Hiya Sweet Friend,
Picture this: It’s 5PM, you just got home from work, everyone is hungry (including you) and the fridge is a wasteland of limp lettuce and condiments. What now? Frozen pizza party? Take-out menu roulette? If you’re facing this conundrum more often than not, it’s time to end the madness. And it’s soooo much easier than you think.
In this blog, I’ll walk you through the planning process step-by-step AND give you a super snazzy printable planner. Then it’s up to you to make some magic at the grocery store/farmer’s market and in the kitchen. I know you can do it. Especially with my one-page Crazy Sexy Meal Plan PDF by your side. When you begin planning your meals ahead of time, shopping with a handy list, and cooking with the future in mind, your whole life shifts (mine sure did!). Better time management and prepping skills will help you stay on track and turn your “what-the-hell-do-I-make-for-breakfast-lunch-and-dinner?” stress levels way down.
When you’re the conscious captain in your kitchen, you’ll feel better mentally and physically. That means less garbage (and excuses) and more love in your belly. You feel centered and grounded because you’re ahead of the game at home. Not to mention, it just feels so darn good when you’re feeding yourself and your family (if you’re cooking for more than one) home-cooked whole foods and sending them off with super-fuel leftovers the next morning.
Here’s my recipe for meal planning success:
1. Find recipes. Pull those dusty cookbooks off the shelf a couple times a week and pick out a variety of recipes that you think you and your family will enjoy (I usually choose 3-4 at a time so that my grocery shopping trip covers 4-5 days). A simple Google search for something like, “healthy vegan dinner recipes” will come up with more delicious options than you could ever imagine. Oh, and did I mention my cookbook, Crazy Sexy Kitchen? Wink, wink. Be brave and step out of your comfort zone. If you’re a newbie in the kitchen, you’re going to have to experiment. Don’t fret. You’ll find some go-to, crowd-pleasers in no time. Throw in a new recipe each week to keep you and your family excited about coming to the dinner table.
2. Plan your week. Mostly, I eat simple meals for breakfast (a green juice or smoothie, avo toast, oatmeal with berries, etc.) and leftovers for lunch. Dinner is where the magic happens in the kitchen. Cooking double batches of stews, soups and sauces is a major time saver. A couple times a week, I simply defrost a hearty soup and pair it with a symphonic salad. Voila! The other 4-5 nights, I cook — whether it’s a quick 20-minute meal like my Penne a la Vodka or a more involved recipe from one of my beloved cookbooks. In the interest of not wearing myself out, I plan accordingly, probably cooking every other night — rarely more than two nights in a row.
3. Make a grocery list. Use your meal plan as your guide. After you’ve filled in your whole week (or 3-4 days if you shop twice a week like me), make a list based on the recipes you’ve chosen and of course skip the items you already have in the fridge/cupboard. Often, I already have more than half the ingredients in my kitchen. That’s another awesome part of meal planning and cooking regularly: Your kitchen will soon be well stocked and your grocery bills will shrink.
4. Get cookin’ & prep ingredients ahead of time. Now it’s time to prep and cook. If possible, get ahead of the game over the weekend. Cook a couple meals on Saturday or Sunday and you’ll have a couple weeknight dinners taken care of! Make your evenings even easier by prepping part of your meal ahead of time. Can you throw together the sauce or slice some veggies in the morning? Maybe you need to take that chili out of the freezer so that it’s defrosted just in time for dinner. If your partner gets home a little earlier, can he or she get the rice pasta boiling? Get the whole family involved. Make your kitchen a place for everyone to become a part of the cooking process. Let go of control and let your whipper snapper stir the sauce or measure the ingredients. Shake, stir, break all the rules!
5. Sit down for a mindful meal. Light a candle, turn off the TV, and tune into each other or yourself. Experience the flavors on your plate. Give thanks for the good things that entered your life that day. Pat yourself on the back for putting a nourishing meal together like a pro.