Mondays suck. That dreadful day serves as both the official end of your blessed weekend and the start of your work week. Somewhere during that day, you have to concern yourself with what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Be it for just you or for that loving family at home, you probably plan your decisions about what to eat and even what you buy on a whim. Those golden arches seduced you into spending $25 bucks Tuesday, the kids want pizza Wednesday and so on. That’s money you could use for literally anything else buttttt you instead waste it on unhealthy garbage made by someone else.
If that’s what you prefer to do with your coin, cool. More power to you, no judgement over here. But if you’re budget conscious, want a break from repetitive dishes, a single parent or just a person pressed for time, allow me introduce the concept of meal planning. If the name itself isn’t obvious, meal planning is just you taking time out to plan out at least a couple days’ worth of meals and do the prep work ahead of time.
Meal Preparation itself is certainly not a new concept. Every home cook has pre planned a meal ahead of time, think Thanksgiving for example. You gather everything you need and begin preparing for that day well ahead of time. What I’m trying to do is open your mind to doing the prep and cooking it ahead of time for the whole week. It may seem like sort of a lofty goal but of course, I have suggestions to see you through the process. Do not allow the traditional five day work week to become your excuse for why you can’t provide your family or yourself a nutritious meal. Consider the following:
- Pick one meal group to plan for and stick with it:
- There will be plenty of time for variations once you’ve established a reliable routine. The first time is not the time to take on two different meal groups
- Plan according to budget:
- This is critical. We’re not trying to break the bank, we’re just simplifying meal time. Keep spending to a minimum
- Write out menu plan for that meal group and the ingredients necessary to make those meals:
- You have to know what you plan to prepare in order to know what to buy
- Use versatile ingredients that can be incorporated in as many of the meals as possible:
- Save money and time by using repeating ingredients
- Document all that went into the recipe:
- What went right? How did it hold up? Need more salt? Document the recipe itself and any changes you need to make next time you attempt it
- Do NOT try to do too much:
- This is practical advice. If you’ve never made a particular recipe, if it calls for too many ingredients or has a short shelf life, don’t do it! Save yourself the headache and the wasted bread literally and figuratively
- Make time to get this all done:
- All the planning in the world will fail if there isn’t time to get it done. If you have the traditional five day work week, set aside a weekend day to plan, prep, cook and freeze your meals.