So here is how I took on the challenge of meal planning.
1. FAILED - Option 1 - Buy on sale and figure out menus later.
This was a failure for me. I bought items I thought I would need for meals I thought I may prepare, just to have the food sit in the fridge. The fresh food would start to go bad, so I quickly made a smoothie out of it; and the frozen food lingered. Sometimes I made a great dish, but I usually had to go back to the store for a missing ingredient. Sound familiar? I gave this option a FAIL.
2. FAILED - Option 2 - Schedule out a weeks worth of meals and snacks
This failed for me because it was too detailed. I found some great recipes and great meal plans online. On Saturday I shopped for all of the items I would need to prepare these great dishes. My food bill was over $200! Eeek! With a fully stocked fridge we started the week. I fix a whole food smoothie for the family and mom and Ted make their breakfasts during the week. For lunch I was preparing salads and then at 4pm I was in the kitchen prepping dinner. Phew! By Wednesday I was ready to eat out. LOL!
3. SUCCESS! - Option 3 - Pick 3-4 recipes, prep on one day, eat healthy all week
I found success in using this method. I pick 3-4 recipes that I want to cook for dinner during the week. I make enough for 6 so we can eat the leftovers for lunch. I shop for only the items I need for those recipes, plus what I need for our lunchtime salads and morning smoothies. I can easily stay under $100 per week for the 3 of us with this kind of planning.
Then on one-day, for me Monday, I preset the stage for the week.
- Assemble a weeks worth of salads in a large container
- Mom makes a pot of rice and divides the rice into sandwich bags for easy reheating
- Ted is my seafood shopper!
- I mix up my spices, cut up the ingredients and put it into a container with a little note taped to it saying what to add and how to cook it