I've been trying out different types of meal planning (just dinners, dinners and snacks, breakfasts, dinners and snacks, and all meals) and I believe the best way for my budget, and my eating habits is to plan out ALL of my meals. Here's what I've come up with, a plan that stretches meals for a little over two weeks-- getting me through to my next paycheck and still having food to spare.
My meal plan includes 3 breakfast options, 4 snack options, a simple lunch option, and 6 dinner options. I try to pick things that freeze well. My favorite standbys are listed below: (I plan to write separate posts for each recipe. I'll link them here, once they're written)
Monster Smoothies & Peanut Butter Toast
Cliff Bars (him) or Luna Bars (Me)
Granola Bar and an Orange
Sandwhich (PB&J, Turkey, Tuna, Egg Salad-- essentially whatever you want)
Mixed Nuts & an Orange
Celery & Peanut Butter
Chicken & Broccoli Casserole
I also bring a Lemony-Kale Salad with each dinner.
Once I've made my meal list, I go through all of my recipes and make a grocery list of the ingredients I don't have at home. Then it's shopping, prep and cooking time. I like to do this all in one day. It's 1 or 2 days a month, depending on how many people you're planning for. (Yourself, you and your partner, you and your family).
And if all that wasn't time consuming enough for you, I also chop up all of my fruits and veggies for the week so they're easy to grab.
Once all the prep and cooking is done, I sit down with my initial list of meals and figure out how many servings of each I have-- then I make a food schedule, alternating meals and snacks so there's some variety. I hang the schedule in the kitchen where my boyfriend and I can easily see it. And we're all set for the next 2.5 weeks.
I know that seems like a lot of work, but it looks the best for the way our lives are set up right now. Plus, it ensures I don't have to improvise, because we always have something healthy and homemade prepared.
Is this something you could adopt for you and your family? Do you prep anything during the weekend, or just wing it for the week? I'd your feed back on this post. Please let me know if this was helpful, or if you have any questions.