How I Prep for the Week, Part I: Meal Planning

Can we talk for a minute about weekdays?

The days we fill in between weekends. The ones that come with so much responsibility like jobs and bills and eating healthy and...blech.

I don't know about you but I hate having anything on my docket during the week aside from just getting to and from work in relative uneventfulness. Don't get me wrong, I'm not just filling the time, but let's face it. Working 9 hours a day is hard enough. Then add in a 45 minute commute to and from work. I'm sure many of you have longer rides than that. And the bottom line? When I get home at night, I don't really want to do anything besides sit on the couch with Shaun, share stories about our day, watch Jeopardy, maybe have a glass of wine and then go to sleep at a reasonable hour. 

Is that too much to hope for?

I know, I know. It's like I'm 80. 

But for reals, the thought of cooking anything is like...not so much.

And don't even get me started on the morning hours. I'm lucky if I can get out the door with a cute outfit on and possibly some mascara, let alone leaving the time to actually make breakfast.

Oh yeah, and lunch? I could easily spend $10 a day on lunch here in New York. So I attempt to bring lunch 4 out of 5 days.

 

So what does all the ranting add up to?

It means that the weekends, specifically Sundays, have become my prep day for the week ahead.

I realized that this is going to be a long one, so I've broken it into a couple of posts.

For starters, make a meal plan.

This is the #1 thing that makes the week so.much.easier. On Saturday or Sunday morning I sit with my notepad and cookbooks and decide what we're going to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner all week long.

It seems daunting, but once I got the hang of it, it has really saved me countless time in the kitchen and lots of dollars in the bank. I no longer wander through the grocery store picking up random ingredients and figuring that I'll decide what to do with them later.

No more fruits and vegetables rotting in the refrigerator drawer because I bought them with no real purpose. Instead, I go to the store with my list in hand and stick to it. Of course, I have staples that I buy every week (like apples, bananas, broccoli, salad, milk, eggs, peanut butter), but in general, I've found that the list = buying less overall. And that means less money and less time spent at the store. A win all around!

To give you an example, here is my meal plan list for this week.

Sunday: BBQ chicken tortilla pizzas & sweet potato wedges

Monday: chicken salad pitas & roasted broccoli

Tuesday: Thai beef cabbage wraps

Wednesday: leftovers (Shaun has basketball, so we will grab whatever's around)

Thursday: homemade pizza

Friday: out

Saturday: out

Lunches: big salads

Breakfasts: burritos for Shaun, frittata for me

So using this, I make my shopping list.

Oh and I should also mention that I choose recipes for the week based on what we're in the mood for, trying at least one new dish, and using some of what we already have. For example, this week we had sweet potatoes, tortillas, BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese and pizza dough already in the fridge. I also take into account when either of us will be out for an evening (like Shaun's basketball night or if I go out for girls night), and plan accordingly. 

I also realized that I could purchase one value pack of chicken (5 pieces) breasts, cook them all, and use them in a few meals! Talk about a time and money saver! But more on that tomorrow!

Simply having it all planned out in advance saves me so much time during the week! We no longer drag our feet at 7pm over what to make for dinner. Instead, it's all planned out and ready to be made as soon as I get home. And if Shaun is home before me, he can get a head start on dinner since it's already been decided in advance. 

I hope you found this helpful! I have become such a big proponent of meal planning and though it does take a little bit of work at the beginning, I'm happy to spend the time doing it while I sit on the couch in my pj's on a lazy Sunday morning, rather than on a weeknight when I'm already frazzled and feeling lazy after a long work day.

I'll be back later this week with more ways I use Sunday to prep for the week!

Questions of the Day:

How do you prep for the week?

Are you into meal planning?

If so, what do you find to be the most helpful?

What About Me Wednesday + Meal Planning

Hellooo! Isn’t it fantastic that it’s already Wednesday?! Oh how the world would just be a better place if Monday was officially part of the weekend :) So today I want to share with you a new thing that I’m going to try out here on the blog. I’m starting a segment called What About Me Wednesday where each Wednesday I’ll share a random fact or FAQ with you all and I hope that you’ll share some back with me! That being said, if you have any questions you want me to address - be it about cooking, tips, recipes, eating my way through Manhattan and New Jersey, Shaun, our kitchen or apartment, etc - please ask and I’ll try my best to answer. Sound ok?



So for today’s What About Me Wednesday, I’m going to share a little secret that has nothing to do with cooking. I am the farthest thing from an early riser.

But oh how I wish I was! I’m completely envious of people who wake up at 5:30 everyday, get in a good workout and then have the entire day ahead of them. I am just not one of these people! If I can work out in the morning, it’s a rare occasion and it takes a whole lotta convincing myself to do it. I struggle every morning to even wake up for work on time. What can I say, I love my warm and cozy bed! My mom is a super early riser and I really, really wish that I had gotten this gene. I think I'd get so much more out of life if I was this way. What about you? Are you an early riser? Or a night owl?

For the second part of today’s post, we’re talking meal planning. I have really been trying to get in the habit of planning out our meals each week. It’s a bit time consuming, but I’m hoping to get into the swing of things as the weeks go on! I scour magazines and cookbooks for what I want to try out and then head out to the grocery store to get my supplies for the week.

just a small sampling of my extensive cookbook collection
So today I’m sharing this week’s meal plan that I devised on Sunday morning. I try to plan out each dinner and then have a few things around to suffice for lunch since both Shaun and I bring our lunches to work almost everyday. For this week’s lunches, I made a batch of lightly dressed egg salad (still working on the perfect recipe) and a tray of whole wheat farfalle with lots of veggies. And here’s the dinner rundown:

Sunday
Dinner: mushroom & spinach tarts with salad (recipe coming soon!)


Monday
I had planned to make cod with broccoli quinoa pilaf, but someone decided that he wanted buffalo chicken nuggets instead. I made him go out for the ingredients.


Tuesday
I had planned to make pizza (with whole wheat dough and fresh mozzarella) but Shaun didn’t feel well so he didn’t want dinner. I had zumba and pilates, so by the time I got home, I simply heated up some leftover nuggets with a few slices of cheese and crackers. A dinner of champions.

Wednesday
The original plan was for leftovers, but since I have fresh cod in the fridge, we will probably have this tonight.

Thursday
I broke out my new Ina Garten cookbook and added her roasted shrimp with feta to the menu. We’ll see how this new recipe goes!

Friday
I had originally planned to either go out or order in, however, since I didn’t make the pizza on Tuesday, this is a viable option for Friday’s dinner.

Saturday
I hardly ever cook on Saturday because we are usually out and about!

So that’s how I had planned out the week of meals. I also filled in the gaps with lots of fruit, veggies and Chobani Greek yogurt (our new favorite snack!). To plan out our meals has taken a lot more effort than I thought it would, but I think that it’s the best way to eat healthier and also do some cooking in advance so that I’m not starting from scratch every single night after work. There was one point where we were eating dinner at 9:00 each night, which is just not a healthy way to live!

So what do you think? Have you ever tried meal planning? Any tips to share?