2

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How to start meal planning?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 07, 2012 at 8:31 PM

I've never really planned meals before and this summer to stay on track, I think I'll need to start somehow. I'll be working 10 hours a day, 4 days a week as an intern at a gold mine, and it'll take an hour to get to the site, and another hour to come home. So, four days a week, I'll be gone for 12 hours. On top of that, I'm taking 3 3-credit courses online to ensure I graduate on time. How can I plan ahead and not fall off due to convenience?

I'm assuming that I'll need to do some weekend cooking to have things around to munch on and ready to grab on my way to work. Are there any sites which have a basic set up for newbs such as myself?

Or, rather, do you guys have any tips or tricks to planning (and sticking to it) meals for the week?

2fd93e91bb14e641a2bac9c6033e84e2

(1614)

on May 08, 2012
at 05:39 PM

This is a good way to start. Personally, I've never sat down with 3 pieces of paper like this- but this is my basic routine, with only the shopping list. If you shop on your day off, then prep everything possible as soon as you get home from shopping- no excuses- then it's done. :)

193b7fb0fec8913d5ebb3b99a04d21c6

(2918)

on May 08, 2012
at 01:52 PM

I agree with this wholeheartedly. I can't tell you how many times I've just eaten out because nothing in my fridge looked good.

782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

(5231)

on May 07, 2012
at 11:35 PM

Sorry, don't know what kind of grocery stores you have nearby -- if you can get good quality fish. Sounds like if you work at a gold mine then maybe this would not be as available.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on May 07, 2012
at 09:39 PM

Thanks for the tip, I just bought the pdf version.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on May 07, 2012
at 08:38 PM

Looking forward to other's responses. Learn to love stews.

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8 Answers

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1
518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on May 07, 2012
at 11:25 PM

Sit down with three pieces of paper. One is your meal plan- put in everything you think you will eat in a week (you get better at ballparking this with practice). Look to the internet, cookbooks, and old stand-by's for convenience. The next one is the grocery list- take an inventory of your fridge and pantry, then construct a list that will make sure you have everything on hand. The third is your prep list- this is where meal planning becomes really convenient. Think about everything you can do ahead of time so that you can just be popping things in the oven or the pan throughout the week. Get marinades going, mix salad dressings, chop/peel veggies, combine ingredients in bowls for casserole dishes or slow cooker, put lunch items in the right size containers for grabbing, hard boil all your eggs and peel them, wash your greens....everything that can be done ahead of time, just get it done in one go. Put on a podcast or a good album, and just dedicate a couple of hours to prep. It will save you an enormous amount of time in the long run!

2fd93e91bb14e641a2bac9c6033e84e2

(1614)

on May 08, 2012
at 05:39 PM

This is a good way to start. Personally, I've never sat down with 3 pieces of paper like this- but this is my basic routine, with only the shopping list. If you shop on your day off, then prep everything possible as soon as you get home from shopping- no excuses- then it's done. :)

3
193b7fb0fec8913d5ebb3b99a04d21c6

(2918)

on May 07, 2012
at 09:11 PM

There's a Paleo cookbook called "Well Fed" that talks about meal planning which I loved. And I swear I don't work for the author, but she really had a great concept of how 2 hours of cooking on a Sunday allowed her to stay on track all week long. Basically she'd brown some ground beef, grill some chicken, partially steam/fry some veggies and make some dressings/sauces. Then she could add meat + veggie + sauce for a bunch of meal combinations.

Another idea is to learn to love your crock pot. I hate food that comes out of a crock pot but most people are in love with theirs. If you don't have one, they aren't very expensive to buy.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on May 07, 2012
at 09:39 PM

Thanks for the tip, I just bought the pdf version.

1
2fd93e91bb14e641a2bac9c6033e84e2

(1614)

on May 07, 2012
at 09:23 PM

You'll get a lot of responses, but I'll just chime in with one thing I haven't heard a lot of people say: Make sure you're planning to eat things you actually like to eat.

One pit I've fallen into is buying things that look "good for me" that I don't love, and then I end up throwing them away, or if I bring them with me, I end up talking myself into eating restaurant food or worse, fast food. So just take a minute and think about your favorite meals and foods you're eating now. Can you put them in a tupperware and throw it in a cooler? Can you warm them up onsite, or eat them cooled or at room-temperature while driving or on breaks? On your off days, make extra portions of those things that are both convenient AND you like eating, package them into appropriate containers, pack a cooler each night before work, and stick the whole thing in the fridge. No over-thinking. You can't fail. :)

193b7fb0fec8913d5ebb3b99a04d21c6

(2918)

on May 08, 2012
at 01:52 PM

I agree with this wholeheartedly. I can't tell you how many times I've just eaten out because nothing in my fridge looked good.

0
707342e3cb97e0fc088917919a154b8a

on May 08, 2012
at 12:53 AM

I'm a HUGE believer in flexibility and being able to adjust my menu depending on what I'm in the mood for that day-- but it's also important not to let items spoil, too. This is how I do my meal planning using a chalkboard in my kitchen: http://www.livefabuless.com/2011/05/fabuless-tip-how-to-make-meal-planning-flexible-doable-and-fun.html Hope you find it useful!

0
782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

on May 07, 2012
at 10:39 PM

I've bought frozen wild-caught tuna at Trader Joe's and defrosted it in the fridge. I can make a good dinner in less than 15 minutes by heating coconut oil in a pan and cooking my seasoned fish 3 minutes on a side. Add a salad and good to go. There's two fillets in a package so the next meal takes even less time to prepare. This is just one easy to prepare dinner, the only thing to plan is to make sure it's defrosted.

782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

(5231)

on May 07, 2012
at 11:35 PM

Sorry, don't know what kind of grocery stores you have nearby -- if you can get good quality fish. Sounds like if you work at a gold mine then maybe this would not be as available.

0
Da8749275ea73cf0b783a94cbc407f81

on May 07, 2012
at 10:14 PM

Check out my Paleo food blog!!! I just wrote a cool post on planning and budgeting! Enjoy and share :)

http://sheshredss.com/2012/04/27/meal-planning-and-budgeting/

0
1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on May 07, 2012
at 10:00 PM

Pre-Paleo I started using Food On The Table to plan and prep meals. You can set up several stores which you shop at, customize your groceries (ie, what you're interested in buying). It gives up to three planned meals for the week, and most of the recipes are peer-reviewed so you'll know if they taste great or not. The free version limits you to three meals/week.

You also might check out Meals Made Easier.

0
Ba09704971e33481f5716c4790648966

(1794)

on May 07, 2012
at 09:38 PM

I usually eat simple.

I buy a bunch of stuff I know I like and that more often than not can go together, then I make whatever I get hungry for.

Chicken, Beef, potatoes, eggs, broccoli, onions, kale, spinach, butter, coconut oil, oranges, bananas, etc.

Eggs, spinach, onions = Omlette for breakfast Chicken, onions, carrots = Delicious lunch Banana and orange = Snack Beef, potatoes, onions, garlic = Stew for dinner

Pretty simple.

I sometimes eat strange combinations of foods because I am not cooking for anyone else, just myself and since I live on a college budget, I'm not looking for anything special.

If you're cooking for more people, the same thing applies. Buy things that go well together and that are easy to prepare. No need to make complex dishes, even though it's fun sometimes.

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