My 1st Attempt At Meal Planning

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on April 26, 2009


I admit, I have never been a meal planner. I used to idolize others who would write out their entire week’s worth of meals on Sunday nights. Those who know on Sunday what they will be eating on Thursday.

Do people actually do this, I asked myself.

Well, after doing a little more investigative research, I discovered that yes, many people do plan out their meals ahead of time, and *gasp* even use recipes!

I have never done this. At most, I come across a recipe and use it for inspiration because I can’t be bothered to follow all those rules.

However, the downside to all of this spontaneous fun in the kitchen is this:

Monotony and lack of variety

I discovered that since I was not thinking about meals until, ummm I got in the kitchen, I tended to rely on the same, recycled meals over and over again because it was easy.

And let’s be real, that isn’t good for anyone let alone someone who is dedicated to pursuing a healthy lifestyle!

So I decided enough is enough.Today marked the first Sunday that I would plan my meals out for the week.

And this is what I did:

Duration on Sunday afternoon: 50 minutes

I walked into the kitchen with scrap paper and a pen. I decided the best way to attack meal planning (yes, I just said attack. This is war and planning is the enemy!), was to dig out the resources that I have at my fingertips.

1) Dig out the food you already have


I divided up my food into two groups: “Meal Bases” and “Veggies”. Meal bases are things that I rely on. These are things such as lentils, beans, whole grains, etc. If you eat meat, you would probably have some chicken, beef and whatnot included in this too.

Meal Bases


  • Black beans
  • Lima beans
  • Quinoa
  • Red + green lentils
  • Split green peas
  • Whole wheat spaghetti
  • Brown rice

I was quite surprised at how much I had just sitting in my cupboard!



  • Cabbage
  • Red + orange pepper
  • Dill weed
  • No salt added tomatoes
  • organic carrots
  • broccoli
  • green beans
  • sweet onion
  • canned mushrooms


2) Write down what you have



And off I went to the computer!

3) Dig up old bookmarked recipes. Re-evaluate.


Luckily I was 2 for 5 because I already had 2 recipes bookmarked that I have been meaning to try. But that didn’t mean I was going to make them of course. I re-evaluated the recipes to see if I still wanted to make them and if I had the necessary ingredients.

a) Green Bean Casserole

I don’t have soy creamer and I don’t have sherry or french fried onions. But that is ok. I am going to make an inspired version of this casserole without having to run out to the store. I will use what I have and it will be just fine…promise! This is where the free-spirit cook in me gets to come out and play.

b) Bean and mushroom burgers

I love beans and I love mushrooms, why haven’t I ever had these two ingredients meet? It is beyond me. I like the concept of this recipe. It is a good foundation, but I already have plans to modify it. I will be reducing the butter, oil, and I won’t be using mayo. Oh, and I am using canned mushrooms since I have those on hand. Repeat after me: It is ok to change recipes! :)

So there.

I already have two nights out of 5 decided upon.

For the other three, I hit up one of my favourite websites.

4) Visit All Recipes and type in the ingredients you have and the ingredients you don’t have. Click. Poof. Instant meals ideas.



Look over the recipes. Accept nothing less than 4.5 stars. I’m joking, I’m joking. With that being said, I usually don’t click on things without a picture. Obviously, I never took to heart the saying ‘Never judge a book by it’s cover’….errr lack of cover.

After some detective work, I found 2 more suitable recipes for this week. One night is going to be a BBQ with the boys, so that is sort of a ‘free’ night.


5) Plan what nights you will have each meal and record in your to-do list or on a calendar. Whatever works!


Click to enlarge:


I entered all of mine in Todoist. I created a special section called ‘Recipes to Make’. I can plan out meals and also ‘bookmark’ recipes that I want to try. When I make them, I will cross it off.

So there we have the full week of dinner’s planned:

  • Monday: Green Bean Casserole
  • Tuesday: BBQ
  • Wednesday: Bean + Mushroom Burgers
  • Thursday: Pumpkin Curry lentil apple stew (again lots of modifications will happen!)
  • Friday: Cabbage rolls

The only thing I plan on picking up from the grocery store tomorrow is vegetable broth. The rest I should be able to make with slight modifications and not have to buy anything else.

The best part:

It took me under 1 hour to plan all 5 nights! I am really surprised! It was so quick and easy. And I feel more organized already. I also find that I am really looking forward to some new and exciting meals this week!

It will be a miracle from above if I can actually follow this! Here’s hoping! :)

Tonight’s question: Do you plan your meals? If so, how do you do it? What is the method to your madness? Or are you like me- totally plan-a-phobic? Does meal planning help you eat healthier? Share your thoughts!


Happy Birthday to sweetie pie Caitlin!!

See you tomorrow for my thoughts on Running in the blog world!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

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Tess May 28, 2010 at 8:14 am

I am actually the complete opposite – I love making lists, schedules, plans etc. so planning meals is a crucial part of my day. I generally go one step further though and make my meal plans for entire days, not just dinner. Yup, from breakfast right through to my post-workout snack, to evening dessert. I take into account my schedule for the day, the type of workout I’ll be doing, any special events, etc. Then I make a list of all the fruits and veggies I need to use up (nothing make me more sad than throwing out produce!!) and I go to work. I usually do it at lunch or some time when I’m eating (for the same reasons you shouldn’t go grocery shopping while hungry, I don’t plan when hungry!) It may sound a bit insane and control-freakish, but I actually find the act of writing very relaxing, and it makes preparing my lunch in the morning so much quicker and easier. Cuz there’s also nothing worse than getting to work and realizing you didn’t pack enough food for the day!! lol Plus, it helps me to make sure I’ve gotten all my servings of protein, carbs, fruits and veggies in for the day. Of course, even the best laid plans by mice and men often go astray. The boyfriend will cook something delicious, we’ll run out of an ingredient, friends come over…. but I like having a general idea of where my day is going.


Stacey October 24, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Obviously, most of your followers have moved way past this blog, but I’m catching up.
I just laughed when you asked if people really do plan meals ahead of time. There is no other way for me but to plan. I’m lost when I get in the grocery store if I don’t. You see, the nearest grocery store is 100 miles away and we only go there every two weeks. If I don’t have some kind of plan in mind, then there will not be enough food for everyone to eat. Now my husband hates it because he feels like he can’t make any choices when we get to the store because not only do I have a meal plan with a grocery list to match, but I know about what each item cost to make sure it all fits into my grocery budget. If he picks something up to put it in the cart, I cringe and think in the back of my mind, ok, what item needs to come off the list to accommodate. I am however, flexible in which day we actually eat which meal once we return home.


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