Well, since we’re all stuck at home and a lot of restaurants are having to either close their doors or offer limited services, I figured now would be a good time to share some resources on how to menu plan and meal prep!!! HOORAY!!!!
I, personally, love meal prepping… menu planning is a whole other thing. For me, there’s just something so gratifying about opening my fridge and always having some form of protein already cooked and ready to eat, along with cleaned and cut veggies for a quick and handy snack! I realize that I live in a little bit of a Type A bubble, and it’s hard for me to grasp that some people don’t do this and actually go to the grocery store every single day. Since times have changed, we have to be better prepared to not only efficiently grocery shop to navigate the store in a timely manner, but also ensure we get the items we need so that we’re not having to make repeated, unnecessary trips. So, here are the things that I do every single week to make sure that I’m prepared for whatever gets thrown at me (like having to stay indoors for days/weeks at a time!)
1. Sit down and right out a menu. Have you ever heard that a ‘failure to plan is a plan to fail?’ It’s true! This week I challenge you to sit down for 5-10 minutes and just write down your favorite family meals. And if you’re new to this, keep it simple! Once you have your meals written down, write down the ingredients. BOOM- your grocery list is complete.
Here’s an example of a few favorite staple meals in my house:
• Spaghetti: Spaghetti squash with marinara sauce, and ground meat of choice. (I always serve this over a bed of greens because why not.
• Stir Fry: Mixed veggies that I have leftover in my fridge and diced protein (for us usually elk or chicken), diced up and lightly pan fried in coconut oil, served over rice and topped with sesame seeds and coconut aminos.
• Pesto Zoodles with protein: Zucchini noodles with pesto sauce (I just buy from Costco) and serve with a protein usually lightly pan fried in avocado oil… you could do a ground meat of choice, tempeh, tofu, or even beans.
• Brupper aka ‘breakfast for supper’: Eggs, toast and/or roasted potatoes and/or pancakes/waffles along with sautéed greens.
• Roasted potatoes, protein, and veggies: this is probably the biggest staple in my house… literally viewing my plate into quadrants and just filling the space with ¼ potatoes, ¼ protein prepared any way, and ½ veggies. EASY PEASY.
So, to recap, once you’ve got a menu written down, make a list of the ingredients that you need. Then you’ve got your grocery list.
2. Grocery list. In order to make sure you set yourself up for success in the grocery store, take the extra minute or two to separate your list based on the section of the store the item you need is in. Produce, Meat/Dairy, Aisles… This way you’ll be able to cruise through your list in a timely manner and hopefully not forget things and/or have to go back and retrace your steps to grab something you forgot (since we’re trying to be efficient with our time).
3. Meal Prep. If there are things on your list/menu that can be made ahead of time, DO IT. Set aside an hour or so on a Sunday afternoon just to clean, chop, or roast items that can be made ahead of time. I, personally, like to wash and chop all of my veggies at once and then store them so they’re easily accessible. I also like to prepare some protein (like roasted chicken, salmon, cod, hardboiled eggs) to keep on hand too. It doesn’t have to take a long time, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. The more you complicate things the harder it will be to turn it in to a habit. So start small, start simple. The more you become comfortable with it then you can add in more challenging recipes or steps if you’d like.
4. Get comfortable in your kitchen. So, you’ve meal prepped and now you’ve got to cook. Make your kitchen a place you enjoy (as best you can with what you’ve got)! Arrange things so that they’re easy to access and find and most of all, make it fun!
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are some additional resources that you may find helpful as you get started!
• Cook Once Eat All Week: I refer my clients to this cookbook if they’re getting started in home cooking. This helps you maximize not only your time in the kitchen, but also meal planning and prepping! You’d be surprised how much money you save on groceries too.
• Meal Planning Online Courses: Yes, you really can find everything online! This is an affordable online meal planning and prep course that you can take to help you get better organized and prepared!
• Basic online cooking school: Are you looking to improve your culinary skills? America’s Test Kitchen offers an affordable online cooking school that helps you up your game in the culinary department.
I hope these items help you embrace this new adventure in home cooking. Beyond being able to create healthy, nourishing meals at home, I hope that you’ll see this as an opportunity to bring your family together during this challenging time by creating some nourishing traditions. One of my favorite memories as a child was sitting around the dining room table every night with my parents and all of my siblings. And then getting older and being able to share kitchen time with my family and preparing meals with and for them, it’s just a real gift that we have to come together in that way to truly nourish each other.
So, I wish you happy planning and happy cooking. <3