Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How To Create A Weekly Meal Plan

"If you fail to plan, plan to fail."  -Benjamin Franklin

You get off work after a really long 8 hour shift and are exhausted and starving. You come home to find an equally exhausted and starving family and nothing is prepared, nothing is thawed and anything that you are going to make is going to take forever and you just don't want to do it. So you reach for the phone and order a pizza.

Sound familiar?

Of course it does. I have done this multiple times and I think that this story is familiar in every household. You come home after working hard all day and spend your hard earned money on a large 2 topping heart attack in a box, plus delivery fee and tip, just to relax and unwind after a tough day.

There is a better way.

The better way involves taking 10-15 minutes out of your day once a week to actually figure out healthy meal plans you want for the week and then another 1-2 hours on a weekend day to prepare those meals and get them ready for the week. The trick is to make this as convenient as possible so you don't have to pay a premium for convenience.

Let's start off with breakfast. What do you want to eat and drink every morning before you start your day. My breakfast includes cereal with vanilla almond milk and coffee so you want to make sure that you have those things added to your list. Sometimes I will prepare oatmeal in a mason jar (Oh, I love mason jars) with cinnamon and nuts and when I want them, I just add water or almond milk and pop it in the microwave and have a hot breakfast in just 2 minutes. Other times, like this weekend, my husband was tired of oatmeal and cereal so we did egg sandwiches with cheddar on an English muffin,

Lunch. I make salads in Mason jars. (Did I mention that I love mason jars?) I get my toppings together like cheese, tomatoes, chicken, nuts croutons and put them in a jar and then buy whole romaine hearts (a lot cheaper than the bagged pre-washed stuff) and chop up the lettuce. My husband takes sandwiches, fruit, a cereal bar and nuts.

Dinner. I sit down and figure out which days of the week are the busiest and make those crock pot days and then figure out which days I have more time to make a meal and make the most complicated dishes on those days.

So I grocery shop and do food prep on different days. On food prep days I spend 1-2 hours cutting lettuce, chopping veggies, and assorting snacks into snack size containers and have an assembly line of food that is going to be easily accessible throughout the week.

So here is what my week looks like:

Breakfast Mon-Sun- Cereal with vanilla almond milk and coffee

Lunch Mon-Sun-Chef salad with ranch dressing and sliced tomatoes, turkey, ham, boiled eggs and croutons-already assembled in a jar to just grab and dump on a plate.

Dinner: Mon-Egg salad sandwiches and fruit
             Tues-Crock pot roast beef and mashed potatoes and carrots
             Weds-BBQ chicken, cole slaw and deviled eggs
             Thursday- Crock pot chili
             Friday- Homemade chicken tenders with homemade honey mustard and oven roasted fries
             Saturday-Parmesan shrimp, baked potato and roasted asparagus
             Sunday- Grilled pork chops, rice pilaf and steamed broccoli

The day before the dinner after I cook, I will assemble marinades and put meat in there and lay out the ingredients for the next day so it's not a hassle to throw something together with already assembled meats, chopped vegetables and premade sauces.