Meal Planning Part I: Before the Grocery Store

17 Jul

Some of the most popular questions I get are meal planning-related. I am a firm believer in the cliche saying “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” As a dietitian, self-proclaimed foodie, and grocery shopping lover, even have a hard time staying healthy when I’m forced to wing it in the kitchen. Planning ahead, especially when it comes to food, makes for seamless mornings, easy snacks, and {almost} effortless dinners. So here’s a rundown on how I meal plan…

I start by taking inventory of what we already have and make note of any obvious gaps.

Oats!

Coffee!

Bananas!

(3 things that seem to disappear in an instant at our house!)

I also make note of things that need to be used up.

Then I fill in the blanks with our staple breakfast/snack/lunch foods. Yogurt, “milks”, bars, bread, and hummus are some staple food examples.

In the warmer months, a farmer’s market trip typically falls between the kitchen inventory/staples step and the meal planning step. It’s fun to get what looks good without the restriction of a shopping list! (In the winter, I skip this step and go straight to meal planning).

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Farmer’s markets are also great for meal inspiration.

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Next comes what many probably consider the most tedious step- actual planning of the meals. This is also the most commonly skipped step! And the key step! I check the calendar to see what the coming week entails. Does JWD have a late ____ (fill-in-the-sport) game? Do I have an early morning/late evening clients? Any fun plans for going out? I make note of anything that will disrupt a normal dinner time and plan accordingly. Meals with longer prep times will fall on weekends or on days that I have a light client load, quick + easy meals (link) will fall on busy nights, and so on. I also try to mix things up so we aren’t having the same foods back-to-back.

As for recipes, I scan my Pinterest board, cookbooks, and magazines for new inspiration. And I always mix in a few memorized staples for ease! (more on these types of meals at a later date!)

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After the meals are scheduled, I add required ingredients to the shopping list. I make weekday lunches a breeze by planning for leftovers with certain recipes! I use this nifty planner from May Designs, a company I’ve blogged about before.

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(We write our grocery list in code 🙂 )

After my list is complete, I take my book to the grocery store and stock up!

Stay tuned for more!! Thanks for reading 🙂

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