Tag Archives: meal planning

Back-to-School Meal Plan {Posh Paleo Bonus}

I am beyond thrilled to be featured in this month’s edition of Posh Paleo Magazine with some of my favorite meal planning tips for the crazy back-to-school season.  As you already know, I {heart} meal planning! But if you’re not as wild for it as I am, relax!  To go along with my article in Posh Paleo, I’m giving you a one-week back-to-school meal plan based on the tips from my article.  (What? You don’t subscribe to Posh Paleo yet? Well, get on it! I’ll wait . . .)

Breakfast – Even if you don’t do a Sunday cook-up, I want you to make breakfast this week.  Why? As I explained in the ‘zine, a big change in morning schedule is a prime opportunity to get off your morning nutritional game and that is a recipe for more nutritional slippage throughout the day.  Head it off at the pass by prepping PaleOMG’s Easy Breakfast Casserole on Sunday.

(Psst . . . while your breakfast is baking, don’t forget to chop your veggies for the week.  You can sweat those zoodles ahead of time, too.)

P&P - Dinner Sign

Below you’ll find your dinner menu.  I’m practicing what I preached and loving my slow cooker this season! I put the Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew on Monday because that’s the night my son has soccer, so move it around if that’s appropriate for you.  Nom Nom Paleo’s Pork Stew is a gift that keeps on giving – it makes SO much leftovers that you can do a leftovers night AND still have enough for a lunch or two.

I also let you off the hook on Friday.  Remember when I said good enough is perfect? By Friday, I rarely want to cook.  It’s the perfect day to stop off at the grocery store for some gorgeous veggies and a chicken and have dinner on the table five minutes after you walk in the door.

I also gave you a favorite recipe that takes too long for a weeknight on Sunday.  Sunday is a great time to make a more involved meal – especially one that will give you enough leftovers for another dinner.  You’ll thank me next Wednesday.

But wait, Vik, what about lunch? Leftovers, my friend.  Most recipes feed my family of 3.5 (my four-year-old doesn’t eat full servings yet) with enough leftovers for one dinner serving and one or two lunch servings, so I’m assuming you’ll feed your crew of 4ish and have lunch the next day for you.

Happy Cooking and be sure to let me know how it goes!

Monday Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew (Nom Nom Paleo)
Tuesday Teriyaki Chicken Thighs and Bok Choi (Fed + Fit) & basic caulirice
Wednesday Grass Fed Meatballs (Grass Fed Girl) & basic zoodles
Thursday Leftover Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew
Friday Big Salad topped with rotisserie chicken
Saturday Buffalo Wings(Against All Grain) & veggie crudités
Sunday Rogan Josh (Mel Joulwan)
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The Ultimate Meal Planning Guide

Hi, my name is Victoria, and I’m a cookbook addict!  Though, to be fair, I think I’m in good company (I’m looking at you Prime Minister Theresa May!).

P&P Cookbooks

This is only part of my cookbook collection.  The “most used” section.  Mostly Paleo, some well-loved non-Paleo cookbooks that I’ve found to be readily adaptable, and some great resource books.  I definitely do not lack for choices or inspiration when it comes to deciding what I – and my family – will eat in a given week.  The problem is really that of a child faced with too many ice cream choices, who is crippled by indecision.

Whether you own one cookbook or, (ahem) twelve, or keep a binder, or Pin the heck out of recipes, meal planning can be daunting.  Before you sign up for a meal planning service (don’t get me wrong – some of them look fantastic!), give my meal planning template a try!

P&P Meal Planning 3

  1. Find a planner that works for you

This looks different for everyone.  My favorite planner is from Refined Side and allows me to plan all three meals each day.  You may only need to plan dinners.  There are a plethora of blank calendars and planners to be found online and, if you want to sketch it out yourself, the back of the flyer about your kid’s school bake sale works, too.

  1. Make a list of what you need to use up

When I start meal planning (usually Friday evening), the first thing I look at is what needs to be used first.  Maybe it’s leftovers from Thursday that we can have on Sunday (or that I’d rather freeze for a rainy day).  Maybe it’s that random half-head of cabbage from the side dish you made last week.  If you keep a deep freeze list, also keep in mind what is nearing the end of its shelf life.

  1. Source recipes for #2 first

Let’s take my cabbage as an example.  I recently made the Bacon and Cabbage side dish from Paleo Kitchen.  The recipe called for ½ head each of green and red cabbage.  Which left me with the remaining half of each (or the equivalent of a whole cabbage) patiently waiting in my veggie drawer.  Sometimes, I have something in mind based on a recipe I’m craving or that came across my Feedly or Facebook or Pinterest feed recently (that was the case here – I made Nom Nom Paleo’s Cheater Pork Stew).  If not, I grab a few cookbooks off the shelf and turn to the index, or run a search on Pinterest (first of things I’ve already pinned, then widen the search if I need to).

  1. Decide what else you want to make – starting with dinner

This step will depend on your mood.  Is there a sale you want to take advantage of (salmon on sale at Whole Foods for $9.99/lb, for example!)? Something in season you want to cook with or that you have an abundance of from your CSA or farmer’s market? A favorite recipe you’ve been craving?  I alternate between these motivations when making my weekly picks.  Or (confession!) sometimes I just sit down and drool over my cookbooks like they’re the Tiffany & Co. catalogue until something jumps out at me.  Whatever works, right?

  1. Go ahead and plan what you’ll do with leftovers from #4

The reason I plan dinners first is that, invariably, the leftovers from planned dinners will usually fill in some of the other meal slots.  If I make a frittata on Monday, I can count on having at least two servings available for a breakfast or lunch, which is two less breakfasts and lunches I have to plan.  This step also shows me when I’m being too ambitious and have too much food planned for the week.  Better to adjust accordingly now than when I have a fridge full of food!

  1. Fill in the gaps

If Monday’s frittata will only give me breakfast on Tuesday and Wednesday, I need to have a plan for my A.M. meal the rest of the week.  By now, I’ve filled in dinners, plugged in a few breakfasts and lunches, and I look for something easy to fill in the last open meals.  Or maybe I want to build in a lunch out with my officemates.

  1. Finalize your plan and notate where the recipes are coming from.

I promise, we are almost there! This step is critical! Nothing is worse than coming home on a Thursday and facing a meal plan that says “Orange Chicken” and having no idea (because it’s Thursday and your brain done 50 million things since you made this meal plan) which Orange Chicken recipe you’d planned for or where it is.  I make a key in the corner of my meal plan to remind me where to find the recipes when the time comes.

  1. Make your grocery list.

Et Voila!

P&P Meal Planning 2

I know what you’re thinking – Do I really need eight steps, Vik?

Well, I do.  I’ve learned the hard way that if I want to use my grocery dollars effectively, minimize waste, while keeping my menu varied, this level of planning works for me.

How do you meal plan? What are your best tips and tricks?