Hi friends! I’m off from work today due to summer Fridays, which is amaaaaazing! As some of you may remember, I work for an extra 45 minutes every day during the summer but then I get every other Friday off. Woohoo! Usually I wind up using these days off for some kind of vacation/travel plans, but today I’m spending the day getting stuff done around the house so we can spend the rest of the weekend doing other fun stuff. It’s kinda fun having the whole day to myself with no real plans!
This morning started off with a SUPER steamy run with Jack, and we wound up only going two miles because it’s so hot outside. Phew! Summer running is not easy. Despite the heat and humidity, I was happy to run on Arlington’s beautiful trails again! I have to admit I missed these trails when we lived in DC.
Now that we’re back home, I decided to get my meal planning done for the week! I figure if I get my planning and grocery shopping out of the way today, then this weekend we can spend time on other chores, like possibly painting the upstairs loft! (Also I know I owe you guys a post with a tour of the town house, but I keep waiting for everything to be unpacked/ready for you to see! I’m starting to realize it might be a while before that happens, so I’m hoping to get a post to you next week.)
ANYWAY! Back to meal planning. I’ve talked about my meal planning process a bunch of times here on CET, but it’s been more than two years since I wrote a whole post about it so I thought it was time to give you guys an update. Here’s how I plan!
First, I take a quick inventory of our kitchen. I usually know what we have and what we’re out of, but sometimes a quick peek into the freezer or cabinets will remind me about something I forgot about (this week: tilapia fillets) or that we are out of a staple (this week: canned black beans). It also reminds me of what we need to use up, which this week was a big old zucchini that my mom gave me from her garden.
Then I also figure out what our plans are for the week and how many dinners we are realistically going to need. We are usually pretty busy in the summer, and this week is no exception. On Monday I’m meeting some girlfriends for yoga and dinner, on Tuesday Fabio has softball so dinner will need to be something quick, and on Thursday we have happy hour plans with Fabio’s coworkers. We also have some plans with our friends over the weekend so we won’t need dinner on Saturday. Yep – it’s definitely summer.
Once I figured all that out, our meal plan actually came together quite easily.
On the menu:
BTW my menu board is from this Etsy store, but it looks like they don’t have that particular one available anymore.
Of course I usually write out our plan on Sunday so it was a little more challenging to do it on a Friday, but I made it work! Tonight I’m going to make some pico de gallo and mini chicken quesadillas (on taco shells), and then I can use the rest of the taco shells and pico on Tuesday when we have fish tacos (which are very easy and come together quickly, which is perfect for softball night). Tomorrow we have dinner in DC for our friend Ciro’s birthday, and then on Sunday we will have homemade pizza! I already went over Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday with you, and then on Wednesday we will use up the zucchini in the fridge with Cashew Chicken with Zoodles. Meal planning = done!
This week it was pretty easy to figure out what I should make based on our schedule and what we had on hand already, but sometimes we have a bit more freedom and room for creativity. When that happens, I browse through recipes that I save in a folder in my gmail and ones that I’ve printed out and stored in a cookbook (one of these days I’ll get organized with a binder…). I’ve included the links to some of my tried and true recipes below in case you’re interested in browsing them for your own weekly meal planning! Those are all recipes that I turn to week after week and am always happy with them. 🙂
Once I have my menu ready, I figure out what we’ll need to buy at the store. By the way, I have a split grocery list hanging right on my fridge with half the sheets for the regular grocery store and the other half for Costco. This is a system I’ve used for years since there are some things that make more sense to buy at Costco (in this case, poop bags for Jack – lol – and cereal, but we also like buying our eggs, chicken, steak, and salmon there) and other things like produce that I need from the grocery store. To make this list, I just bought a regular notepad with a magnet on the back, and then took a pair of scissors to the paper to cut them into two different strips. Then I rip off whichever list I need when we are going to the store, and it works great!
Because I meal plan this way, our grocery list usually isn’t too long! Obviously I also include whatever items we’ll need for breakfasts and lunches during the week (lunch meat and rolls for Fabio and salad greens for me, plus apples, and bananas for me. FYI – we already have milk, eggs, and Greek yogurt in the fridge). We also like to have a few other staples on hand like potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc. Even with all of this, our grocery bill is usually pretty low and grocery shopping doesn’t take long at all!
It’s a system that works well for us, and honestly hasn’t changed much over the years.
Well now that my shopping list is ready I guess I better head to the store. Sigh. It’s always more annoying going by myself!
In the meantime, here are some recipes to help you with your own meal planning!
Around the Web
Cauliflower Rice Lettuce Cups with Sriracha Peanut Sauce – Veggie and the Beast
Club-Style Turkey Enchiladas Recipe – Taste of Home
Zoodles with Bolognese Sauce – Eat Yourself Skinny
Healthy Bacon and Pumpkin Pasta (this one is great when you have half a can of pumpkin to use up!) – Pinch of Yum
Teriyaki Salmon with Sriracha Cream Sauce (OMG this cream sauce…) – Damn Delicious
Peanut-Crusted Salmon – Better Homes & Gardens
Apricot Balsamic Chicken – Joy the Baker
Cheeseburger Casserole – Skinny Taste
Fish Tacos with Peach Relish – My Recipes
Lightened Up Pad Thai – Iowa Girl Eats
Honey-Soy Broiled Salmon – Eating Well
Chicken Tortilla Soup – Dinners, Dishes & Desserts
Hummus-Crusted Chicken – Gimme Some Oven
Kale Caesar Pasta Salad – Foodie Crush
Cashew Chicken with Zucchini Noodles – Laa Loosh
Almost 5 Ingredient Spaghetti Pie – PaleOMG
Creamy Lemon-Pepper Orzo with Grilled Chicken – Food Network
Egg White Pizza Bake – Peanut Butter Fingers
Brown Sugar Salmon with Avocado Crema – Eating in the Middle Cookbook
Question of the day: Do you meal plan? How do you do it?