Stress-Less Weekly Meal Planning

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It’s 5 o’clock, your on your way home from work and you are hungry. Chances are you will be playing one of these scenarios.

1. You are picking up takeout or have the pizza hut on speed dial

2. You are frantically running into the grocery store to pickup something up to make a quick supper

3. There are leftovers in the fridge

4. You make a meal of pure carbs – pasta, rice, potatoes

5. You have planned ahead and know exactly what you are making

My scenario was either peanut butter toast, cereal, garden salad, soup, pasta or scrambled eggs. Quick and unsatisfying. My cupboards were full of food but I had no idea or patience to make something. Until I discovered the chalk board!

Weekly Meal Planning

Finally the day came that I was fed up with the stress of trying to make a meal and the unsatisfying result. I had an epiphany that a chalk board would be perfect for planning my meals and groceries for the week. So I scoured the dollar store and found a 5″ x 10″ chalk board that is neatly prompted on top of my fridge.

It includes the headings Monday – Friday down the left side with a space to write what is on the menu. So each Saturday or Sunday morning I check out what is in my cupboard/fridge/freezer and then sift through my recipes for meal ideas for the week. Whatever I don’t have, I make a list and do all my groceries on Sunday.

The great thing about the chalk board is my boyfriend knows what is on the menu for the week (which he is REALLY excited about) and can start cooking/preparing if he gets home first. It helps share the load, saves money, reduces stress and provides healthy meals all week.

As an added bonus – since we are only cooking for two, we have leftovers! Oh how I love leftovers!

No Time to Spare

Change of plans…you really don’t feel like making grilled salmon with roasted potatoes and broccoli tonight. No worries. The “meal plan” is written in chalk anyway, it is not set in stone. Here are a few other go-to meals that are simple to make.

1. Bean salad. Get your fibre and protein for the day with a hearty bean salad. Mix chickpeas, black beans, green onions, diced peppers, and italian herb salad dressing for a quick and satisfying salad. Serve with garlic bread.

2. Dressed Up Salad. A salad makes a great meal packed with fibre and quenching nutrients. Dress and load it up with vegetables/cheese in the fridge or canned beans in the cupboard. Some ideas (not necessarily together): olives, sun dried tomatoes, capers, hard boiled eggs, goat/mozzarella/feta cheese, green onions, tomatoes, avocados, canned chickpeas/black beans, almonds/sunflower seeds/walnuts/pecans..

3. Pasta with Produce. There is something about plain pasta sauce from a can that doesn’t quite cut it. Spice up your pasta sauce by sauteing onions, peppers, garlic, and cayenne pepper to add to the simmer. Throw in some olives, spinach, or capers. Top it off with a little bit of cheese.

Stop. Freeze.

I am a total veggie addict and also very frugal. I am freak for monitoring my veggie drawer to make sure nothing is going bad in there. If my spinach or green onions are starting to wilt, or peppers or tomatoes are getting soft they go straight into a bag and into the freezer.

Generally veggies stay 3-5 months in the freezer without attack. This frozen produce is great for adding to soups or pasta sauce. I also freeze my herbs from my garden – parsley, basil, thyme – to use all winter long.

Bread also goes into the freezer if it has been out for a couple days. It nicely dethaws and crisps in the toaster like fresh bread. I have done this with loaf bread, hamburger buns and rolls.

Weekend Relaxation

Weekends are my favorite because I actually have time to cook and monitor my crock pot. I usually make a nice meal on Saturday and/or Sunday and spend an afternoon baking and making soup for the week. Soup is a wholesome and quick thing to take in your lunch (if you work in the office). It is so simple and cheap to make – and it uses up those veggies that are looking for help.

Tell Me

How do you deal with the chaos as a modern cook?

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