January 17, 2016

HOW I MEAL PLAN


How I Meal Plan- postgradandgingham.blogspot.com

So today I wanted to share with y'all about how I meal plan for a week. Now, I'm not a hardcore meal planner like some, but I have found it very helpful!

When I was a senior in college I lived in a house with a kitchen. It was my first experience with having to buy my own groceries and cook my own meals. I would scroll through Pinterest and try to find meals to make, but I typically ended up making roasted veggies and baked chicken. And I would honestly end up going to the grocery store every other day to buy things.
I love going to the grocery store, but it's like going to Target I just blackout and want to buy everything.

When Eli and I moved to Portland, I wanted to get more experimental when it came to cooking. After a few weeks of going to the grocery store multiple times a week and literally spending $40-60 each trip, I decided to look into meal planning.

Meal Planning is basically creating a menu for you and your family for a week or so. You make a list of your foods for the week and then go to the grocery store ONCE! PRAISE! 


 I developed my own style of meal planning that works best for me and Eli. Most meal planning formats I found on Pinterest were for mom's with three kids. And most of the meals I was finding were casseroles and a lot of crockpot recipes. I do not own a crockpot and I am not the biggest fan of casseroles, especially eating them multiple nights a week. So I wanted to share my style and format of planning that has worked for me. I've noticed that we have saved money and a lot of time by doing this. 
So hopefully this will help you if you're interested in meal planning! 

Step One: Shop Your Own Kitchen

How I Meal Plan- postgradandgingham.blogspot.com

Before I even begin to plan my meals, I take a look at my own pantry/fridge. I look for the staples: rice, quinoa, veggies, and other items that need to be used. I then will either make a list of the items I already have or just keep them in mind.
When I fist started meal planning, I didn't check the pantry or fridge and would end up buying items I already had. #annoying

Step Two: Do Your Research

I am always pinning recipes on my food board and one of my favorite parts of meal planning is actually finding the recipes. I scroll through my Pinterest, I look through cookbooks and scroll through some of my favorite food blogs (Cookie and Kate, Budget Bytes, Pinch of Yum) and find recipes and inspiration.
Find recipes that use the ingredients you already have in your pantry/fridge.
So if you have rice, search for recipes that use rice.
Find recipes that also do not require you to buy:
1. a ton of ingredients and 2. ingredients that you do not use regularly.
There are some dishes that I want to make, but require me to buy all kinds of condiments so I typically skip those because how often am I going to use rice vinegar. 
Find recipes that are inside your comfort zone
If cooking cassaroles and pastas are more your speed, then go for it! Don't get all Top Chef and make octopus with a beets salad.....I mean, ain't nobody got time for that.
Also find recipes that you know your family is going to love. 
So again, don't make octopus if your family hates seafood. Find versatile recipes that everyone in your family will enjoy.

Step Three: Pick your Recipes and Make your List

How I Meal Plan- postgradandgingham.blogspot.com


This is honestly my favorite part of my meal planning process. I find all of my recipes for the week and I make a word document and make a bullet list of each ingredient that is needed. Most of these recipes have repeat items which is a total jackpot!
And most of the time I will either italicize or not list the items that I already have at home. I usually save this document so that when I'm ready to start cooking I know which ingredients go to each recipe.

Then I make my grocery list! And yes, because I am totally OCD I organize the list by category. This just helps me insure I'm not running all over the grocery store and so I don't miss anything. 

How I Meal Plan- postgradandgingham.blogspot.com

Typically when I meal plan I plan for about seven or eight dinners and I also plan for weekday lunches as well so I will add deli meat, hummus, feta cheese and potato chips to my list.
I almost always go to Trader Joes when I do a big shopping trip because I love their prices. And most of the time I will get seven/eight meals with lunches for $70-80 depending on how bare my panty/fridge is.
Yesterday I bought shopped at Whole Foods and Safeway and spent $80 and have enough food to make lunch for a week and eight dinners. Insert salsa dancing emjoi here.

This week I'm making:
Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin with Cauliflower (did not make pork in a crockpot)
Avocado and Chicken Salad (did not buy ingredients to make dressing using store bought (#lazy))
Tomato "Lasagna" (using zucchini instead of lasagna noodles)
Eggplant Pizza
Salmon with Baked Zucchini Chips (did not buy salmon yet, will buy it fresh the day of)
I really hope this helps y'all if you're interested in meal planning. 

What are some of your favorite meal planning tips?