I value my time more than anything these days. I’m always looking for ways to cut corners. The most time consuming part of my life, aside from Tommy and work, is FOOD!
As a city girl, I have to walk 15 minutes to the grocery store, shop around (I take forever), walk home and then prepare the food. I could use a service like Instacart, but I enjoy grocery shopping in person.
I don’t usually carve out time to meal plan, but I should. This often leads to multiple grocery store trips or take out during the week. Meal delivery services like The Foodery are fantastic, but you have to remember to place your order.
My New Year’s Resolution is to meal plan and be better about making grocery lists and trying new recipes. I always have a list in my head and it usually consists of eggs, broccoli, milk, peanut butter and bread. All things my family enjoys but hardly enough to create a meal.
Instead of waiting for New Year’s, I’m going to start implementing my resolution now. As they say, it’s never too early to start!
After researching some of my favorite blogs and sites, here are their best tips for how to be better at meal planning that I think I can reasonably do…
1. Find time each week to find new recipes and gather them in one place.
I’d like to note that I feel like I don’t have time for this already which is why I’m terrible at meal planning. I’m pretty sure I’m doomed at my own first bullet point but if people do this every month, I can do it for one week. I stumble upon recipes in the form of Facebook posts from pages I ‘like’ during the week so I’m going to make an effort to save them to a single Pinterest board. I just titled it “Meal Prep Ideas.” Don’t be surprised if there aren’t many there, I just started this effort.
2. Plan out your week.
Who is going to be home for dinner this week? Nick or I often have work events after work hours and are not around for dinner. Do you want to do a reoccurring theme night like tacos, pasta or pizza each week? When do you have time to write your meal plan and grocery shop? None? You don’t have time? Sorry. Maybe meal planning isn’t for you. But keep reading. We do tacos a lot but haven’t labeled any specific day like Taco Tuesday. Maybe we should start?
3. What’s in season? What’s on sale?
I love that Whole Foods has an app that tells you what is on sale and you don’t have to clip out a single coupon. You can just scan one barcode on your phone to get the savings at the check out. On sale or not, in season fruits and vegetables will always be cheaper. The old me would just walk into a store see something on sale and base the rest of my grocery shopping on that produce. It’s probably why I take so long. On the other hand, if I have a specific recipe in mind and I see it’s $5 for the required yellow pepper, I change my course of action.
4. Write down your grocery list.
Cross reference what is on sale with saved recipes
or just go from memory thinking of family favorites when you get the store and see what’s on sale. See what you already have and what you need to buy. If you need a random fresh herb like parsley for one recipe, consider another recipe that requires parsley so it does not go to waste. The parsley Nick buys to make his meatballs always goes bad… always.
If you don’t have time to find a new recipe, this formula always works for me:
Veggie Bowl: Grain + Greens + Beans + Sauce
Pasta Dish: Pasta + Seasonal Vegetable + Pasta Sauce
Stir Fry: Tofu + Rice + Frozen Veggies + Sauce (soy based)
When in doubts, buy a bunch of broccoli and sweet potatoes. They go with almost everything.
5. Go the grocery store and buy the damn food.
You just spent all this time creating ONE list, but now you have to actually go out and find each item at the grocery store. This will save you money and time, I promise. If not this week, eventually, once you get the hang out it.
If you have certain foods (like parsley in my household) that you always throw away, stop buying them! I always buy carrots thinking I’ll eat them as a snack and they always get thrown out.
I know I like smoothies and almond milk in my lattes, so I always buy a carton of Silk Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk. It never goes bad. I always plow through it. Same goes for peanut butter, broccoli, eggs and bread.
I really am terrible at meal planning and writing this post makes me feel like meal planning is exhausting. I don’t know how people do it but I guess the alternative is multiple trips to the grocery store which is way more time consuming or more take out which is expensive. My goal is to find one new recipe to make each week.
The first up is this one from Ambitious Kitchen that is a Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken with Black Rice. I pretty much already have the ingredients as almond milk and peanut butter are two of them! I love an easy and tasty slow cooker recipe.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine. Sign up for their newsletter to get a coupon sent to you directly. Find a store near you that sells my favorite tasting almond milk.
You could prep a few meals at 1 time. Then you would just need to pull the bag out of the freezer, put thr contents in a cockpit and set it. It is no harder to prep 2 of a recipe than 1. I made 10-12 freezer bag meals in 4-5 hours. I wrote the name of the recipe, any ingredients to add during/after cooking, temp, and cooking time on each bag.