meal planning + more

April 17, 2011

whirlwind [literally]
yes, this really happened:

devastated lowes in a raleigh suburb – full photo gallery here
amazingly, from what i read it looks like somehow everyone at that store survived, but there were multiple deaths in other nearby areas. something like 70+ tornados (!!!) occurred within this storm system, and there were warnings all afternoon [including one for chapel hill]. i felt incredibly lucky to have been on call, because i ended up spending the afternoon in the hospital seeing consults — probably the safest place possible. raleigh saw the worst of the storm [check out shelby‘s humorous take] but the damage was pretty widespread.

just another reminder of how nothing in this world can be taken for granted — from your favorite home improvement store, to — you know, waking up to see another day. today, i am thankful for pretty much everything.

meal planning 101
there is definitely a difference between the clichéd ‘living like every day is your last’ and living with purpose and intention, aiming for no regrets. in the former scenario, there would be no point in spending precious moments planning ahead for wednesday night’s dinner; in the latter, organizing for weeknight meals becomes a fun + pleasurable process.

all right, that rather terrible segue is as philosophical as i can possibly get on this sunday AM! lee asked if i would share my menu planning routine. since this is typically a sunday morning activity for me, i figured i would just get on with my usual ritual — and take some photos along the way!

step 1: survey the week

an essential step that is often overlooked! while it may seem silly to plan your weekly menu around your yoga classes, there are often some nights that will be better for cooking than others. making sure that potentially late nights correspond to easy dinners [or even better: leftovers] is crucial for making your plan a doable reality.

step 2: get out your materials

sometimes i will use one of my cookbooks, but most of the time my recipes come from magazines [i keep the current issues in a holder by my desk]. my favorite sources: clean eating, cooking light and real simple. sometimes non-cooking magazines like experience life or yoga journal can have great ideas, too.

step 3: [the fun part!] start flipping through

while collecting recipe ideas for your week, keep the following questions in mind:

will the ingredients stay fresh? in direct opposition to the ‘meatless monday’ phenomena, i tend to schedule meat or fish-containing dishes for the very beginning of the week, since salmon is not going to last 5 days in the refrigerator. later meals are more likely to be vegetarian, with eggs, beans, or tofu as protein sources. frozen shrimp is also a great end-of-the-week ingredient.

will i feel like cooking this after [yoga, long work meeting, whatever]? ie, this is where it is important to remember the week’s layout that you went over in step 1!

would this make a great dish for leftovers [lunch or dinner]? in our case, it’s best to do big, save-able dishes earlier in the week for easy packed lunches.

as you find suitable recipes that fit your week, add them to your plan and create your grocery list at the same time. for me, this often involves a few trips to the fridge and pantry to see what we already have. [although i need to be better about this, too — we have a million random things in our pantry right now!]

the end result?

a realistic, doable plan and a shopping list to make a week’s worth of healthy dinners that fit your life. i always leave some wiggle room on friday and saturday nights for dinners out . . . or in last night’s case, in:

perfect call-night/post-tornado meal, if you ask me

have a wonderful, relaxing, and safe sunday! and if you have your own meal-planning tips to add, i’d love to hear them in the comments ♥


  • Reply Sarah March 10, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    scary storms! i’m glad you and josh are ok!

    i follow a very similar meal planning routine – but i usually only make 1 or 2 big meals per week because i have tons of leftovers!

  • Reply Kelly March 10, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    I love your ideas for meal planning! I am not very good at it, but definitely trying to work on it. I can usually plan a few meals to buy for the week but its too hard for me to plan for specific days so far ahead of time!

  • Reply Priyanka March 10, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    Whoa, 70 tornadoes!!!!! So glad that you guys are okay!

    I have almost similar meal planning tricks. First I used to get too overwhelmed planning meals and grocery shopping for them, and surprisingly I spent more. But then I started thinking more on the lines of leftovers, and using one seasonal ingredient and using it for a couple of dishes through the week.

    Reading the reply above to Emily, I see you have registered for a CSA. What are your thoughts about it? Is it really worth, because I am planning to do register for one.

  • Reply Atilla March 10, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    avacado plus tornado equals guacamole great equation

  • Reply Kristina March 10, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    Glad that you are okay – sounds like a very scary system that moved through.
    I’m not quite as organized on the meal planning front, but we do try to be aware of our schedule and the whole "what-is-going-on". Over the past few months, my partner has taken a class on Tuesday and Thursday, so we’ve scheduled around that, eating earlier than we normally do and sticking to quicker and easier meals. I’m also a huge fan of stretching out meals – make extra rice one night and then cook fried rice the next.
    Thanks for your comment about a planner. I actually HAVE one, but use it more to track "what I’ve done" rather than "what I need to do".

  • Reply Liv March 10, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    Stevo was working in the ER at WakeMed yesterday. Apparently they saw 30+ traumas and also lost power. He said it was a madhouse.

    On a lighter note, I wish I were as organized about meal planning as you. Usually I just decide what to make THEN go to WSM. I probably go to the grocery store 5-6x/week.

  • Reply claire March 10, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    We had a large tornado come through my hometown on Friday. The video of it is pretty amazing. It cause major damage to a couple of neighborhoods. The miraculous thing is that the neighborhood is right beside a large daycare and 4th-5th grade school (about 1000 children in all). There are literally homes DESTROYED directly across the street from the school…and the school wasn’t touched. No one was killed here either. We are so thankful that God was providing protection for all those children and the others involved.

  • Reply maggie March 10, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    There is a book that I am going to read (whenever I can find the time) called ‘The Checklist Manifesto." It’s written by Atul Gawande, a surgeon who has written other books too. Our endodontics teacher recommended it to our class and said it was one of the best books she has ever read. It seems right up your alley!!! I will be reading it as soon as I get my little tiny summer break. Happy Sunday!!!

  • Reply chandana March 10, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    glad you guys are fine. just read an article about the tornadoes there. really sad. i guess everyone one of us should do our bit to protect the environment. agree, moments like these definitely make us feel nothing can be taken granted.

    you are a meal planning guru. got inspired and planned our meals for this upcoming week. thanks for the tips.

  • Reply glidingcalm March 10, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    meal planning! oh dang! you are so organized , AND it is INSPIRING.

    also chipotle is the bomb, and I haven’t been there in months. SO NOT OKAY.

    I rarely meal plan……usually just grab what I feel like…..or my boyfriend will head to the store. Of course, I am also not as busy as your house! love the tips tho!! someday I will subscribe to some of those great cooking magazines.

    oh and most importantly, I am glad you are safe. tornadoes are so scary!! Pictures and news like that really DOES put everything into perspective.

    hugs always,
    gliding calm

  • Reply Jumanah March 10, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    Thanks for sharing your meal planning tips! I always regret weeks, which are most, when I have not planned out meals. I end up coming home after work and just munching on stuff and in the end remain unsatisfied! I really need to get into the habit of meal planning every week!

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