“Meal planning” is quite the buzzword these days. It seems to me like everywhere I turn there’s a blog or a magazine promoting the optimal way to plan out your meals for the week or month, and grocery shop according to a prescribed list that promises to provide enough food for your scheduled meals and no extra. I’m sure for some people, meal planning helps them stick to a limited budget and makes life easier for a busy family. I, admittedly, have been staunchly in the opposite camp in which I’d rather spend a little extra time each day figuring out what to eat when I get hungry, instead of turning planning that out into a chore once a week that I’ll inevitably grow to hate. However, last week I decided to flip my conceptions on their head and plan my meals.
- Not eat out for any of the meals I’ve agreed to plan. In my mind, the ultimate part of meal planning is cooking, so that’s what I aim to do.
- Decide over the weekend what to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday through Thursday, and breakfast & lunch on Friday (I’ll eat out for dinner on Friday, as a treat, if I make it through).
- Purchase as few ingredients as possible during the week, as this seems like a perfect opportunity to eat through my freezer– I have a lot in there and I’d like to clean it out.
- Not eat the same exact meal more than once- or at the very least, not on consecutive days.
It turns out that I had a meeting on Thursday evening that provides food, so I didn’t have to make myself dinner that night either; leaving 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 3 dinners that I had to plan.
- Considering that I wrote my meal plan on Sunday and couldn’t find it on Monday morning, I did an admittedly terrible job following the plan I made!
- I did still do my best to prepare every meal from food I had at home.
- On Thursday, I had to deal with a rent payment fiasco, it was Rosh Hahanah, and I was running back and forth between campus and synagogue all day, so I didn’t leave myself any time to prepare myself lunch. Instead I bought lunch in the hospital cafeteria for ~$5.
I’m no good at planning my meals, because I’m hungry for different things each day and I don’t know over the weekend what I will want to eat each day of the week. But if I have it in my head that I’m not going to buy food out for a week, I can be creative and think up meals to prepare based on ingredients already in my kitchen (this is actually the second time recently that I have tried this, and both times, it’s been a success). In the future, though, I should plan weeks like this mid-month instead of as a reaction to being low on money towards the end of the month.