Tips for Meal Planning Success

We’re big fans of eating out in our household. It’s quick, provides lots of options, and doesn’t require much thought or planning. But good gosh does it get expensive. And if I’m being totally honest, even with the abundance of places to grab a bite literally around the corner from our house, I’ve gotten bored. Yesterday, I stopped by Panera to pick up a late lunch for myself and after ordering a measly half sandwich and a teeny little cup of mac & cheese and then being given my $10+ total (seriously?!?), I was over it. We plopped ourselves down on a blanket outside in the perfect weather while I ate my overpriced food and did some serious meal planning for the week.

For now the goal is simply to not eat out. Moving forward as we get better about planning, I’ll work towards cutting even more costs and eating cleaner and healthier. I’m hoping we can keep this up and I can hold myself accountable by posting our plans here on the blog. To start, I’m sharing a few tips I’ve learned from attempting meal planning in the past!

TIPS for MEAL PLANNING:

1. MIX IT UP: This is key for me, though not for the hubs. He can (and will) eat a ham and cheese sandwich every single day for lunch and be perfectly happy, but I will absolutely and positively fail by Tuesday if I don’t mix it up a little bit to keep things interesting. For lunch specifically - I have to be excited about what I have, or it’s way too easy to join someone else to grab tacos or the aforementioned expensive turkey sandwich.

2. PREP AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE: Last night, this meant cooking a few chicken breasts in a grill pan, making a big pot of quinoa, chopping up produce, and making my lunch for today so I could just grab it in the morning and go.

3. RIP OFF FAVORITES: There’s a little café across the street from my office that makes fantastic salads, but at $10-12 a pop it adds up quick. So, I bought all the ingredients at the store to make essentially the same salad myself. Making it on my own provides the bit of variety and excitement I mentioned before, and while it’s not as cheap as a ham and cheese sandwich every day, it’s still a definite cost savings over eating out.

4. PLAN EVERYTHING: Between breastfeeding and the medication I’m still on for my vision, I am a hungry hungry girl these days (and it shows in my waistline… oh well). Add to that the fact that Adeline goes to bed so early, so we’ve been eating dinner pretty early as well… and then by 8 or 8:30 I’m hungry again and end up eating junk. Knowing that we will likely want that extra something in the evening, we bought a few peaches this week to share instead of wolfing down 2 bowls of late night cereal like I usually do. I also grabbed fruit for afternoon snacks when that 3pm lull hits and I’m still at my desk for a few hours before dinner.

5. TREAT YO SELF: Adeline’s daycare is closed this Friday, so Dan is staying home with her and they’re going to meet me for lunch out that afternoon. Treating going out one day as a “reward” for not eating out the rest of the week gives me something to look forward to and makes me more likely to succeed.