I’ve been asked about how I plan for the week. One thing we do in our family is all our shopping and most of the cooking on Sunday. It happens to be the day we’ve chose and it’s a bit less hectic in the morning than on a Saturday.
I came across a good article that summarizes the whole process but I thought it helpful to write out my method as well (which is quite similar).
I have a fridge weekly calendar with four columns (from the $1 Store): days of the week, lunch, dinner, notes. I work systematically through the week, starting with my work calendar so I know if I have any working-lunches or get togethers and then evening commitments. Then, I check with my hubby to see if he has any other known events or food preferences for the week.
For example, this week he’s having pasta every night because he needs to gain some weight and I’m having fish with steamed broccoli for the first two days, and smoked salmon with a beet salad for the remainder of the week.
Steve has baked chicken over rice with a premixed sauce, and a deli sandwich for lunch on 4 days/wk and a sub on Friday after the gym. He packs and apple and granola bar, homemade oatmeal muffin and glass of milk as snacks. It’s very predictable so the only choice factor is the sauce.
For myself, the stressful part can be figuring out the meals and snacks. I aim for a piece of fresh fruit (a mixture throughout the week), raw almonds, and fresh cucumber. I like to have variety.
Lunch varies from salads to reheated servings from a casserole. This week I’m having crustless chicken pot pie and a side of cucumber/tomato salad. The week before last, it was black bean/corn salsa with cooked chicken. Dinners are completely varied but the main consideration is the serving size and other events during the week so nothing goes to waste.
My favourite cookbooks right now are: Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes & Food Revolution, Meg Galvin’s Sparkpeople Cookbook, Anne Lyndsey’s The Ultimate Low-fat Mexican Cookbook, and Julie Daniluk’s Meals that Heal Inflammation and Hot Detox. Changing a dish with different herbs or spices can change the whole flavour profile. Consider switching European herbs for Asian or Morrocan spices.
We keep a running list of household things we need (toilet paper, shampoo, cleaning supplies, etc) and then we do a once-over on Sunday morning for the pantry items that we keep on hand (milk, oatmeal, beans, frozen berries) and snack items (granola bars, nuts). Then I write out the recipe book/page # and all the ingredients I’ll need to get. That way when I get home I know what goes with what.
With our meals already prepared, the routine when we get home from the grocery store is simple.
- wash our hands
- put away dairy and meats
- wash all fruit and vegetables, dry and put away
- put away non-perishables
- set aside any reusable bags that need to get washed and fold the rest for storage (we use a large back to store the others)
- get cooking
Meal planning does take some effort, but it creates no stress during the week and cost savings for our budget.