Sunday, August 24, 2014

An Easy Approach to Meal Planning

Well, graduate school starts up again tomorrow and the school year for my students begins on Sep. 2nd.  Back to School is always a crazy and stressful time of year.  My eating and workouts have been less than stellar the last couple weeks.  I just have been running so many errands for work to get my classroom set up, as well as working all day with my summer school kids.

Since tomorrow is a fresh start, it is a great time to get started back up on a regular routine with food and workouts.  Now, I have a love/hate relationship with food.  I love food, and I love to eat.  However, I hate figuring out what to eat.  I tend to get sick of things very quickly.  My husband is simple.  He could eat the same thing every day.

I tend to plan and cook most of our meals. I try to get his input, but he only ever suggests breakfast tacos or chili. So, yeah I never really feel excited about his suggestions.  I threw out the idea of him having to be responsible for dinner a couple nights a week, but he will pick something I won't want.  Then, we are back to where we started.  So, I started thinking about what things would I be content to eat every week.  If I could come up with 2 meal ideas I don't mind eating every week, then it is less for me to plan.

We do usually eat breakfast tacos or some type of eggs at least once a week.  Eggs are so easy, and I have always liked breakfast for dinner.  So I decided one of our easy meals each week will be an egg meal.  I also love pizza.  Dairy doesn't agree with me very well, so if I order pizza it always upsets my stomach.  When I make pizza at home though, it usually does not bother my stomach because I use cheese sparingly.  I also like making pizza because it is easy leftovers to take to work for lunch.

Tips for Easy Meal Planning

1) Choose at least 2 meals you don't mind eating and cooking every week.  If you choose recipes that are very simple to make, this will make your life even easier. Choose something others in your household like to make, and this may even allow you to split up the responsibility.

2) Pick one new recipe each week.  I find by picking one new recipe a week I get to try something new, which satisfies my need for variety, without overwhelming myself.

3) Pick one other recipe that you know off the top of your head that you rotate over the weeks.

4) Make enough to have leftovers so you get some extra dinners or lunches out of it.

5) Try cooking more than one meal at a time.  This means less nights of cooking and cleaning up.  You can just heat things up for leftovers.  I often like to make one recipe on the stove and then another recipe in the oven or the crockpot. 

I usually plan about 4 meals for the week, and then we eat some of them more than once.  I do not like to plan which meals are for which days because this way I can see what I am in the mood for each day. This week we are eating:
  • Breakfast for Dinner: Breakfast Tacos with turkey sausage and veggies of choice
  • Pizza: Homemade pizza with sausage, bell pepper, red onion, and black olives
  • Recipe from the rotation: Picadillo (I like to use Skinny Taste's recipe, but I use tomatoes instead of tomato sauce.  It is good with quinoa, brown rice, as tacos, or on a taco salad.)
Do you follow any food blogs on Facebook?  This is a great way to get ideas for recipes!  Recipes come across your feed, and you don't even have to go searching for them.  This is how I found Skinnytaste's sausage and veggie skillet this week. 

How do you like to meal plan?  Any easy solutions?