You Can Learn to Cook Part 1: Your Meal Plan
There is something I need to seriously address:
Cooking is not difficult, or at least it does not have to be.
I try to present as many super simple recipes on this site as I can, but I am going to break it down even more for you in a several part series.
Part 1: Your Meal Plan
Too many make the mistake of buying too much at the grocery store and then throwing out rotten, stinky lettuce at the end of the week. That is very discouraging, and a big waste of money. Further, if you plan ahead, you won’t find yourself staring into the fridge at 7 PM, hangry like crazy, with nothing in mind to cook.
How to prevent that? Make a plan! It is easier to show you than explain…
My meal plan two weeks ago.
I knew the following:
-Over the weekend I would be eating out.
-Monday I would still be stuck in Rhode Island and would be having people over for dinner at my dad’s house.
-Wednesday I would have a lot of errands to do (laundry, housekeeping, etc) so dinner should be simple
-We were going snowboarding over the weekend in NY and wouldn’t want anything to go bad.
-I have been trying to increase the protein in my diet while still enjoying balanced meals with my husband.
Here is the meal plan I made:
Monday dinner: salmon, asparagus, broccoli, potatoes, bread (RI)
Tuesday dinner: on the road (bring salad with me)
Wednesday dinner: turkey burgers, baked sweet potato fries for me, regular potato fries for PB
Thursday: za’atar breaded yogurt chicken & roasted eggplant
Friday: on the road up to the mountain, make sandwiches with leftover turkey burgers
Lunches for PB: leftovers from dinners, small yogurts, mini blueberry scones, oranges, bread to make sandwiches with the leftovers
Lunches for RG (including afternoon snack): grilled chicken salads with croutons and dried cranberries, Luna protein bars, golden delicious apples
Breakfasts for PB: bagels with cream cheese or eggs
Breakfasts for RG: mini whole wheat bagels with peanut butter and banana
It might seem crazy that I basically plan breakfast, lunch, and dinner for PB and I at the beginning of the week, but we save so much money by doing that. Of course our kitchen is pretty well stocked so we can always change our minds. However, planning this way keeps things creative (I try about one or two new recipes a week) and keeps us always prepared.
How do I pick the meals?
For the lunches I have a vague formula I follow for PB: a main item, a yogurt, a fruit, something fun, and maybe something else if lunch is smaller than usual. For my lunches I always have a smaller, 300-400 calorie lunch, plus a large balanced snack with a little protein, fat, and carbs. It usually is something slightly sweet but mostly healthy to keep my sweet tooth happy.
For the dinners: I think about that day. Do I have a meeting that night? Will I be tired from the weekend or will we not be too hungry from a dinner out the previous evening? I then craft my menu around those plans. I always keep salad ingredients in the house and can always make a salad if our dinner is missing a vegetable, and I try to have a protein source and a carbohydrate source at each dinner. If we are going to be busy or tired one night I try and make something that is quick and easy. If, however, I know we have no plans that night, I might take on a more ambitious meal.
Our basic dinner formula is: a protein (from beans, fish, organic poultry) and a carbohydrate (pasta, rice, couscous, whole wheat bread, potatoes) with some sort of vegetable. If a vegetable comes to mind that easily goes with the meal or we are craving something specific I will buy it. If not I will make a big salad with lots of vegetables to eat with our dinner.
The next step is to find recipes to make, which will be the topic of the next part of this series, followed by market shopping!