Planning. Planning, in general, is probably one of my most favorite things to do in life. I plan EVERYTHING out. Just ask my husband-sometimes I plan so much it actually gets annoying. I just recently got married and the family I married into says I am one of the biggest planners they know. When I was dating my now husband, I was told by his family and friends that I just met the man of my dreams because he loves planning too. Little did they know I would out plan him by miles. My husband’s college roommate even said he’s never met a bigger planner than me. So, all that to say-I love planning.
It makes me feel so organized and just feel like “I have my life put together” whether I actually do or don’t ha-ha
I plan things out almost to the minute, but I’ll spare you from all those boring details today and just share with you how I go about my meal planning or what others may call “meal prepping.” But first, here are some background reasons to help you understand why I meal plan/prep the way I do-which you will read about below.
First, cooking used to be very overwhelming for me and to be honest it still is overwhelming at times, but I have found ways that work for me to make it more manageable. It just seems like I was always making so much food and then it all got eaten so fast. I felt like I was always going grocery shopping and cooking. That’s what all my free time was consumed of and it was overwhelming and exhausting.
Second, I used to hate cooking. It was never a passion of mine and again to be honest I still wouldn’t call it a passion of mine, but I have found new ways to enjoy cooking. I love seeing my husbands face get all lit up when I cook a flavorful and delicious meal. You have to find the little things in life that bring you joy.
Third, I am an extremely picky eater and I have had to find creative ways to cook to meet my macro-nutrient requirements each day. Here is the trick part. Not only am I a picky eater with the exact foods I eat, but I am picky in the sense that I don’t like repeatedly eating the same meals over and over. I tried that once- eating straight chicken, green beans and potatoes for both lunch and dinner day in and day out. It didn’t work for me. Talk about boring and repetitive. I actually became disgusted with the thought of chicken for a period of time that’s how sick of it I was. So, no thank you. My husband is like that and there are definitely parts of me that are jealous he can eat the same thing everyday. But I am who I am and I gotta embrace that 🙂
Fourth, being lactose intolerant has really had to make me get creative. Head to my post “and you thought you loved dairy” to read about my transition to a dairy free lifestyle.
Alright, now to the good stuff! Based on my research and reading through lots of articles, I have found that most people suggest cooking everything in one sitting and then packaging it all up into separate containers for the week. I tried this method for quite some time. Every Sunday, my (then) boyfriend and I would go to the grocery store, purchase all our food, and spend our Sunday afternoons cooking away. We would cook enough chicken, veggies, and carbs for him and I for both lunch and dinner for everyday of the week.
Like I said earlier, meal prepping made me feel overwhelmed. I got so overwhelmed by the amount of food in front of our faces that we had to cook that night. It seemed to take up our entire Sundays and I began to really hate that. I felt like our day of rest was just spent in the kitchen cooking ALL DAY long. It did not create a happy environment for me and definitely didn’t help instill any kind of passion for cooking for me. It was just a task that had to get done. Another thing to check off the checklist. It was boring and mundane and it didn’t allow for me to get creative with my cooking.
When I did try to get creative and cook 4 or 5 different full on meals on a single Sunday then that took up even more time. Overall, this kind of meal prepping was not for me and I really began to hate cooking.
I worried about what I was going to do the rest of my life.
I was about to get married to my (then) boyfriend and I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to provide for him in a cooking sense. I was worried that I would be a bad wife. I was worried that I would never like cooking and that I would always just see it as a chore. I was worried I would become so sick of everything I ate. So much worrying was going on inside myself. I knew I needed to make a change.
I sat down and pondered on how I can still meal prep, but make it not so overwhelming for me. I wanted to make it more fun and I wanted to get more creative with my meals. So here is what I came up with.
- I create a meal plan for the entire month ahead of time
At the beginning of each month, I sit down with my computer and bring up my
google calendar and begin to create my meal plan
- I choose three main courses to cook each week
I sort through my Pinterest page, my tasty account, my mom’s homemade
recipes, my dairy-free recipe book and my recipe book and choose three
different meals for each week.
- I create a google doc
I write out the weeks of the month and then below those months I type out my
three main courses along with what veggies and crab will be served alongside
- I go back to my google calendar and set apart times on certain days to cook each meal
One of the days will usually consist of making either the veggies and/or carbs in
- I create a grocery list
I create a grocery list at the beginning of each week for all the “random” items I
may need based on my meals for that week and then I shop away!
This process allows me to feel less overwhelmed than before. I feel as if my entire Sunday is not being wasted away. I will come home and cook one meal after work and that meal can then last for 2-3 days. It seems to go faster for me by doing it this way and I am able to enjoy the process more.
It is still meal prepping in a sense, but I more just come prepared to the month for all my cooking. I essentially don’t even have to think about what I am cooking for an entire month because I have it all written out and organized on a google doc. At the beginning of each week, I look at the doc and create and grocery list and then repeat the process of cooking the meals I had planned out.
For me, meal prepping is all about coming prepared to the game of cooking. Personally, if I don’t come prepared I become overwhelmed.
PS: My new greatest find is online grocery shopping through the Safeway app and then doing their drive-up and go process. If your local Safeway has this option you should try it out. You add all the items to your cart in the app. You checkout in the app and then select a time to pick up the groceries. You arrive at your Safeway, call the number posted in your app, and a Safeway clerk brings out your groceries! This has been a life saver and a time saver for me and has helped me enjoy the process of cooking even more!