I can break out in hives just thinking about it. I’ve spent my entire married life flying by the seat of my pants in this area. Because of my lack of discipline in planning meals, I have wasted so much food and money, and many times I’ve just driven through the drive through or ordered a pizza because I found myself so ill-prepared.
It’s a no-brainer that oftentimes the lack of planning is the largest stumbling block to healthful eating. And to the budget. It’s an area in which I have been majorly convicted, and though I haven’t mentioned it much on this blog, it has become a big focus, especially since we have moved more toward eating a whole food, organic diet. These foods tend to be more expensive, there is no room in the budget for waste.
As I I have been working harder at getting better at planning healthy meals for my family, the one thing I have discovered is that my plan must be simple and flexible. No complicated recipes or grandiose ideas of spending hours in the kitchen making gourmet meals. It’s just not a reasonable goal. Not for me.
Keeping a stocked pantry, refrigerator and freezer with staple items is key for me. In an effort to be more organized with this, I have created a staple list on my computer (which really needs to be on the inside of the pantry door) of all of the items I want on hand. This way, when I am ready to go grocery shopping, I cn do a quick check of the list to see what’s missing.
Using our staple list, these are some ideas I’ve come up with for easy meal planning.
Breakfast must be quick and easy. Morning is not my best time of day and often Ben is left to his own devices. My husband is usually not home for breakfast during the week, so unless I know he’s going to be working from home, he’s not much of a consideration. For myself, breakfast should always be a green or purple smoothie or fresh juiced carrots and apples. For Ben, I make sure I have a combination of whole grain cereals, whole-grain waffles in the freezer, maple syrup, and organic eggs. On weekends I usually plan one hearty breakfast, consisting of a veggie omelet with raw milk cheddar, whole-grain toast, and fresh juice.
Lunch also needs to be quick and easy. Because we homeschool, lunch is a quick break in the middle of our studies and usually consists of leftovers from dinner the night before, sandwiches or wraps, or homemade soup out of the freezer and fruit.
Dinner is where most of the planning must occur. This is how I have decided to schedule these meals for the week:
- 1 meal out
- 2 meals with meat, rice, quinoa, pasta or potato, veggies or salad
- 2 meals with beans or lentils, rice or quinoa, veggies or salad
- 2 meals with soup or chili, bread, fruit
- baby spinach
- romaine lettuce
- sweet peppers
- potatoes (white and sweet)
- lemons or limes
- various fresh herbs (most grown in pots on my deck)
- organic butter
- coconut oil
- non rBGH whole milk
- non rBGH greek yogurt
- raw milk and non rBGH cheeses
- sliced turkey
- organic, free-range eggs
- black beans
- red beans
- kidney beans
- great northern beans
- garbanzo beans
- diced tomatoes
- tomato sauce
- brown rice
- jalapeno peppers in jar
- organic, virgin coconut oil
- extra virgin olive oil
- apple cider vinegar
- rice wine vinegar
- organic chicken stock
- whole grain cereals
- fresh ground peanut butter
- local raw honey
- local maple syrup
- various spices–cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, italian seasonings, Real salt, peppercorns
- whole grain bread and tortillas
- grass fed ground beef
- free range whole chickens
- frozen veggies: non-GMO corn, broccoli, mixed veggies
- organic, whole grain waffles (sometimes home-made, sometimes not)