It’s Monday at 4:00 PM. You look at the clock again just waiting for that magical hour when it’s time to leave work. Then you remember you have no groceries and no idea what you’re eating this week. Does that sound stressful?
95% of people who leave work on a Monday at 5ish PM with no idea what they’re eating for supper end up eating something more expensive and less healthy than they’d ideally choose. And the other 5% are just monsters. Like who leaves work on a Monday evening and gingerly traipses through the grocery store, picking up 25 ingredients for a 3-course dinner? Nobody!
Here are some easy tips to help you avoid that minor crisis and level-up your cooking routine this week.
Consider your calendar of events, including the meals you’ll eat at other people’s homes and the other social events you’ll be attending — Hello, holiday parties! Nowadays, my evenings are almost always free, meaning I’ll plan to prepare 7 lunches and 7 suppers. How about your schedule? Do you eat lunches at work or on-the-go? Do you meet up for dinner with friends? Decide how many meals you need to plan to cook this week.
Secondly, consider your health goals. Most weeks, my goal is to maintain my weight, which means I need to plan to eat 1500 calories per day. So, if I have some light salads, I also need to have some heavier meals. Sometimes after holiday weeks or vacation weeks, my goal is to eat a little lighter, so consider these things. What is your health objective with your food this week?
Then, you’re ready to write down your meals. I like to always have some easy-peasy meals like chicken, rice, and a cruciferous veggie. I don’t even have to think about how to cook it. I also like to have 1 or 2 more complex meals — when I have the bandwidth — so I can grow my cooking skills. Whatever you enjoy making, write down your exact meals, i.e. this for lunch, that for supper, this for snack.
After you’ve decided what meals you’ll cook this week, draft a grocery list with the quantities and items you need. I use the Notes app for this and keep an organized template in my phone. It looks something like this:
I also keep a list at the bottom of that template of the everyday things that are easy to forget, i.e. coffee beans, spices, oil, creamer, eggs.
…even if you need to hit multiple stores, which I always do. I like to go to Trader Joe’s, The Fresh Market, and Sprouts. But if I go to each one on a different night, that’s as wearing as having 3 social occasions in a row! (Some of you don’t think that’s wearing…carry on.) The point is to plan to take care of your entire shopping list in one trip away from the house, so groceries & meal prep is still an easily-managed task and you don’t resort to eating chicken nuggets & French fries every night this week.
Plan your meals to eat your meats and produce that will expire the quickest first. For example, I eat my salads first, because I like the crispiness of spinach and arugula, but I’ll throw away the bag at the first sign of spoilage. Also plan to eat seafood and fish first, unless you’re going to freeze it. Take your order of meals into account, and freeze quickly-expiring items that you won’t use for several days.
I know these tips will help you, because they’ve helped me, but I also have a secret weapon that I keep in my back pocket for weeks when I know I won’t have the bandwidth to meal plan and prep. Here it is:
Especially on busy weeks preceded by busy weekends, having a sure-fire good, yummy dinner setup delivered to your door is like a life raft in the ocean.
My favorite meal delivery kit is HelloFresh! I don’t use it year-round, but I’d say I use it 4-6 months out of the year — during my busy times. It’s so relieving to know I’ll open the door to find my lime green box of perfectly-portioned groceries and recipes, and both my hubby & I will savor our suppers for the week.
*This link includes my referral code which earns a commission for me at no extra cost to you. I genuinely enjoy the HelloFresh process & 100% of the food I’ve ordered from them the past few years.
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