Do you know how many “easy meal planning” exist out there? That’s right, a bit too many – so the “easy” part was probably the “easy” to make it up but as for “will you easily stick to it…”. Well, let me be part of the problem. This one works so far for me. I wish I had more time to put back together the “Just give me the recipe”, but working from home changed a thing or two.
Too bad, because I still use those diagram-recipes, especially the easy bread (that one is a “real” easy: we do this every other week or so). So imagine the level of energy I had for a “week” of meal planning…
Here is how you start: pick a post-it or a random paper from your recycle bin.
Next you will put down the structure – you will pick a minimum of 4 different vegetables, a minimum of 3 grains, and 3-to-4 different protein sources. On your paper write down on the left: Vegetables with 4 bullet points, then Grains with 3 bullet points, and Protein with 4 bullet points.
Then “shop your house” – with the covid behavior, my pantry is surprisingly full of rice, random cans, etc… and my fridge just like many others have a “place where things sit here to die”. If it sounds familiar, this method might work well for you too.
Let’s start shopping in our own fridge – open it up. What do you have an excess of? Let’s say you have 3 types of protein already in your fridge: crab imitation, tofu, eggs. Any vegetable that need to be used before dying? Fill your list with those. I tends to finish last with grain – there is always rice and pasta. Could I find another type of grain, preference for the open package? write it down. So now, observe: your meal plan will use what you already have. Magic.
One more step before hitting the road towards the grocery store. What ingredients are missing? What am I going to do with those ingredients already on my list. Well, simply google it. You have eggs and carrot: google “egg and carrot recipe”, and see what title sounds appetizing with a reasonable amount of vote. Can you see yourself doing that recipe? Is there any other ingredient you need for that recipe? Write down what’s missing on your list. Now write down the name of the recipe at the bottom of your paper, label it “A”. In the ingredient list, write “A” next the the main ingredients. Is your recipe using at least 1 veg, 1 grain, 1 protein? If not, thing about what you could add to have a balanced meal.
Repeat for all ingredients not yet labelled. I typically have 3 recipes (A to C) when aiming at cooking very large portion, or 4 (A to D) when I have more time to cook. never more than that – dont overshoot. There is always a night where we “snack what is left”, and we cook enough to have dinner and lunch boxes.
If you overshoot, the likelihood to have “things that die in the fridge” increases as well. Minimize waste, protect your wallet and your time.
Bonus – add the common item you regularly use – milk, cheese, nuts, flour…
15min. I stick to it. I dont need a fancy system. I have a target for diversity, I use first ingredients I already have, I keep track of the few recipes I’ll do.
Use that list, go buy what is missing. Then stick that list on the fridge.
best part? No more “what do we eat tonight?”. No price on that…