As promised from my previous post, “5 Steps to Reorganize Your Week,” I was going to go more in depth about my meal planning tips.
I absolutely love cooking, but meal planning is just not something I look forward to. I actually despise it. There is something about sitting down and having to plan out what we’re going to eat for the next 3, 4, 5 days from now when I can’t even remember what I had for lunch two hours ago. Quite frankly it’s annoying.
Nevertheless, planning can take the stress and frustration off of not knowing what to make when you look at the clock and suddenly realize hubby is due home in an hour. I’d much rather be prepared than to stand there staring at my pantry not knowing what to make.
I have come up with some ways that I use to help make my meal planning faster and easier. As mentioned before, my husband and I only go out for dinner once a week which leaves me planning 7 breakfast’s, 7 lunches, and 6 dinners. I choose to grocery shop once a week.
I know there are people out there that prefer to plan their meals for a month at a time, and I give them props because I just can’t do it. I find what works best for my husband and I is to grocery shop once a week. I plan out our meals every Sunday and grocery shop every Monday.
Every lovely Sunday afternoon when my husband decides to start on his homework (Did I tell you how proud I am of him? The man is getting his master’s degree!), I sit down at my desk next to him and prepare myself for constant clicks through recipes. He likes to listen to piano music and most times I’ll plug my headphones in and listen to Netflix or my own music. It’s our way of spending time together in a productive way.
Tip: It may not be for you, but when it comes to meal planning I tend to get bored and listening to my favorite show or radio station is a way for me to focus while being entertained. It also helps the time fly by.
My absolute FAVORITE place to find recipes is through Pinterest! I mean, who doesn’t love this site?! They couldn’t make it any easier to organize your thoughts, ideas, and recipes. It seriously saves you a great deal of time. Trust me, make a board filled with recipes and that way you can find it again simply by going into your board instead of searching through Google to find that one recipe you lost on that one website.
I usually make a lot of chicken dishes (usually around four out of the six dinners I prepare are chicken recipes) for two reasons:
- There are so many ways you can incorporate chicken into a meal that your recipe box (or board) will never run dry. I guarantee it!
- I can buy a thing of 8 chicken breasts for close to $10. I use one at a time and freeze the rest. Since we aren’t big eaters Kevin and I can usually can split a chicken breast. Therefore I usually only buy chicken every other week.
Once on Pinterest, I’ll search things like “chicken recipes” – “easy meals” – “baked chicken dishes” – “chicken Crockpot meals.” Pin the recipe, find the ingredients needed, immediately add them to your “Out of Milk” app, and make a list of when you want to make that meal. (Don’t forget your side dishes!)
I guess we reach the part of my story where you find out how many allergies I have. We’re gonna go ahead and skip the environmental portion for now and just focus on food. Please note I am allergic to the following items: Peanuts (will go into anaphylactic shock if consumed), dairy (allergic to the protein in dairy therefore making it a problem for it to come in contact with my skin), wheat (puffy eyes, stuffy nose, and wheeziness), and fish (I’m not sure what happens because I’ve always avoided it).
Now you can imagine with these kinds of allergies it would make things harder on me when cooking is involved. Nonetheless my abilities to create substantial and satisfying meals on a budget for the both of us are becoming more and more polished.
My husband was a lucky one who was born with no known food allergies and prefers eating regular pasta as every normal human would. This does make it a little bit difficult when I’m cooking things like say, spaghetti. I’ll buy regular garlic bread for him, Gluten Free (GF) for me, and the same procedure goes when buying noodles. Corn noodles for me, regular for him.
NOTE: I have found that the cheapest GF items I can buy are going to come from Aldi. Yet one more reason to love shopping there!
This is what my list will look like by the time I’m done meal planning for the week:
Monday: Over Easy Eggs, Bacon & Toast
Tuesday: Scrambled Eggs, Little Smokies, and Biscuits
Wednesday: Pancakes & Bacon
Thursday: (My husband works early every Thursday and wakes up just in time for me to hand him a quick bite before he’s out the door therefore it has to be something I can just put together in a matter of 5 minutes.) Piece of Fruit & Sausage Biscuit
Friday: Oatmeal & Bacon
Monday: Lemon Chicken and Asparagus With Butter Noodles
Tuesday: Italian Dressing Caramelized Chicken, Salad, and Rice
Wednesday: Shepherds Pie
Thursday: Chicken Strips, Green Beans, and Loaded Baked Potatoes
Friday: Sesame Seed Teriyaki Chicken and Lo Mein
Saturday: CrockPot Beef and Broccoli over Rice
In upcoming posts I’ll share with you how I transform every recipe to fit our needs for a tasty and allergen free diet. Also I’ll tell you how I shop on a budget and ways I’ve learned to stretch every penny.