How I Plan my Meals for the Week

As a new wife, I have slowly started to become adjusted to some of the new roles that I’ve taken. One of those things that I’ve had to adjust to is cooking every night. I really enjoy cooking, but when I lived by myself, I wouldn’t say that I actually “cooked” that often. It was usually eating popcorn for dinner, eating a salad, or throwing in a frozen pizza. Whatever was easy, I did it because it was just me.

Now that I’m cooking for Andrew, it’s harder for me to justify eating popcorn every night – though there are still nights where I don’t feel like cooking so we have popcorn and pop in a movie and make movie night! At first, I was a little lost. I would come home from work or class, stare at the fridge and freezer and try to come up with something to make. I’d think of something but then remember Andrew didn’t like it or wouldn’t have enough time to make it because we had something going on later. After pondering for half an hour and finally coming up with something, I’d be halfway through prepping before I realized I was missing an ingredient (or four or five…).

It just wasn’t working.

So I sat down and I made a rough list of 30 dishes that I could think of that Andrew and I both enjoyed. This would give us 30 different meals for every day of the month so we weren’t eating the same thing over and over. I could only come up with around 23 off the top of my head (we are picky and boring, I know), so to find some inspiration, I went to Pinterest. I made a board for new dishes and a board for dishes that we’ve made and have been “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” approved.

Note: I wanted to make a list of meals and not just look at a recipe book, because there are dishes we love that you don’t need a recipe for. For example, we love grilled hot dogs and grilled cheese sandwiches, but we don’t need recipes to make those. So looking at a recipe book would not provide me with a meal idea for either of those. There are many more dishes like this. I find the list gives me way more ideas of meals to pick from.

Meal Blackboard

I found this cute chalkboard a couple of weeks ago at Hobby Lobby where you can write in the meals you plan to cook for the week. This was the best find ever and it was only $6! I usually go grocery shopping Saturday mornings, so before I leave I plan out the meals for the week. This way I know what I’m making and can make sure all of the ingredients are on my grocery shopping list. I like to sit this on my window sill – it makes for a cute decoration while still helping me remember what I’m cooking that night. :)

Picking out the meals for the week is now really easy, because I’m not restricted by not having proper ingredients or not knowing what to make. I can easily pull up our list of dishes that we enjoy, which is now way over 30 since we’ve been trying new meals and adding to it, which makes picking even easier.

This also keeps our grocery bill lower because I’m not buying fresh ingredients that aren’t being eaten for meals that I didn’t actually end up making. It also tends to make prep time a bit faster. If I know I’m making tacos tomorrow, I’m going to get the beef out of the freezer and let it thaw. Or if I’m making chicken tonight and I’m also using chicken in the dish tomorrow, I can go ahead and cook chicken for both meals, and then tomorrow I just have to throw it into whatever I’m making.

It’s not a complicated process, but just doing those few simple things have been making planning meals for the week so much easier!

Do you cook a lot? If so, do have a meal planning process or just do it as you go?

13 thoughts on “How I Plan my Meals for the Week”

  1. Sounds like an awesome way to do it! I love the chalkboard! So cute! And sounds like it works pretty well.

    I live at home still so my mom does the cooking so she plans all the meals. Might be a nice idea for planning my lunches though.

  2. That is such a great idea! It makes everything rather organised in the kitchen and you are also eating something different each day, which would be a nice change. I think the chalkboard you got was an awesome buy and it looks really lovely. :D

    Maybe Andrew could also do a little bit of cooking every now and again too? ;)

    1. LOL. Andrew is a pretty terrible cook. When I have had a long day though he does always offer to make spaghetti, or fix me a bowl of cereal haha! thought that counts ;)

  3. Meal planning is such a good thing. We plan out our meals for two weeks at a time, then order all the food we will need for those two weeks online and get it delivered to our flat, which saves a lot of time and effort. Meal planning has also saved us lots of money because we don’t buy random things we won’t end up eating and it prevents shopping at the convenience stores, which are always more expensive. Plus, it’s nice to know what you will be eating for dinner each evening without any stress. Oh and it prevents waste!

    Your little chalk board menu is so cute!

    1. I’m fascinated you get all your grocery shopping done online. Do the grocery stores offer that service or do you use another website?

      I’ve tried Amazon’s Prime Pantry but the prices are almost double on some of the things in the store.

  4. Ever since Tristan and I started school, we haven’t really had the time to make anything at home (besides there are a couple of people who likes to think that the kitchen is a place to talk to the prepper — which gets on my NERVES a LOT, plus it takes it a lot longer to make the food because you have to constantly stop to hear what they have to say – which is annoying). Tristan and I have been deciding that eating out all this time, semester after semester is really putting a damper on our bank accounts. Plus, it’s not healthy. We do try to eat salads and healthier items when we go out, but it’s not the same as cooking at home. I will do anything to cook at home again, though it’s really hard to find new dishes; especially if we haven’t tried it before. We like to eat relatively healthy from time to time and we are planning to stop going out to eat so much. So, we will be cooking more at home after this upcoming week is over (finals).

    I have some meals that you guys might like. I can email them to you.

    1. Andrew and I give ourselves a small budget each month for eating out. This usually amounts to three or four different meals, depending on how nice of a place we go to. We just aren’t able to financially eat out all the time, as much as I would love to – haha!

  5. I love cooking! When I was little, I loved to make dinner with my mom every night. Its a lot of work but its fun. When I lived in an apartment, I went to the grocery every Sunday. I made the dinner for the week (that i wanted) on Sunday night and I just eat leftovers the whole week. I usually go out on the weekends. When I’m really lazy and I’m tired of the leftovers, I just microwave frozen veggies and instant rice and put like an Asian sauce on it and its delicious. Another simple meal is pasta and broccoli with alfredo sauce. (THIS IS SO GOOD)

    I love Michaels and Hobby Lobby, thats a cute chalkboard idea!
    Have you heard of Plated or Blue Apron? You pay a certain price and they send you all the ingredients to make a really good meal. It’s pretty expensive and I think its geared towards busy working class young professionals and their families. My friend has done it and the meals are really good! It’s also a really fun thing to do with your husband. :)

    What are you doing for Christmas?

    1. I love cooking I think for the same exact reason as you. I helped my mom with dinner most nights and it was just fun for me. I liked learning how to make new dishes and it definitely makes cooking for myself (and husband) easier! I like to make big batches of soup like that where we have a ton of leftovers for the rest of the week, but it’s hard to find a lot of other dishes that save well (plus Andrew is so picky about leftovers). What kind of meals did you make that lasted for the whole week? (Lasting the whole week is seriously boggling my mind, haha). We love pasta! I like to put peas in with my alfredo. :)

      Yes, I really want to try Blue Apron! Right now it doesn’t really work in our budget, but once we graduate and get full time positions, it’s something that I would really like to try a couple of times! I like to try new dishes – and it’s even easier when all the planning is done for me. ;) Have you tried Blue Apron?

      Christmas…. we are going home to St. Louis a few days before to visit with family. We’ll spend Christmas morning with my family and then Christmas afternoon/dinnertime with his. Other than that, our plans are still up in the air, but I am very excited!

      1. Yes, soup is a good dish to last for about a week! My sister makes these zucchini lasagna which is really good. By week, mean like Monday-Thursday or Friday. Garlic chicken is a good easy recipe too. It doesn’t taste as good on Friday as it did on Monday but its still edible.

        Yeah, Blue Apron doesn’t fit in my budget either. I have cousins that do Plated so I’ve tried some of their meals.

        I’m just excited for this semester to be over and to have only one more semester of college left!

  6. Ahaha I still don’t cook everyday. /o/ My work can be very demanding, so sometimes I’m too tired when I get off. To make up for it, I cook in batches. I cycle through a handful of recipes that are simple to make and store, cook as much as I can in one go, and store those for the next week. It’s been working out very well for me. I’m not stressing about food as much.

    We eat almost everything with rice. At the very least, I cook a fresh batch every other day. I plan my meals around rice since that’s our staple. Otherwise, I just put together a salad for us since I’m trying to keep us both healthy and fit.

  7. I love that chalkboard you got! It’s such a cute idea and looks really useful for planning. I think that’s a good idea to come up with several dishes, so you have a variety. My husband and I had the same issue of figuring out what to make each day. We often would fall back to the same ideas over and over. We ended up signing up for Blue Apron, which sends us ingredients and recipes for 3 meals every week. It saves us the hassle of grocery shopping and gives us 3 new recipes every time. It’s a bit expensive, but we really like it, and it’s very convenient!

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