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How We Simplified Meal Planning

Lifestyle

I’ve mentioned before that I am not the type of person who can just throw things together in the kitchen and make a meal out of it. On the contrary, I’m pretty lost without a recipe to follow! Over the years, I’ve realized that this means if I don’t want to be at the grocery store every day, I have to be diligent about meal planning. It can be a pain, but when our fridge is stocked and we know what’s coming up, dinner in our household goes much more smoothly!

Photo by Jake + Heather from our Southern Newlywed shoot last year!

After our post-baby meal train ended (best invention ever–we’re so grateful for the sweet friends who made us so many yummy dinners!) and we were left to our own devices again, I found myself completely unmotivated. Looking for recipes, meal planning, making a grocery list, shopping at two stores (we buy produce and meat from Whole Foods and everything else from Food Lion), and then cooking felt totally overwhelming on top of caring for Charlie. After one too many frustrating evenings, I decided we needed to simplify at least one step of that process and came up with our weekly “meal pattern”:

1.  A salad
2. A soup/chili
3. Mexican food
4. Chicken and roasted vegetables
5. A crockpot meal
6. Fish or red meat
7. Eating out/miscellaneous

Most of our weeks ended up looking a lot like this anyway, but something about naming the categories and thinking in terms of “a salad” or “a soup/chili” one at a time has made meal planning so much simpler to me. Almost all of our go-to recipes are on my Healthy Food Pinterest board, but if you have a favorite recipe that fits any of our categories, I’d love to hear about it!

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  1. Richard says:

    I still have cereal night, tofu night or sardines on crackers night. I am looking forward to salad night and especially Tex/Mex night when I get back stateside.

  2. Natalie says:

    I love this! This is a really good idea and helps bring variety to your meals (am I the only one who ends up only making chicken meals 5 days in a row?!). All my favorite recipes are basically from Skinnytaste. :) The skillet chicken cordon bleu is my all time favorite!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    B for D is always a fun thing to mix in one night :) Crepes anyone?

  4. India Hill says:

    This is a great idea! I’ve gotten into the habit of either cooking a type of meat, a vegetable, and a carb every single night (if I’m not eating out). This will make things so much more fun!

    • Lisa says:

      Let me know if you try it! Though the meat + vegetable + carb system is great to fall back on–we definitely do that!

  5. Kate R. says:

    Love this idea! I’ve been seriously struggling to get back into meal planning after being gone for a few weeks around the holidays. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Catherine says:

    This is great! I think we are way overdue for a chili, actually. We have been doing thefresh20 and really like it, but it’s probably more time-consuming than throwing together things you already know you love and know how to make.
    xoxo,
    Catherine
    http://www.classiccatherine.com

    • Lisa says:

      My favorite is the turkey chili recipe from Eat Yourself Skinny! It’s really easy to make and a lot lighter than most chilis. It also has some good heat to it, if y’all like that!

  7. Kristina says:

    I passionately dislike meal planning and grocery shopping. Now that I get most of my groceries delivered twice a month I have got that one covered and I think your simple meal pattern idea might just take of my dislike of planning ;-)

  8. Em says:

    So funny – we recently did something very similar at the beginning of this year!! Great minds :)

  9. Dana says:

    Definitely need some recipe inspiration :/ I’ve gotten sick of chicken, which is a problem haha

  10. Hannah R says:

    Love this! We’ve committed to a leftover night each week in an effort to simplify things (and avoid waste!). If there are no leftovers in the fridge, we reward ourselves with takeout :)

  11. This weekly meal planner has helped us so much: https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/grocery-and-meal-planner
    It is so good to get into a rhythm and routine – especially with food! I like the idea of giving yourself a day off, a miscellaneous day! I need to schedule that in our week – it would help break up the week!

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