Do you weekly meal plan? I’m experimenting with it this week, and although it’s only a day in I think it’s going pretty well. Typically I’m that person who finds a recipe on a blog or Pinterest during the day, runs to the grocery store after work, and by the time I cook and eat the meal it often just wasn’t as great as it was promised to be. My non-plan approach is a total waste of time and money.
I decided to focus on planning dinners and leftovers for lunch the following day. I found three new recipes I wanted to try, and used one old stand-by, too. I printed the recipes and went through my kitchen to determine what I already had, and created a specific grocery list for what I would need to buy. The grocery list was really comprehensive, and I included measurements (instead of just mushrooms, I wrote 8oz of mushrooms). I have a tendency to overbuy or buy in bulk and when you’re cooking for just one person it’s not really economical.
Another separate “cooking for one” tip is sometimes hitting up the salad bar in your grocery store can be a great way to get pre-cut, small amounts of fresh vegetables, cheeses, croutons, etc. I check out the price per weight of the items in produce section then figure out how much I need. If the price per weight of the salad bar is cheaper then usually I go that route. It also makes more sense to go the salad bar route if you only need a small amount of it but you can only buy a large, prepackaged amount in the produce section. It’s great for things like cherry tomatoes, olives, peppers, and mushrooms.
I used a cute little template from this website that has a free download available. There are a ton of images that pop up when you Google image search “weekly meal planner” but this just happened to be my favorite.
This is kind of a getting my feet wet week, because I work Friday night, so that’s kind of taken off the table for making a dinner. I also have dinner with my parents once a week (aka my parents make me dinner once a week). That left me with three weeknight dinners to plan and here’s what I came up with:
- My stand-by recipe of chicken and broccoli, posted here, easily made the cut. It’s quick, easy, and I already know that I love it.
- Chicken + Vegetable Pot Pie from this recipe for vegetable pot pie but I added some chicken. I cooked this last night, and I’m eating leftovers for lunch today and it’s a great recipe. It also doesn’t involve any “cream of something soup” or five sticks of butter so I was happy.
- Black bean quesadillas from the same blog, posted here, and homemade guacamole. I thought it would be a good easy and healthy meal, plus I love guacamole. I’ll post my super simple, five ingredient guacamole recipe here once I make it later this week.
I think once I get the hang of it, I would love to plan breakfasts at some point, too. I rely on lunch being leftovers because I cook for myself, and I’m totally okay with some repetition in meals so long as it isn’t cooking one massive casserole or lasagna and eating it all week-long.
I grocery shopped on Sunday and spent approximately $50.00 on food which is a definite improvement on my aimless, mindless trips to the grocery store. I literally had to restrain myself from buying things off my list. For example, I put those mini-packages of cereal in my cart and had to take them out and did the same thing with some random pastry item near the produce. The $50 included my ingredients for my dinners, some fresh fruit, yogurt, and protein shakes for breakfasts and snacks.
I always considered meal planning something for large families but I think it will be a great way to keep my grocery bill and general food costs down. I’m curious if anyone else weekly meal plans, and if so what your strategy or experience has been like. Any tips are welcomed!