A lot of folks know that my husband and I try to eat as healthy as possible. We only go out to dinner when we have family in town or when we’re on vacation. We even started a small vegetable garden this year. (This is a huge accomplishment since I’m known for my black thumb!) Between my time management knowledge and my desire for a healthy eating plan, I often get asked about how my husband and I do our meal planning.
What do we use for our weekly meal planner?
We don’t have an official planning calendar or workbook or app. We simply sit down and talk and do a weekly meal planner using a scratch sheet of paper. Sometimes this happens while one of us is doing the dishes; sometimes it’s while we’re eating dessert. It always takes place in the kitchen so that we can check our inventory. A weekly meal planner session can seem pretty boring, but we get excited about what goodness will be entering our bellies on the upcoming Saturday.
How often do we do a healthy eating plan and how does it work?
Some people can do 30 days or 14 days at a time, but that doesn’t work for me personally. We only plan for seven days at a time. Grocery day is either on a Thursday or Friday, so usually on Wednesday evening we do our meal planning. We cook something fast on Friday like baked fish. (By the way, our definition of “fast” means that you throw spices on a food item and shove it into the oven…minimal prep work and no standing by the stove to monitor.) On Saturday we do our “big cooking,” which is usually something out of Julia Child’s cookbook or from our “faves stash” or we experiment with a brand new recipe. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are leftovers. Wednesday is baked chicken. Thursday is leftover chicken. If we run out of leftovers earlier, then the baked chicken happens earlier. Our emergency backup if we run out of leftovers and baked chicken is to toss a California Kitchen pizza into the oven. It’s the only frozen pizza we’ve found that is healthy (enough) and doesn’t taste like cardboard. That’s our healthier version of fast food.
Do we ever get tired of healthy meal plans?
We change up the veggies each evening, so that helps prevent “same ol’ same ol’ fatigue.” We don’t do canned veggies (and rarely do frozen), so we’re eating fresh vegetables as they ripen. And sometimes we run out before we make it back to the grocery store. Oh well.
When we get tired of the baked chicken or fish, we’ll do a freezer cleanout night and just have hodge podge. Or we might fix an omelet. That happens about once every other month. Having a different meal every Saturday somehow helps keep things “new.”
This weekly meal planner session is what works for us – the simpler, the better – but that doesn’t mean it’ll work for everyone. The key is to take everyone’s ideas that you hear about and find the system that works for you. And when you get tired of your meal planning system, revisit it to see if you truly want to change things up, or you might find that you just needed a few days’ break and are ready to go back to your system.