The meal planning code is cracked--
Here's my EMPM (Easy Meal Planning Method):
- I scan Pinterest or the internet (I like to use Feedly to help me easily follow various food blogs too!) for recipes that I know my family would like.
- I pin them to my Pinterest boards Just Eat It or Carolyn's Daily Dishes
- I write the titles down on a piece of paper which is our weekly "Menu". (My husband loves this!)
- I then go to my Pinterest board and bring the websites up for each recipe pin I saved and scan the ingredients, writing down what I know I'll need to buy at the store.
- I take the ingredients list with me to the store and put the "Menu" on our refrigerator.
Need meal plans already created for you? Check out Carolyn's Daily Dishes for a weekly list of "what's cookin'" in my home, plus links to the recipes!
More FUN Stuff:
- Most meals I plan are plant-based or vegan, but when the recipes I choose aren't, I make adjustments to suit our dietary needs.
- I try to choose meals that don't have me in the kitchen cooking for more than 30 minutes. For special occasions, I may choose one that takes a little longer, but I'm all about quick meal prep!
- All meals I plan usually serve 4 or more people (we are a family of 2, but we like leftovers).
- Sometimes I use cookbooks instead of Pinterest or the web. In that case, I write the cookbook title next to the name of the meal title on my Menu.
- I've created my own "cookbook" out of recipes I've torn out of magazines. I put the recipes in plastic sleeves as I find them and then add them to a binder.
- Sometimes I repeat meals (our favorites).
- Sometimes I won't feel like making one of the meals I planned (because tastes do change). When that happens, I either will make something else out of the ingredients (a new recipe creation by me!) or we'll eat out (usually Chipotle because it is Non-GMO), or eat a frozen meal I have on reserve.
- I give myself at least one night off a week from cooking. We usually eat Amy's Organic Frozen Pizza's on those nights because we currently do not live a city that has many organic or Non-GMO restaurants.
- I don't cook the meals necessarily in the order I list them on my Menu. I just make them according to when the ingredients need to be used (example: the meals that have avocados always need to be made first) and according to our tastes (example: we wouldn't usually choose to make two curry based meals two nights in a row).
- When I know the upcoming week is going to be busy, I'll buy pre-made items for meals instead of preparing them from scratch if the recipe calls for it (example: buying jarred roasted red peppers instead of making them myself or using jarred pasta sauce instead of making my own). Though that may not be the healthiest option, I know it's a reality of life for many.
- We only purchase Non-GMO (non genetically modified) or organic ingredients. We also omit most dairy and gluten from our diets as well. This is our personal preference, but I will say this: our health has improved greatly since we started eating this way over five years ago. Everyone has different health concerns, so choose your ingredients the way you need to based on your health.
- I make adjustments to meal size (example: I'll double the recipe if I know it needs to serve more, or I'll lessen the amount of ingredients used if I know we won't want leftovers).
- We're a leftovers kind of a house most of the time, but sometimes we don't want them the next day. In that case, I freeze leftovers.
- Sometimes I can't find items for recipes I want to make because the food item may not be in season. When this happens, I sub in other things. (example: organic, good, fresh asparagus is hard to find sometimes, so I'll sub in brussels sprouts.)
- I try to meal plan based on season (example: we usually eat more soups and stews in the winter, and more salads in the summer).
- I don't tend to meal plan for lunches because we usually have leftovers. When I know we won't, I buy Amy's burritos or other frozen meal options (the brand has all kinds of varieties), buy items to make salads and sandwiches or I make my Cheesy Ramen Noodles. We almost never buy lunch out.