Game Changer Meal Planning Tip
Food posts are not something you are generally going to find on this blog. I like to eat food but I don’t love to cook it. There is just always something I’d rather be doing at supper time than cooking. Maybe I’m rebelling more against the forced schedule than I am the culinary art - why do people need to eat so often?
I’ve long been on a quest to find the meal planning solution that works for our family. I’ve tried the big cook and filling my freezer with pre-prepped meals. I’ve tried just making a freezer meal when I’m cooking a daily meal to double up. I was once even part of a group of friends that tripled our recipes and did a trade each month.
Generally what worked the best for me was to just plan out our meals weekly, do one big grocery shop and somewhat stick to the plan. At least I knew what I was going to make and had all the ingredients.
Then I made a subtle shift in that plan and it has opened up SO much time in my week.
I decided that we would try cooking for 2 days at a time. Not to freeze a meal but to eat it again the very next day. So obviously this doesn’t work if you don’t enjoy “left overs”. What I do though is double or even triple my recipe so that we have a full meal the next day but then I often tweak the meal just a little or add a different no cook side dish that changes it up. This also means you can't have your leftovers for lunch the next day and need to keep lunch items on hand. In our family we are very chill about lunch and everyone cooks their own.
It doesn’t seem like a big deal but it means I’m generally only cooking 3 times a week. For our 7th day we’ve started moving into a real low key meal day. We’re from Mennonite background and so grew up with the concept of “Faspa”. It’s a low German word essentially for a late light lunch (I think lol). It probably means a lot of different things to many of us. But it was often buns with cold cuts, cheeses, and veggies, etc. My family is a huge fan of the charcuterie board so we’ve made Sunday supper a Faspa Charcuterie affair and it’s awesome.
By being intentional about it, I have what we need on hand. It’s no cooking and my husband and I just cut up what we need to and create a spread on the island that we all grab from and we just enjoy our meal - no cooking!
The instant pot has also been a game changer for our family. I love that thing. When I first bought it I made myself cook with it at least once a day for 2 weeks so that I’d get the learning curve out of the way quickly lol. It worked! It’s also really large which means that I can make huge recipes in it.
One thing I’ve been working towards is to lessen the meat in our diet. I have nothing against meat, I love it. It is however expensive and there are a lot of health benefits to reducing your meat intake. A strategy that is really working for us is when I double a recipe I don’t double the meat but add more vegetables instead. So if I’m making hamburger soup I’ll use 1 lb of ground beef but still fill an 8 qt pot with veggies. Not one person in my family has noticed!
Here’s a sample weekly meal plan for us :
Monday - Hamburger Soup with French Bread
Tuesday - Hamburger Soup with Cheese Bread (Jalepeno Havarti melted on Rosemary Foccacia)
Wednesday - Butter Chicken and Rice with cut veggies
Thursday - Butter Chicken Naan pizzas with salad
Friday - Egg Roll in a Bowl with pita chips
Saturday - Egg Roll in a bowl with Corn on the Cob
Sunday - Faspa/Charcuterie
Switching up the sides seems to give us enough variety and I love only cooking 3 times a week. Supper still needs to be prepped each day and put on the table but it takes less than 10 minutes to do that so it’s a win for me!
This may have been a common practice for a lot of people and I’m not sure why it took me so long to figure out but it’s really working for us! What works for your family?