Tuesday, January 23, 2018

How I Meal Plan in Less than 30 Minutes

On January 8th, I started the 21 Day Fix (just the portion control part) and I very quickly learned (on Day 2) that I had to be super diligent about meal planning and prep to be successful.

On Day 2, I thought I had done a great job of meal prepping and being prepared but had a left a few things to do in the morning. On this particular Tuesday, I had to get to the office early, drop of materials for a stewardship event, pick up two new hires and drive all the way across town in rush hour for a facilities tour. Needless to say, I was running late and didn't get all my morning prep done. Then I was stuck in the facilities from 9:15 to after noon... with what food I did have stuck in my car. By the time I was able to eat, it was 1pm, my prepped food had gotten hot (there were eggs involved - it wasn't pretty). Needless to say I was a hangry beast driving through that Chick Fil A line...

After that, I got my ish together and week two was a breeze because of it so I thought I would share what I'm doing!

To start, I ask myself a few questions:

one // What do I have currently? The first thing I like to do is take stock of what's already in the freezer that I may have forgotten about or in the fridge that needs to be used by its expiration date. I also keeps a collection of basics that I know I have - corn, beans, tomatoes/Rotel lime, tomato sauce, Balsamic vinegar, etc. Things we love to cook with, basically. I take stock to  make sure I don't need any more of these items, too.

two // What's on sale? I shop primarily at Aldi/Lidl and Publix based on what I need and which direction I'm driving. Most of my basics come from Aldi/Lidl and anything "special" from Publix. I don't always have to make two runs but they're close enough that I can.

Once I know what I have, I find out what's on sale for my main ingredients. Each of these stores have apps that you can download that allow you to track sales and build grocery lists. If I see that chicken breast and pork loin is on sale, I'll try to build dinners around those items. If I see apples are on sale, I'll make those my morning snacks for the week. We're all about saving every nickel this year because we're trying to pay off some student loans so every bit counts!

three //  What's on Pinterest? Okay, I don't always go straight to Pinterest because sometimes I'll pick a dinner that we loved recently that I probably found on Pinterest and add that back to the menu. From there, I go to my boards and start searching. I've been using my Instant Pot SO MUCH recently - I can't sing its praises enough - so recently I've been searching "pork instant pot" or whatever I want to make. From there, I pick my favorite recipes.

four // What do we have planned this week? Before I assign meals to the days, I figure out what nights I'll be short on time (definitely needs to be pre-prepped or Instant Pot) and what workouts I'm doing so I can properly fuel. I make sure there aren't any work lunches or outings scheduled as well -nothing like wasting a good prep on a day your boss is buying lunch!

Once I've knocked out all those logistics, I start writing it down on my meal planner. I'm currently using one specific to the 21 Day Fix that I found here that helps me track my containers. I won't lie, this adds an extra layer to the prep because I have to make all my containers match up and work together the right way.

These are my steps:

one // Dinner first! I plan out dinners first so I know what leftovers I will have (and their container counts). I personally need for dinner to be my yummiest meal of the day so this is how I like to plan.

two // Lunch up next! As I mentioned before, this is based off leftovers. If what I'm making doesn't have leftovers, then I'll have to plan accordingly by adding in prepped options.

three// Breakfast third! I base this off of my workout. I've been working out in the mornings since starting the Fix so if it's cardio day, I go light with a banana or apple in the car in the mornings. If it's BBG day, then I do a protein shake with a frozen banana/spinach added to drink on the way/during the workout.

four // Snacks! I do snacks last based on containers leftover for the day and what's on sale!

Once all the meals for the week are planned, I write out the grocery list (by section of the store....) based on what I still need. My goal is to use as much as what I currently have to build the plan off to cut down on food and dollas wasted.

I know some of this is totally "duh" for many people, but I needed to put some order to my planning or else I would get halfway through and get annoyed, or my shopping list would be incomplete and missing a huge ingredient,etc. Tomorrow, I'm going to share what I've been making and prepping the last few weeks because I've found a lot of really good recipes recently!

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