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Meal planning 101

I know there are many of you out there who, at 4pm every day, can look at the clock, look in the fridge, and whip up an amazing dinner for your entire family without a blink of an eye or a shiver of dread. I am not that mom.

During lockdown, we would only go to the grocery store every 2 weeks, so I’d end up with a cart full of whatever they had and inevitably some random ingredient would be missing. So, I started meal planning differently.

Here's How I do it Now:

  • Monday or Sunday night I do a deep dive in our freezer, fridge, and pantry. I see what’s missing, what’s expiring, and I start my grocery list.

  • I note what’s expiring first and search for recipes with that specific ingredient, and that’s meal number one. Whatever hasn’t been eaten in a while, or what we have extra of, and so on and so forth. Any extra ingredients go on the grocery list, and then we have a week’s worth of meals based on using what’s on hand.

  • If the fridge is empty and we need a big shop, I generally follow a monthly plan as follows:

Monday- leftovers/ what’s expiring

Tuesday- Mexican (enchiladas, loaded nachos, quesadillas and soup etc)

Wednesday- pasta or Italian (calzones, lasagne, spaghetti etc)

Thursday- Mediterranean or American-inspired meals (lentil loaf with roasted potatoes, spanikopita with quinoa and chickpeas etc)

Friday- Thai, Indian, Asian, or Pizza (curries, pre-packaged stuff from trader joes, stir-fries, bagel-pizzas, ramen)

Saturday/ Sunday we usually do takeout or the kids plan and prepare a meal, so I don't often make a plan for those days but we usually have a bunch of leftovers)

I balance breakfasts and lunches based on what’s for dinner. So, for example, if I’m serving pasta and salad for dinner on Wednesday, I’d do a protein-based breakfast like eggs or yogurt for breakfast. If we are having pizza for dinner, I’ll serve a veggie plate with hummus and fruit over a sandwich.

I mix it up so leftover tortillas from the enchiladas I serve on Tuesday can be used as a flatbread with lentils or chickpea curry on Thursday, or leftover rice from a rice and beans to serve with a Thai stir-fry on Friday.

This usually takes me an hour or so on a Sunday night, but it saves me so much time and sanity throughout the week. All of the meals are on a white board, so if my husband has to start dinner before I can, he knows what to start.

I know meal-planning is not for everyone, but this works wonders for my family! Do you have anything that works for you? Share in the comments below!


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