Meal Planning: Quick Switch #002

This week’s #quickswitch has to do with what you eat!

When it comes to making strides toward sustainability, there is A LOT to say about food. Today, however, let’s focus on one. simple. switch.

Take it from this divinity student, my family would not eat unless we had a plan.

In the very least, without our awesome meal plan we would not be eating as well as we do. 6:42 pm would roll around every day and I would look up from my reading and be like, “Uh, takeout?”

Ain’t nobody got money for that.

Ain’t no body made for that either.

Meal planning is a fantastic and (moderately) easy switch to help us eat more sustainably and enjoyably!

Meal planning means...

  • Better food—in taste and quality! Instead of grabbing a convenience food or eating out, planning helps me eat locally, in season, and to my taste! Real food does take time, but planning settles that necessary time into our daily rhythms. For instance, if I have white bean soup planned for Sunday, I know I need to soak and crockpot my dried beans the day before. Easy peasy.
  • Less decisions at the end of the day. Cause another decision is the very last thing we need, amirite?
  • More variety. Planning = no more boring meals on repeat.
  • Less food waste, less packaging…and more money in your pocketbook. Take it from me. I worked in restaurants for two years. I have seen the underbelly of the business. Restaurants produce a LOT of packaging waste and food waste every day. And prices are set to pay for the actual food, the labor involved, and a nice profit. Preparing real food at home means I get to decide (to an extent) how much packaging is involved and whether or not I let food go bad. And, the rule of thumb is the more from scratch I can make something, the less money it will require.  
  • More hospitality. I can more confidently invite people into my home spontaneously because I know (1) what we are having for supper and (2) that we will have enough for supper.
  • More festivity. We celebrate around here. Birthdays, saints days, Fridays, you name it. Meal planning helps me get creative with our feasting!
Silver dollar pancakes for the fast of St. Matthew! Aaron had to take his on the road as a sausage sandwich that night for a our new church. :) Food and memories go together, do they not?

Silver dollar pancakes for the fast of St. Matthew! Aaron had to take his on the road as a sausage sandwich that night for a our new church. :) Food and memories go together, do they not?

My spouse and I plan differently depending on what’s happening in our lives, but here are...

5 Tips for Meal Planning Success

1. Plan meals that are better than takeout.

Make food that you LOVE! In order to eat at home, I needed it to be as good—if not better—than going out. After trying this for a while, I can say that it is possible. It is amazing how even the simplest kitchen techniques can trump, say, Panera or Outback or what have you. It is my goal now, to beat my restaurant “competitors.”

This veggie-lentil chili was so good I turned it into takeout and carried it to work with me the next day.

This veggie-lentil chili was so good I turned it into takeout and carried it to work with me the next day.

2. Plan in types.

This makes planning SO much easier, especially when I first started out. Assign a food type to each night of the week (Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, etc.), and then vary how that looks each week. Week 1 = chicken tacos with guacamole. Week 2 = 5 bean taco salad. You get the idea.

If all else fails in our house, these are the "types" we fall back on. No judging! Alliteration and cheese just work for me. ;)

  • Souper Sunday - we usually make a big pot of soup Sunday evening and use it to supplement lunches throughout the week (or to stock the freezer)
  • Meaty Monday - our menus are largely plant-based, rather than meat-dependent; Mondays are FOR meat in our house!
  • Taco Tuesday
  • Weeeee! Curry Wednesday! - Idk, just go with it. 
  • RomComThurs, aka. Pasta Night...a la "The Lady and the Tramp"
  • TGIF Pizza Party, or Kiddush
  • Sandwich Saturdays - Grown up grilled cheese, anyone?

3. Plan at home...not in the grocery store parking lot. 

I have found that this not only cuts down on my grocery bill, but it also cuts down on my frustration. Take time for meal planning at home where you can check the pantry or fridge for ingredients. Otherwise you will end up like me scribbling on the back of an envelope, in the parking lot, really needing to pee--  

4. Plan with leftovers in mind.

For our two-human household (Barkley the dog says hi!), leftovers are in ample supply. We plan strategically to either eat leftovers for lunch or use them in another dish. This cuts down on labor, waste, and that thing when your favorite food becomes your least favorite food because you ate it four days in a row. Not that that has happened to me or anything...

5. Use a cute chart.

I’m an ENFJ, if that means anything to you. Everything is better with a cute chart. 

Find free printables like the one I used below HERE or create your own. 

As I wrote this post I kept thinking, “Meal planning, really? What is this, Home Economics 101?” Um, yeah. And maybe that is okay.

Addressing home economics can be a radical thing to do these days. That is, if we are talking about actually making home and not buying one.

To be clear, I am not talking about that class many of us took in middle school wherein we learned how to microwave hot dog wieners* and decorate/set table/prepare food on the cheap. Making home is so much more than being a savvy consumer.

Also, to be super-duper clear, I am not talking about something that is relegated to the female sex. Home economics is an important topic for us all.

Home economics is concerned with the ways in which we make home: how we structure our life rhythms/schedule our time, clean house, choose and prepare food, and deal with byproducts/”waste,” etc. and how that can foster good life. Healthy, holy, and world-bettering life.

True home economics affects more than one’s own domestic sphere. Home economics affects our common home—socially, ecologically, and politically.

So, yeah. I am dealing in home economics. Meal planning might not be sexy, but it is a handy tool in the hard work of making home.

*Classes that teach kids how to microwave hot dog wieners are important. Not every kid has access to prepared meals (or any meals) outside of school.The fact that I get to plan meals marks my privilege. Good home economics is done with privilege and injustice in mind. It can be a part of answering the worlds needs. At least part of the answer is always to stop making it worse.

How do YOU meal plan? What are your thoughts about home economics? Have any questions or advice? Let me hear from you!