Welcome back, friends! Today is post #2 in my series on meal prepping and meal planning. Yesterday, I gave y’all some tips for stocking your pantry without breaking the bank. Today we are going to talk meal picking strategies. There are a few pitfalls to avoid here:
- choosing all new recipes to try
- choosing recipes with wildly different ingredient lists
- choosing recipes that require lots of prep and/or cook time
- choosing food that will not give you leftovers
So let me share some tips to help avoid these pitfalls, which often lead to spending more at the grocery store and/or eating out because the recipes are too time consuming.
Picking all new recipes to try
I recommend trying 1 new recipe a week. Planning a week of all new meals can be overwhelming and very time consuming. Pick recipes that you are comfortable with making so you don’t have to spend copious amounts of time reading complicated recipes. Try 1 or 2 (at the most) new recipes a week to make meal prepping fun and to keep variety in your cooking. If I get bored with the food I’m eating, I’ll start eating out.
Picking recipes with wildly different ingredient lists
Using common ingredients simplifies your meal prep and keeps your grocery bill down. For up front prep work, common ingredients cut down on time spent in the kitchen and cut down on the grocery bill. If you’re roasting a chicken for one meal, buy 2 chickens at the store and roast both of them. Use the left over chicken for tacos, enchiladas, salads, sandwiches, soups, pasta dishes, etc. Cook in the slow cooker and use the meat for tacos and add BBQ sauce to make a pulled pork sandwich (or even BBQ nachos).
Picking recipes that require a lot of cook time during the week.
If you’re spending time on the weekend prepping some food for the week, the last thing you want to do is get home late from work and have to spend an hour or more cooking dinner. If you need chopped onions for 3 recipes, chop all the onions on the weekend. If 2 recipes require rice, cook all the rice you need on the weekend and portion it out for meals during the week.
Pick food that will leave you with leftovers.
Hello lunch for the next day! Leftovers can be easily portioned out and packaged up the night before to save you time in the morning. Leftovers can be re-purposed into different recipes to add variety to your week. This roasted chicken and vegetable soup is one of my favorites. Roasted veggies are great in soups, on salads, in wraps, in tacos, etc. Roast a couple pans of veggies and use those in multiple recipes.
2 bonus tips:
1. Make sure you use up the food that needs to be eaten quickly (produce on the verge of going bad? cook with those foods first).
2. Cook food you know you like. Seems obvious, I know but I cannot tell you how many times I’ve cooked something thinking “maybe I’ll like it this time” and then the food doesn’t even get eaten the day I cook it. This is where the “1 new recipe a week” rule can help out too.
So, now we’ve covered stocking your pantry and avoiding pitfalls when it comes to choosing recipes for the week. Up next, sample menus for your week of meal planning. Stay tuned…..