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Nov 132014
 

After our last experience with Blue Apron, Fabio said that if we started planning our meals more regularly, he would be happy to make dinner once a week.

Oh…really?!?

This obviously piqued my interest, as most evenings in my apartment begin with me staring into our fridge and wondering what to make with the random ingredients we have laying around, while Fabio watches his favorite investment TV show Mad Money or plays a game of FIFA (fun fact: he’s started doing 20 push ups before he allows himself to play a game of FIFA. Yes, seriously). I then make dinner all by myself while he continues relaxing, and then we eat and both clean the dishes (i.e., I wash, and he “dries” while still standing in front of the TV).

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy cooking so this arrangement isn’t too bad for me, but some days I want to be the one relaxing on the couch while he cooks. You know what I mean?

Thank goodness Blue Apron showed Fabio that cooking can be kind of fun, and once he suggested meal planning and cooking once a week, I was ALL over it.

Obviously the first thing I did was buy a cute chalkboard. I considered making one like my friend Jess has, but after looking around on Pinterest and Etsy I saw that there were some cute, relatively cheap ones (between $20 – $30) that would have cost about the same as the materials anyway. With Fabio’s approval, I decided on this one from Etsy. I asked for a light green frame to match the walls in our living room, and after about a week or so it arrived! Hooray!

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I wasted no time in hanging it  getting Fabio to hang it in our kitchen.

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It looks pretty cute there, right?

So far, the meal planning process has been going great! Here’s what I’ve been doing each Sunday morning.

Step One: Conduct inventory in the kitchen. It’s important for me to know what I already have in the kitchen before I start meal planning for the week, otherwise I might wind up cooking a meal that makes too much food, instead of cutting down on things I already have. Have half a can of pumpkin in the fridge? Take note. Have a bunch of asparagus on their last legs? Take note of that too! Before I start planning, I make sure I know what needs to be used up and what needs to be replenished.

Step Two: Browse Recipes. This is probably my favorite part of our new meal planning process, since I love trying out new recipes. Usually when I see a recipe I like on a blog, website, Pinterest, etc., I email it to myself and file it under a special “Recipes folder” in my G-mail. Before meal planning, I used to look through the recipes maybe once a month when I was really feeling uninspired, but that was about it. Now, I look through the folder every Sunday, and I am finally getting to try some of the recipes that I saved years ago! It’s been so fun looking through the different options and picking out what to eat.

Personally, I like my dinners to be a little on the heartier side. I typically eat a lighter breakfast (oatmeal, two-ingredient pancake, or cereal) and lunch (usually a giant salad) and don’t eat a ton of snacks throughout the day (sometimes an apple) so I like to go a little heavier on dinner. I typically don’t mind if there’s some mixture of carbs and/or cheese, as long as there’s a veggie and I don’t go overboard on my serving size. I also like to use up any random ingredients I have in my fridge, so I take that into account while I’m planning.

Here are some of the recipes I have tried (and liked) in the past couple of weeks:

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  •  Chicken with feta cheese sauce and roasted asparagus and carrots (mine didn’t come out like the picture at all, haha! Also, can you spot Jack’s nose checking things out?)

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  •  Pesto pasta with asparagus, tomatoes, and a fried egg

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When it comes time for Fabio’s meal, he has been sticking to his word and cooking once a week. Woohoo! His selections are a little less healthy, but he does a pretty good job. Here’s a couple of the meals he made:

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I have to laugh at the serving size he gave me…I ate about half of that plate above and gave the rest to him. Haha!

Trying new recipes has been so much fun, and I’ve loved learning how to make new things. 🙂

Step Three: Plan your week. Once I have a couple of recipes in mind that I want to try, I plan them out for the week. I usually only plan three nights of actual recipes because I know on other nights Fabio will have softball, I will have a workout date, or something else will come up. I don’t usually plan for the weekends either because we’re always so busy, and we just don’t eat at home much on the weekends. Planning for fewer meals than I think we will need eliminates waste, and if I need more food I can usually scrounge up something at the last minute from the frozen chicken breasts we keep in the freezer, the giant bag of baby carrots we always have in the fridge, and pantry staples like pasta, rice, quinoa etc. It all works out!

Overall, I have really liked the meal planning process and I think it’s helped us save money. Over the summer Fabio and I were so busy traveling and making tons of plans that our meals were always random throw-together dinners. We did most of our shopping at Costco, and therefore had giant bags of brussels sprouts or broccoli that needed to be used at a time, and we would get kind of sick of everything by the time the produce was gone. Now we are still going to Costco for some things, but we’re relying on the regular grocery store for more. It means shopping more frequently (every Sunday instead of every two weeks) but that’s ok – our schedules are slightly less crazy now so we have more time.

Plus there’s the fact that Fabio now cooks dinner once a week, leaving me free to sip a glass of wine on the couch with my kindle. Ahhhh. Success!

Question of the day: Do you meal plan? If so, what’s your process like?

 Posted by on November 13, 2014

  13 Responses to “My Meal Planning Process”

  1. Have you ever checked out the pepperplate app? Great for storing recipes!

  2. I just moved to Chicago and with temporary housing and temporary kitchen equipment, it has resulted in us eating out a majority of the time. Meal planning was on my list for this week since I am not happy with the monetary and health costs of eating out, so thanks for this post!

  3. great post! i love seeing how people meal plan. you’ve inspired me to write a post on this topic, as well. i also have a recipes folder in my gmail — haha! i typically develop a meal plan for the week on saturday or sunday and am more or less in charge of all the meals, all the time. anthony does help, but we’ve found that if both of us get too involved, we end up overlapping or creating gaps in the ingredients we need etc. so, he handles a lot of other stuff around the house (like little construction projects, finances, etc) and i’m the go-to chef. it works for us, for now!

  4. Your chalkboard is so cute! My boyfriend and I go grocery shopping every Sunday. I’ll plan our meals before we go, either recipes from Pinterest and blogs or old favorites. If it’s a week that we get vegetables delivered I’ll make sure to plan meals including those. I usually have an idea of what we’ll eat each night but it changes depending on what I’m feeling that day.

  5. Sooooo Matt and I totally just copied you and ordered that chalkboard menu thingy on Etsy! Super cute and such a good idea. 🙂 We’ve been looking for something to put on one wall in our kitchen – perfect!

  6. Firstly…hahaha to Fabio making himself do 20 push ups before Fifa. I definitely need to mention this to Ben. He used to do 50 push ups every day before bed but has completely got out of the habit. He plays Fifa a lot so this is a great idea!
    My process is very similar to yours. I tend to have a few meals we always have every week, a few back-up meals ready just in case things don’t pan out (usually involving eggs or stuff in the freezer) but I try to do a couple of new things every week (whether this actually happens depends on time/motivation/Ben’s inclination to try something new). Unfortunately Ben cannot cook at all and it really stresses him out so it’s just easier if I do it, but he’s great with helping wash up and tidy up afterwards.

  7. Just came back to this post since I’m finally getting around to getting a new meal planning board over here (the old one got abandoned during the move). I think I’m going to grab this frame from IKEA, throw some cute wrapping paper behind it, and use it for the 7 days and a grocery list. Love using your site as a resource when I need to get some inspiration <3

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