basic skills required to make a stir-fry, roast veggies, saute a fish filet, build a grain based bowl, whisk together a vinaigrette, etc. That way, it is easy to change up recipes and cook on the fly, assuming you have a well stocked pantry and fridge 😉
To YOUR Taste!