Meal Planning 101

I had been trying to start meal planning (not just buying groceries and dreaming about recipes) for so long but finally it happened this weekend. As promised, I am back reporting to you guys on how it went. 

Lesson # 1 - do not wait until Sunday afternoon to do groceries (unless you go to only one store and take just an hour). I planned my meals on Friday (thank you pinterest) and did groceries on Saturday so I had plenty of time on Sunday. I used a template for meal planning from here.

Lesson # 2 - chop, prep and have everything ready for the recipe before you start cooking. If your recipes happen to share ingredients, chop them accordingly to save time.           

Lesson # 3 - make space in your fridge! Get plenty of Ziplock bags and Tupperware containers ready. Label them if you have a lot of food already in the freezer. 

Lesson # 4 - stick with recipes that are fairly easy to make and can be prepped in advance or will freeze/re-heat well.

Lesson # 5 - Pre-soak and cook grains and dry beans because they will stay well in the freezer. Dried beans are cheaper and better than canned ones as well. Here's what I cooked for this week:

  • Carrot-ginger soup - reheats really well and is delicious. 
  • Mom's savory pancakes - great for lunch as they reheat and transport very well.
  • Black bean enchilada - I prepped the filling and used store bought sauce (gasp) for quick Meatless Monday dinner. 
  • Mo:Mo (dumplings)- froze them in a large quart-size bag and will steam them right before dinner.
  • Stir-fry - chopped veggies like onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms etc in a Tupperware. 
  • Chicken* Salad Sandwich - recipe will be in my book.

*Cooked the chicken prior but assembled the salad the day of. 

It looks like a lot of prepping but honestly it was not too bad. Overall I spent roughly 2 hours in the kitchen cooking (dish washing is another story) and was able to make a few meals for the week. Yesterday was day #2 and I have to say it felt great not having to think or spend extra time in the kitchen. I am looking forward to get better at this and have 3-4 meals prepped for the week. ps. if you are not sure or don't care about Valentine's day just make this ice-cream and catch up on Breaking Bad.  What are some of your favorite recipes for weeknight dinners?  Staying in or going out for Valentine's day?