How to Meal Plan!

by Nicole on July 27, 2010

I get emails often asking me ideas for easy meals during the week that don’t require much work/stress/time. Instead of writing another email about how I meal plan and make dinners during the week, I decided to write a post about what I do. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of weeks (like the 10 during the summer) where I slack on cooking meals, preparing lunches and everything else in between. 

During the summer I am a complete scavenger in the kitchen. I make the most random lunches that consist of who knows what, but that’s because I’m “relaxed Nicole” as Danny and my sister call it. During the year I’ve SUPER type A and have to be home early on Sundays so I can do all this, so I don’t stress during the week. I know Chris and Danny are laughing right now at this, because every Sunday I announce, “ugh I have to make lunch.” I really do hate it, but it makes my life SO much easier, so I do it.

And I have to say to the person who texted me this question yesterday, I am in COMPLETE denial I will ever have to go back to work, so even answering this question was torture for me.

So here are my tips for preparing meals during the week:

1. Plan most of your meals out for the week, your life will be much easier when you go to the food store. You can also plan your meals based on the sales at the food store. Make whatever meat is on sale your main event for the week (or buy extra and freeze it for the next week). 

2. Prepare everything you need for the week one day or night. I like to wash, cut and chop all of my fresh produce on Sunday. I also like to make all my lunches on Sunday so I have a very easy week. I also like to portion out my snacks or crackers I eat with my lunch.

3. Prepare foods in bulk. Make multiple servings of rice or chicken when you make it on a Monday so you can eat leftovers for the rest of the week. I like making about 4 servings of rice and/or quinoa at a time, that way I don’t have to spend time doing it on other days. You can easily make a lot of chicken/burgers/steak on the grill so it’s quick and easy.

4. Make foods that are versatile. Chicken can be used on a sandwich for lunch, as a main meal for dinner and eaten with rice, pasta, bread etc. If you want to make life easier, make foods that can be easily eaten with many different things. 

5. If you get home from work and are exhausted and don’t feel like cooking at all, have breakfast for lunch. That is always my fall back on option when I’m tired/lazy. I’ll cook up a quick egg scramble or whole grain pancakes, filling and healthy.

6. Have someone that will clean up after you when you’re done making a gigantic mess.

Here are some lunch or dinner options. Of course you can make whatever you want. Remember to buy a big pack of whatever you are cooking (ie: chicken,pork,turkey, pasta) and make it at once so you have leftovers.

Lunch or Dinner
Chicken with Peanut Sauce
Chicken Pad Thai
Chicken Corn Chowder
Egg Frittata
Mediterranean Chicken
Turkey Burgers
Chickpea Burgers
Pan Seared Tuna
Whole Wheat Pasta with Sausage
Turkey Meatloaf
Any Meat Marinade
Citrus Marinade
Nut Butter Fries
Sweet, Sweet Potatoes
Whole Grain Pancakes

I hope these tip will help when you are meal planning and preparing to go to work. I’m not going back to work until September so I’ll continue to be a scavenger for now! 

I’m off to get my haircut and hopefully get to the beach! Have a good one!

Remember to “like” me on facebook! 

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Autumn @Good Eats Girl July 27, 2010 at 8:21 am

Good tips! I agree….such a pain to do, but preparing ahead of time is a lifesaver during the week!


Simply Life July 27, 2010 at 8:35 am

Great tips! I couldn't agree more that meal planning saves SO much time and money!!


Estela @ Weekly Bite July 27, 2010 at 8:48 am

Love the tips!! Meal planning is so important!


Stephen Orlando July 27, 2010 at 9:16 am

Great ideas! especially taking time on Sunday to prepare for the whole week. It must really help by the time Wednesday or Thursday comes around and the motivation to make a good meal is gone.


Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen July 27, 2010 at 9:48 am

Great tips! I love cooking one large thing on Sunday and then making smaller meals with it throughout the week. It makes it easy to prepare meals and change it up so you aren't just eating the same thing over and over.


Your best advice July 27, 2010 at 10:08 am

great tips


Katie @ Healthy Heddleston July 27, 2010 at 11:04 am

Good tips! And I like the #6 that you cross out :P


Kelly @ Healthy Living With Kelly July 27, 2010 at 11:09 am

Wonderful tips and thanks for the recipes!!!


Christine@Grub, Sweat and Cheers July 27, 2010 at 11:46 am

You are wonderfully organised! I plan out about half a week's worth of meals at best. I seem much more capable of this in winter rather than summer when we are so busy. Plus I find in the winter it's easier to double up on soups/stews etc and in the summer everything is lighter and fresher.

Have a good day!


emily (a nutritionist eats) July 27, 2010 at 2:29 pm

These are great tips! I am a total meal planner too. Sundays are the devil, but I'm always glad I've got things ready to go during the week!


Jessica (Healthy Exposures) July 27, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Great tips!! I found meal planning to be incredibly helpful when I was just getting with the "healthy eating" thing, in addition to helping with my time situation. I LOVE having an idea in my head so I don't spend precious moments trying to think of WHAT to have – because for me, that's the hardest part!
And I admire your ability and fridge capacity to make ALL your lunches on Sunday. I do mine the night before but I have plenty of time and more of an idea what I'm in the mood for, too :)
And, I hear you on the scavenger thing. I'm like that lately, too!


Christine July 27, 2010 at 9:50 pm

This worked for me last summer and I just stuck with it! Makes life so much easier!


the actor's diet July 27, 2010 at 10:17 pm

these are great tips! i never think about just having breakfast for dinner – there's always enough time to slap together some oatmeal!


Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) July 28, 2010 at 2:12 am

all of your tips do double duty for being a mom and trying to feed a toddler on the fly or a hubs or basically being able to go from 0 to dinner on the table in 10-15mins. It means pre-chopping, having things washed, having options already 75% ready to go, etc etc…great tips, i do the same. Show us your hair!


pegasuslegend July 28, 2010 at 3:14 am

great idea's… and wonderful to have the time to do all this …you are amazing!


Tina July 28, 2010 at 9:23 am

Great meal planning tips. I put so many of these into practice. I also make a point to have easy meals included in the meal planning rotation so it isn't too stressful.

Reply July 28, 2010 at 11:33 am

hee hee i am a scavenger in the kitchen in the summer too! i make the most random lunches and snacks-it is fun! these are great tips nicole!


Fit Chick in the City July 28, 2010 at 12:17 pm

I'm super impressed with your food prep!


Abby July 28, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Can I hire you to make my meal plans? I need it!


Carla August 1, 2010 at 8:09 am

Great meal planning tips! I'm inspired by your food prep photo and I absolutely love your breakfast for dinner fall back idea. I think I'm going to make that one a regular part of my weekly meal plan.


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