I may have known how to cook for many years, but meal planning escapes me a little- I’m a little more “fly by the seat of my pants” type of eater- like “hmmm… what do I feel like eating today?”
With my more recent schedule, I can’t be like that- I don’t have much time to cook during the week, and I don’t have the budget for takeout or restaurants. That means I have to really get my act together on weekends to plan for the week.
My challenges then, are:
1) Cooking interesting budget-friendly meals in advance
2) Having some favorites on standby (which is kinda difficult when you have cravings ADD)
I think I’m starting to finally get the hang of how to do this better, by keeping it exciting with new recipes, but also knowing myself and what I’m happy reaching for in a pinch. Here’s how I get some of my inspiration, and some of my meal staples:
Produce box inspiration- I’ve been loving getting a produce box delivered to the house, which comes on Thursdays. You can customize it if you want, but I like being surprised so I can get the variety. I usually just like a light breakfast of fruit, so I’ll grab an apple and an orange for breakfast. I also let the produce inspire recipes for the week, or add them to salads.
Cookbook cravings- I see cookbooks as a menu, really… so I just figure out what I’m in the mood to eat! I pick a cookbook based on if it’s healthy, if there are exciting flavors I want to try, or if there’s a recipe I feel like I should know how to make. Lately, I’m trying to look in the index for the ingredients from my produce box, and make 1-3 recipes around that.
Round it out with Easy Sides-
Grains- Rice or quinoa is something I can make easily in my rice cooker. This is great to make and go on a walk or do yoga- you don’t have to hang around.
Roasting- Similarly, roasting is something you don’t have to hover in the kitchen for. I might roast a vegetable in my produce box, like green beans or brussels sprouts, or sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, or cabbage from the market.
Salad- I love buying romaine from the market and eating it with Anne’s Goddess dressing (not sponsored!). To bulk it up, I might add chopped tomatoes, canned beans, kimchi, sundried tomatoes, fresh herbs, sautéed tempeh… even roasted veggies, potatoes or quinoa!
Canned beans- Beans are such a great quick and healthy option. I love adding them to salads, or to a veggie plate filled with all the above easy sides. I love a veggie plate with hot sauce, lime and nutritional yeast, kimchi…
I crave smoothies all the time, particularly chocolate berry! But sometimes I’ll make a green smoothie to get my greens in that way.
I love a smoothie for dinner, too! It’s quick and easy when I get home at night. I have to wake up at the crack of dawn, when I can’t really enjoy a smoothie (who wants a smoothie in the dark? Also, my whole house is asleep, I’m cold, and I’m not hungry anyway).
Chocolate berry smoothie- 1-2 bananas, cacao powder, almond butter, frozen mixed berries, water.
Green smoothie- (can’t stand romaine in green smoothies) fresh pineapple, frozen mango, celery, maybe an apple, almond butter, water or nondairy milk, parsley or cilantro, greens like spinach, collards, or kale. The pineapple really cancels out any greens taste.
I also like to add chia, hemp hearts, and flaxseeds, and you can get them all mixed together in a bag from the market or Amazon.
5. Overnight Oats
I’m not a big oatmeal fan- it’s edible papier mache, I swear!- but I think overnight oats taste good! I recently made a raspberry chocolate one and loved it, it made me want to eat breakfast in the morning. Looking forward to making more!
Raspberry chocolate overnight oats- frozen raspberries, cacao, oats, almond butter, water, maple syrup. Mix, then enjoy the next day!
So on any given day I have plenty of options for the week! I also love having smoothies for dinner sometimes, when I’m not that hungry at night and craving something sweet.
How do you plan meals for the week?