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Do you plan your meals for the week?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 15, 2011 at 7:10 PM

Do you plan your meals for the week and if so what benefits have you seen from it?

B539a8c692e40f6b85cd11d87ec908d4

(160)

on June 18, 2011
at 11:28 AM

I definitely plan dinners - because of unpredictable changes in our schedule, we never know who might be cooking dinner. As for lunch and breakfast, I choose a couple of meals for the week, and have the ingredients on hand. Then, whatever we feel like eating for those two meals, I'll prepare that day. Believe me, there have been weeks when we've left meat in the freezer - when that happens, we can just switch out another dinner...

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on June 16, 2011
at 01:28 PM

Do you plan exactly what you'll eat each day? I've never done that, I've just picked a handful of entrees to prepare throughout the week and made sure I had enough veggies for side dishes. I need to do a little advance planning when I try to manage thawing/defrosting meats - seems like it takes 2 days to thaw in my fridge :(

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on June 16, 2011
at 03:02 AM

There's my girl! I love a good shopping list. It just makes me happy. Peruse my recipes, pick out some good ones, make my list.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on June 15, 2011
at 10:23 PM

Ah yes - alcohol. The cause and solution to all of our problems!

04d349013cb04a6144d8ac3977a7b1d1

(190)

on June 15, 2011
at 09:54 PM

your answer fits me perfectly. My employee and I plan our breakfasts and lunch together. We include leftovers from some of our dinners. We learned last week when we don't plan we end up eating crap. So to stay on target we have to plan. It works pretty good cause I don't have to constantly think about what I want. I could sure drink alot of alcohol trying to decide what I want, LOL!!

Af9537cfa50562b67979624e9007e12a

(1334)

on June 15, 2011
at 09:40 PM

yep, my breakfasts and lunches for the week are made on Sunday. My wife won't eat food prepped more than 2 days ahead however, so we do her stuff every couple evenings.

91c2e2a35e578e2e79ce7d631b753879

(2081)

on June 15, 2011
at 08:28 PM

"Of course, we love to cook, dinner from starting prep to finishing up usually takes 1-2 hours (3-4 hours on weekends sometimes), which ends up being the only/best family time of the day, so it's a lifestyle choice." Sounds like my house. :)

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on June 15, 2011
at 07:47 PM

Yep! I do breakfast, lunch and snacks for the week. Dinner is more up for grabs depending on our schedule.

922038b6c0ca6a051cc4858218931456

(392)

on June 15, 2011
at 07:41 PM

Me too. So convienent.

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18 Answers

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4
8d1ce78fe7071f2f60fd59365bf21cfc

(580)

on June 15, 2011
at 07:37 PM

I do. Maybe not for the entire week, but 3-4 days ahead. Reasons / benefits:

a) Grocery shopping is easy and quicker. I cook most of my meals myself, maybe 1-2 lunches out every week. I also might pick up something from the deli, and I usually have it planned what to get. b) I have different macro targets for workout and rest days, so planning is somewhat required. I save time by using a bit of time with my own spreadsheet, than figuring out meals and portions afterwards with fitday etc. c) I know I'll eat enough (food in general and macros). d) I won't eat too much, as I know what I'll have on my 1st, 2nd and possible 3rd meal of the day (doing intermittent fasting).

C is currently the most important, as I'm shifting from weight loss targets to maintenance levels and strength work. D is more of an issue for rest days, as I'm doing leangains-paleo.

I still quite a bit of scale, but I've been doing it so long, I have become pretty good and accurate enough to tell how muchs a certain piece of different food weighs. Planning is more needed if I cook or eat foods higher in fat, like fish a lot of eggs.

6
Dd017a9b1f2d6a9c220859f780da09c5

on June 15, 2011
at 07:38 PM

Yes, I batch cook on Sunday for (almost) the entire week. Benefits: saves time, money, and ensures I have healthy delicious food ready at all times.

Af9537cfa50562b67979624e9007e12a

(1334)

on June 15, 2011
at 09:40 PM

yep, my breakfasts and lunches for the week are made on Sunday. My wife won't eat food prepped more than 2 days ahead however, so we do her stuff every couple evenings.

922038b6c0ca6a051cc4858218931456

(392)

on June 15, 2011
at 07:41 PM

Me too. So convienent.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on June 15, 2011
at 07:47 PM

Yep! I do breakfast, lunch and snacks for the week. Dinner is more up for grabs depending on our schedule.

5
D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on June 15, 2011
at 09:17 PM

Yes. Failing to plan is a plan to fail. Cliched but true. Otherwise the evil forces of fast food slowly creep into the diet and then metabolic havoc is imminent.

Related to this, I still am a bit on the fence regarding Stephan Guyenet's Food Reward series, but...I find that by planning my meals, the Food Reward of my diet (as I understand) is noticeably lower which is aligned with my weight loss objectives. Note that I do not equate this with unsatisfying meals - far from it!!!

To the extent that my grocery bills have never been higher, I am even further motivated to eat healthy since throwing out the food always hurts my fiscally challenged heart. A week of eating at Taco Bell would be 1-2 days of healthy food in terms of $, so the opportunity cost is much greater as a result when not adhering to the plan.

Cheers! Aravind

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on June 15, 2011
at 10:23 PM

Ah yes - alcohol. The cause and solution to all of our problems!

04d349013cb04a6144d8ac3977a7b1d1

(190)

on June 15, 2011
at 09:54 PM

your answer fits me perfectly. My employee and I plan our breakfasts and lunch together. We include leftovers from some of our dinners. We learned last week when we don't plan we end up eating crap. So to stay on target we have to plan. It works pretty good cause I don't have to constantly think about what I want. I could sure drink alot of alcohol trying to decide what I want, LOL!!

3
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 15, 2011
at 07:32 PM

No, cuz I never know what I want till the moment strikes me. I keep a variety of meats, fish, etc in the freezer n shop daily for the freshest organic veggie or two. Besides, nothing makes Spirit laugh louder than hearing we have plans.

2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 16, 2011
at 05:05 AM

Semi-planned and semi-spontaneous. Like maybe I thought I'd have beef for dinner but a friend shows up with some fresh caught halibut and crab, so I switch! We live out of town so I always have frozen meat, bacon, fish available.

And when I go to town, since shopping is a favourite hobby, I cruise the perimeter aisles looking for things like fresh portobellos that catch my eye and build a meal around them.

Once the garden gets going the veggie part involves a walk outside to see what looks good- yesterday I picked some fresh broccoli to have with roasted chicken thighs and salad.

Life in retirement is a lot less hectic/stressful in the cooking department.

2
Fe198e0c02edd407cdf8c83c0fceaea1

(753)

on June 16, 2011
at 04:38 AM

When I go to the grocery store I think in terms of what I'm gonna eat that week, when I get home I think of the day at first because I'm all excited about my new stuff, planning is going on in my head from time to time and for differing lengths of time since I bought the stuff. Breakfast is pretty standard eggs with some kinda meat. I improvise lunch and dinner but only sorta...while I'm doing breakfast I'm thinking about lunch and when I'm doing lunch I'm thinking about dinner, make sense? I'm only cooking for one, so it's easy not to be making as much food...but I am not a believer that good food just takes too much time to prepare: Today I drove home for my lunch break, leaving me with 30 minutes to cook and eat some potatoes, eggs, bacon and I ate that with some kimchi, it was phenomenal. My friend used to go home on her lunchbreak at school and make a platter of sushi for herself, planned, yes, improvised, yes too. We have our different ways of planning.

2
D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on June 16, 2011
at 02:40 AM

Sure do! Keeps me from wasting produce and meat I've forgotten about.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on June 16, 2011
at 03:02 AM

There's my girl! I love a good shopping list. It just makes me happy. Peruse my recipes, pick out some good ones, make my list.

2
584b785e9c548c9828c26127c01e622c

on June 15, 2011
at 08:54 PM

YES YES YES! I plan my 7 day menu and hit the grocery store with my list of ingredients! It helps save on wasteful spending, as I only buy what is on my list! Eating primal is more expensive than most lifestyles....so anything that helps to eliminate additional costs, and I find that meal planning does that for us.

2
B539a8c692e40f6b85cd11d87ec908d4

on June 15, 2011
at 08:31 PM

I plan breakfast, lunch and dinner for the entire week ahead. Reason/Benefits - we are 1 busy family - I teach 14 fitness/yoga classes per week, hubs owns a barber shop and works 55+ hours, daughter is a competitive Irish dancer... Some weeks never end!

Planning our meals saves time and saves us from the "I don't know what to cook/don't feel like cooking" eating out binge.

Also, my daughter is spending a bit of time with my in-laws this summer who are the exact opposite of Paleo... planning helps me pack her some healthy stuff to take up there with her so she's not stuck with grilled cheese and hot dogs every day (shudder).

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on June 16, 2011
at 01:28 PM

Do you plan exactly what you'll eat each day? I've never done that, I've just picked a handful of entrees to prepare throughout the week and made sure I had enough veggies for side dishes. I need to do a little advance planning when I try to manage thawing/defrosting meats - seems like it takes 2 days to thaw in my fridge :(

B539a8c692e40f6b85cd11d87ec908d4

(160)

on June 18, 2011
at 11:28 AM

I definitely plan dinners - because of unpredictable changes in our schedule, we never know who might be cooking dinner. As for lunch and breakfast, I choose a couple of meals for the week, and have the ingredients on hand. Then, whatever we feel like eating for those two meals, I'll prepare that day. Believe me, there have been weeks when we've left meat in the freezer - when that happens, we can just switch out another dinner...

2
91c2e2a35e578e2e79ce7d631b753879

on June 15, 2011
at 07:32 PM

These days, no - simply because we have a freezer full of grass-fed beef, pastured pork and chicken and are getting most of our vegetables from our CSA co-op and the farmer's market. It's hard to plan when you're not sure what you're getting, food-wise! Having said that, I did meal plan when my children were small, and was quite strict about it. It was very good for our budget, which was very tight back then, and reduced food waste because I only bought what I needed for the week. Also, it was good for us nutritionally, although I didn't think much about that aspect of it 20 years ago, because for the most part it encouraged us to eat seasonally, because that was the produce that was on sale (even back then I was a bit of a food snob and didn't buy much processed crap).

1
D5096ff5baffc0ba5d20b21346414a7a

(1112)

on June 15, 2011
at 11:53 PM

I have in the past worked out weekly and monthly menus. I enjoyed getting all my spreadsheets and printed out grocery lists ready. But...the plan never made it more than a day or two. Now I just keep a good supply of basic proteins on hand...some fresh, some frozen. When I go to the store or markets, I now start with what I find is available for a good price instead of a "recipe" I want to try. I am a modern day hunter gatherer! For instance, yesterday a farmer gave me some frozen calf liver when I bought some ground beef from him, because nobody else wanted it! It helps to have good freezer space to take advantage of good finds. Most of our breakfasts are egg and sausage or bacon based, lunch is usually a big salad with leftover meat from the previous day, and supper is some sort of meat and vegetables based on what I have on hand. I make simple meals using my cast iron skillet daily and my crockpots get lots of use. I cook up extra and freeze for those days when I need fast food.

1
E3c6d84c01a12e2ee1c49e2180d84238

on June 15, 2011
at 09:24 PM

I try and plan no more than two or three days ahead. We plan, God laughs, so food, particularly produce, goes bad if I buy too much at once. Of course, if I find a sale, then I buy extra, throw it in the freezer and try to remember to plan (ha) for the frozen meats a week or so down the road. We're lucky enough to be less than three miles from a good farmer's market so at least it's not a huge trek two or three times a week.

1
Bb1ba0d71083ceaecd3a3b405a977454

on June 15, 2011
at 08:33 PM

I don't batch cook. I just make sure that we have some protein out and ready to cook (or some frozen fish that can be cooked from frozen) and a supply of veggies. I do have a bit of a routine for buying things from our favourite deli (European bacon, for instance) and from the butcher on Friday or Saturday. Our farmer's market opens this weekend, and in the winter our farmer has egg/beef/pork delivery bi-weekly. As for produce, I just troll through the supermarket/farmer's markets when supplies run low.

1
07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on June 15, 2011
at 08:13 PM

When I get busier, I tend to plan ahead less - which results in ordering something paleo-ish as takeout or delivery. When I'm slightly less busy, I'll at least figure out the next night's meal and go shopping for it either the day before (usually just before the store's closing time) or on the way home (there's a few things I can safely buy from the market near my train station).

Optimally, I'll have a list of dinners for the week and do all my shopping on the weekend - but since my wife's been wanting more input into the menu, and she's been really busy, it's harder to get even that list so far ahead of time.

1
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on June 15, 2011
at 08:08 PM

We have a whiteboard where we at least write down the main protein we'll have at each meal. This way on our way to bed we can check out the list and pull the right meat out of the freezer so it can thaw.

Other than that, there's no real planning. Meat+Veggies isn't too hard as long as we remember to have something thawed.

1
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on June 15, 2011
at 08:03 PM

We have tried batch-cooking or planning ahead and it never works. The pleasure in deciding what to have for dinner each afternoon outweighs, for us, the possible convenience of cooking ahead. I will eat leftovers happily, but given the choice, I'd rather eat freshly cooked food.

Of course, we love to cook, dinner from starting prep to finishing up usually takes 1-2 hours (3-4 hours on weekends sometimes), which ends up being the only/best family time of the day, so it's a lifestyle choice.

We started keeping the freezer pretty well stocked so by about 1-2pm we can pull something out to thaw for dinner. This allows us to stock up on quality meat 10-20+ pounds at a time. That usually covers the protein. Then we shop for vegetables about 2x per week or pull them out of the garden. Starches (if any) generally keep a long time.

Lunches for everyone usually end up being leftovers from the previous night, and breakfast is usually cooked in just a few minutes (i.e. eggs).

91c2e2a35e578e2e79ce7d631b753879

(2081)

on June 15, 2011
at 08:28 PM

"Of course, we love to cook, dinner from starting prep to finishing up usually takes 1-2 hours (3-4 hours on weekends sometimes), which ends up being the only/best family time of the day, so it's a lifestyle choice." Sounds like my house. :)

1
0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on June 15, 2011
at 07:54 PM

I don't shop for the week because my produce goes bad (yeah farmer's market 2x a week!). So I may go every three days or so. I have a family and I do the cooking, but I let them pick out the "menu". It makes shopping faster, and much cheaper. No impulse buying.

0
Fa361df4b3f2d5aa13aa6a73dbf8d88b

(152)

on June 17, 2011
at 02:37 PM

Yes. I work and take a course, so thinking about what to eat for dinner when I am hungry does not work.

I find planning my meal makes it easier to buy groceries and decide what to eat. You do not have to be rigid. You can plan your meals while giving your self flexibility on how you will cook it and what you eat on what day.

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