Last weekend, in a blind panic over finances and our grocery budget, I sat down and wrote out a list of meals that we enjoy, trying for variety and seasonal-appropriateness. Then I wrote a grocery list that included the ingredients for all those meals, as well as the things we need for breakfasts, snacks, and so forth.
Our family meal requirements are simultaneously simple and complicated:
- I am a vegetarian; Will is not. He does eat vegetarian meals, however.
- I am pregnant and so require protein at every meal.
- Sam is three. He thinks a meal = sausage.
- We have very little money, prefer to buy locally, and most produce must be organic.
- Besides avoiding chemicals, we also like to eat foods that are good for our bodies.
- But we are really into comfort food.
- Will takes lunch to work every day, so leftovers are essential.
So I had to work with all of those things. Not too hard for me, since it’s what I am used to. This is the list of meals I came up with, followed by some commentary on meal planning.
MEAL #1 — roasted chicken, falafel, flat bread, tzatziki, tahini sauce
MEAL #2 — spaghetti/ravioli with red sauce, sausage, and homemade bread
MEAL #3 — anti-pasto
MEAL #4 — homemade pizza
MEAL #5 — grilled onions and peppers with sausage/tofu
MEAL #6 — brown rice, red beans, steamed kale + squash
MEAL #7 — sushi in a bowl: seasoned sticky rice, cucumber, carrot, tofu, toasted nori
MEAL #8 — jerk chicken/tofu with cornbread
MEAL #9 — awaze tibs (Ethiopian curry with beef/tofu/beans)
MEAL #10 — veggie burgers with homemade pickles
(Some of these are to include a vegetable or other side TBD.)
So far we’ve made about half of these, and every day Will has had leftovers of some variety or other to take to work. Every meal has been delicious, and while there has been prep involved it has been stress-free because I do not have to decide what to make beyond choosing something from the list. On days that we eat something Sam won’t touch (not many so far), I make him a piece of Italian sausage or pasta/rice and tofu.
I’m sure that this is all really obvious to many of you. I feel like it should have been to me. But I’ve always pictured meal planning as much more structured. You know, fish on Mondays (never have the fish on Monday), stir-fry on Tuesdays, et cetera. It never occurred to me that it could be done in a way that suited our lifestyle. Again with the “Duh.”
If any of you meal plan, I’d love to know how you do it. And if you’re curious about it, feel free to ask questions. I have been doing it for one whole week so I am totally an expert.