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minimalist guide to meal planning

save 5 hours a week

If you make dinner at home 5 nights a week, spending 20 minutes on planning can save you at least 5 hours a week. Meal planning takes a few minutes of thought, a little time in the kitchen. The results are well worth it, saving time, money and energy.

minimalist plan

Inspiration starts with fresh produce.

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Survey the fridge and pantry for items you need to use or restock. Break out your cookbooks, or Pinterest to pick your dinners for the week and make a list. I put together a loose plan for dinners, and the rest falls into place. Read on for a sample of a simple meal plan.

Shop once a week for food. You may run out of things here and there throughout the week.

Prep. This is where the fun begins. When you get home from the store, crank some tunes, put on a movie, and get to work.

  1. wash and dry leafy greens and herbs (a salad spinner is your best friend) and wrap in towels
  2. peel carrots, chop or shred them for easy use to throw into salads, stir fry's, sauces or smoothies
  3. freeze bananas (peel, break into chunks, put into a baggie and freeze) for smoothies
  4. leave the following alone until you're ready to use: beets, onions, tomatoes, fruit

Cook and store

  1. roast chopped carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, potatoes, root veggies
  2. rice and/or quinoa - cook a big batch for the week (2-3 cups dry) - use for curries, rice bowls, soup, burritos, salads, veggie maki
  3. soup - make a big batch of soup; squash, sweet potato, tomato soup are all easy and keep well in the fridge
  4. dips - bean dip, hummus
  5. sauces - tomato sauce, pesto

Once these cooked and ready-to-go foods are in your fridge; your kitchen becomes a healthy fast food restaurant. Mix and match all your prepped items - hummus goes on pasta, as a snack for chopped veggies, or in a sandwich or wrap. Rice can be a base for a quick stir fry or stirred into soups to make them more filling.

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unfussy meal plan

breakfast

a green smoothie a day keeps the demons away

  • collard greens, blueberries, banana, chia, cinnamon, water, chocolate protein
  • curly kale, cucumber, kiwi, mango, flax, water, strawberry protein
  • spinach, broccoli stems, banana, apple, coconut oil, water, hemp seeds, vanilla protein
  • romaine, pear, parsley, mango, flax oil, water
  • chard, ginger, apple, coconut oil, chia, lemon juice water
  • purple kale, blueberries, banana, raw beets, coconut oil, flax, chocolate protein
  • butter lettuce, kiwi, pear, dates, water, hemp seeds, vanilla protein

DINNER

I realize dinner is listed before lunch. This is because I start with dinner, cook more than I need and I always have a healthy lunch.

  • butternut squash and potato red curry over rice
  • mushroom and tomato sauce over gluten-free pasta
  • quinoa, beans, hummus, seeds, avocado, pesto
  • burgers with salad and sweet potato fries
  • fajita salad - beans, greens, tomato, avocado, cilantro, lime, peppers, onions
  • portobellos with roasted carrots and mashed potatoes

lunch

leftovers rule - improvise leftovers from dinner to mix and match for lunch

  • curried squash over salad
  • kale, pesto, chickpea, hemp seed salad
  • salad with shredded carrots, beets, walnuts, avocado
  • black bean and rice soup
  • burgers, avocado and tomato over mixed greens
  • portobellos in lettuce or collard wraps
  • pureed cauliflower or broccoli soup

more time for things you love - here are just a few reasons why cooking once a week rules:

  • only have to clean bulky things like the food processor once a week
  • no roasting pans to wash midweek
  • little to no pots and pans to wash, only use them during the week for making pasta or reheating
  • less cleanup - the cutting board is cleaner, knives stay clean
  • leftovers are easily assembled for lunches
  • easy to customize all meals to each family members tastes or needs
  • the oven is only used once a week, saves energy
  • less cooking splatters on your clothes means less laundry

The prep and cook usually takes a little an hour and a half to 2 hours. The satisfaction when I'm done and have a fridge full of ready-to-eat food is HUGE! So is coming home from work hungry, and being able to assemble and heat dinner in 5 minutes.

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