Five Ways to Keep Meal Planning Going

A short post this evening — I’m having some internet issues at home, so now I must deal with lost/corrupted drafts and rewriting things, ugh. But, because I have a somewhat good habit of posting on Tuesdays, I wanted to at least keep that going. If you don’t hear from me again until next week, fret not. I’ll figure something out.

Tonight, I wanted to share five ways I keep moving on meal planning despite the many hiccups, bouts of laziness, and other unexpected bumps that can plague a given week (looking at you, interwebz provider 😡).

(1) Not making everything in one day. Some people thrive on getting all of their meal prep done in a single sitting for the coming week, but that doesn’t work for me.

I much prefer staggering the work into smaller chunks: lunches/dinners on Sunday and Wednesday nights, and breakfasts on Mondays, for example, though that’s not set in stone.

Why spread it out like that? Honestly, because I struggle with maintaining high energy levels on a given day. Knowing my personal limits helps me both plan better and work around them at the same time.

Doing all the things all at one time? Yeaaaaah, not so sure about that…

(2) Making a list of meal ideas based on what’s already in the cupboard/fridge. Doing this makes me less likely to waste perishable ingredients, and may even save a trip to the store I thought I needed.

Saving money and gas gets a “plus” in my book, but should I need to make a stop after all, I also walk into the store with a very strict list to follow. No detours to the candy aisle, no extra food items.

Do not go into the grocery store without a list. Furthermore, make sure to eat prior to shopping.

(3) Having a backup plan. Illness, impromptu meetings, or rushing home to watch the newest episode of British Bake-Off can happen when one least expects it. For those cases, I tend to have something tucked away that I can assemble and consume quickly.

This could be yogurt and granola with fruit, or a bowl of pasta with veggie sauce, or a salad with some shredded chicken (or other choice of protein). Heck, I keep a couple of power bars in my backpack for emergencies. Essentially, I need something that takes very little brainpower to prep and less than twenty minutes to throw together that still remains healthy.

In fact, I tend to plan for a couple of meals a week where I’ll need a backup and keep it in reserve. If it turns out I didn’t need a “cheat meal,” I consume those backups on days where I’m batch cooking. When they’re not as perishable, I store them until needed.

(4… or kind of 3b) Expecting things to go wrong. Maybe I burn something, or mess up the sauce, or some of my ingredients spoil too quickly. Sometimes it’s salvageable, and at others not. Refer to point three and use that backup plan.

Note to self: And if it smells weird, dude, just throw it out and save your stomach lining. Don’t be a hero.

When I realize that I still have backup snacks in the pantry…

(5) Treating myself. Meal prep is a difficult habit to get into, and it’s even harder to keep up with at times! Despite how easily one can fall into bad habits of eating junk, having something in reserve for the end of the week dangles the proverbial carrot front and center, encouraging me to keep going.

My go-to treat: a couple of pastries at the market, which then turn into breakfasts in the upcoming week. Works for planning and as incentive. Didn’t do so well one week? Welp, gotta put more effort in on the next, and I save a few bucks.

Dean’s got the right idea. Pie is a great motivator.

(*Bonus*) Forgiving myself. Again, this is not easy, especially when I’m really the only one holding myself accountable.

I struggle with getting angry when I accidentally let fresh ingredients go bad, or I forget about some leftovers at the back of the fridge, or when I’m just so goshdarned tired that I can’t make myself do more than collapse onto a cozy pile of blankets after work instead of making myself cook like I’d planned.

But, though it takes a few minutes to sort through all the negative self-talk, I eventually remember that small missteps are okay, and that I’m only human, after all.

Did I learn something? Can I do better next week?

Yup, and sure. Onward and upward, hopefully without repeating those mistakes.

Actually, Starbuck, I’d rather hear your brain than mine most days, but we can’t have everything we want, now can we?

Any other meal-preppers out there? What tips do you have for keeping up the momentum? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Hopefully, I’ll be back for another post this week. If not, see you all next Tuesday!

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Published by Allie

Foodie explorer with Stardew Valley dreams. Lover of wine but not beer, cheese but not milk, and all things chocolate. Working to learn as many self-sufficient, at-home food production skills as possible.

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