Meal Planning 101 and Beyond

May 17th, 2015 by Courtney Price with no comments

Are you short on time during the week? Do you always feel like you are throwing meals together last-minute? Well, I’ve come up with a method of meal planning that not only keeps me from guessing what the next meal will be, but it also gives me more time to spend with my family and saves us money weekly! Wanna know how?! Here goes!

So, look at the picture below. As you can see, I detail out the weather, my workout of the day and what’s for dinner! Sounds complicated, right?! Well, it now only takes me a total of 15 minutes to meal plan AND plan out my week with these few simple steps. Here’s how:

* On Sunday morning, I grab my coffee {very important in the planning process;}, planner, pencil, phone and grocery list.

* I start out by checking the weather on my phone for the week. This is super important to me in the planning process. I mark the High/Low {in the top right hand corner} AND then I pencil in raindrops if there is a chance of rain that day {see Thursday}. Why? Well, if there is a chance of rain that day, I make sure the meal I have planned doesn’t require me to be outside working the grill. So, if it’s going to rain, I have an indoor meal planned instead.
The weather also helps me decide what type of activity to plan with the kids for the week! If it’s rainy all week but one day looks clear for example, I will plan to be outside playing or at the park on the non-rainy day and I’ll try to have indoor activities that will keep everyone happy and reduce cabin fever on those rainy days 😉 If it’s hot and sunny every day, we will plan play dates that include pools, water, etc.

* Ok, so now that I’ve got the weather written out, now I can decide what types of meals to plan out. I usually do a grilled chicken and veggies meal on Monday. Why? Because strategy is everything! When I grill chicken, I always make a lot of extra. I figure if I’ve already got the grill on, I might as well take advantage of the time {and propane $$} I’m already using. So, I make extra chicken Monday, which saves me time overall because I’m not having to grill the same thing again later in the week. I can then use it later in the week for other dinners and for lunches! Genius, right?!

* I also write in my planner events that we are committed to attending. For example, on Tuesday we have ballet at 5:30 and we get home at 6:30, which is dinnertime. To save ourselves from having to grab fast food, I will have a meal planned that I can prep in advance. One of my go-to meals is a grilled chicken cobb salad {could be a Greek, could be chicken taco salad, etc}! So, I can easily put together a salad earlier in the day and toss some of that yummy, already grilled, chicken on top! Yummy, healthy and easy!

* Another important part of my meal planning is taking advantage of deals and specials at our local grocery stores. When we first started to adapt the clean eating idea in our household, I had a hard time imagining spending money on things like hormone and antibiotic free chicken. I mean, that just sounds expensive, right? I can easily go to Costco and get a big bag of frozen chicken for a lot less, right? Wrong! If you plan it right, you can find savings at your stores that will save you money and allow you to get the best options for your buck. So, look at Tuesday. You will see The Fresh Market penciled in. If you have a Fresh Market local to you, mark it on your calendar for Tuesday! Because TFM has $2.99 Tuesday, where their hormone and abx free chicken is only $2.99/lb! They also have $2.99/lb ground beef and lots of other deals on Tuesdays! So, when I go {and I go about once a month} I stock up on several family packs of chicken and then I break them down into smaller freezer packs when I get home. I save a TON of money doing this and am also feeding my family a much better alternative to the “regular” chicken.

* I also spend a day in the beginning of the week prepping food for the rest of the week. I get all of my fruits and veggies washed and cut and ready to grab and eat. This saves me from heading to the pantry for a quick snack. Instead, I can grab fresh produce and snack on that because it’s already cleaned and cut and ready to eat!

* We try to keep it simple in our house and have come up with a few nights that we sort of eat the same thing. Part of it is because it’s easier that way, but the other part is that we are establishing traditions with our family! On Friday night, we make homemade pizzas. This is something the whole family can participate in. It’s fun for the kids to help and since I’m not on a strict timeline {it’s the weekend} it’s laid back and easy and fun for everyone. My girls LOVE rolling out dough and topping the pizzas with their favorite toppings. We usually have steak and veggies on Saturday and we ALWAYS have sauce on Sundays. I make a huge pot of red sauce {my husband’s Italian family recipe, that I dare not share ;} and break it into smaller containers and freeze. Then I don’t have to cook on Sunday! I can enjoy the day with my family and not worry about what’s for dinner! I just take my container of sauce out of the freezer in the morning and then all I have to do is decide what we will have with it. I do try to mix it up so my family doesn’t get bored with it. We might have ravioli one Sunday and the next have eggplant and the next have chicken parmesan and then baked ziti, etc.
For us, this has been a fun way to establish traditions for our family {even our friends and family know what we are having for dinner over the weekend;} and hey, it keeps it simple for me!

* Now that I’ve pretty much got Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday figured out, I’ve really only got to come up with Wednesday and Thursday. Well, we LOVE tacos in our house. So, I can usually come up with either a chicken taco dinner or ground beef, but either way, I know everyone is going to be happy and eat it up! If I’ve done my food prep properly then I don’t have much to do except toss it all together at dinnertime! Now, that just leaves Thursday. I can easily flip back through my planner for meal ideas, look at the internet or flip through a cooking magazine for ideas and fill in the blank for that day.

* While I’m writing everything out in my planner, I keep my grocery list close by so I can be jotting down the items that we’ll need for the upcoming week. I NEVER go to the grocery store without a plan. That is DANGEROUS!

* Now, that I’ve got the weather, meals and daily commitments mapped out, I fill in each day with what exercise I plan to complete. This helps keep me accountable! I write it out and then, I stick to the plan!

* I’ve attached a copy of what a sample week in my house looks like. I selected a week that wasn’t too crazy so you didn’t get overwhelmed with the extra details of our crazy, busy life but it’s a good example of what meal planning looks like in our house. I can’t imagine NOT meal planning. It seriously has saved us money and has given me time back with my family each day!

For more tips and tricks on clean eating, meal planning or fitness and exercise follow me at www.facebook.com/courtneypricefitness or visit my website at www.courtneypricefitness.com

I hope this has helped you!

Xo,

Courtney

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