Meal Planning by the Week

There for a few months I was doing 30 days of meal planning at a time. I’d spend the last week of one month planning the entire next month’s meals. The anal retentive planner in me loved this system. The real life side of my, well, real life, hated it. Davey the Hubbers was working nights and weekends, so we rarely shared dinners together, and the nights that we did, sometimes he wanted to cook, and the ingredients that were on hand were already pre-decided. Instead I spent each day making meals that I sometimes ate, sometimes took for lunch the next day, and inevitably threw out the next weekend. It was wasteful and time consuming, though delicious and organized.

That evolved into simple food prep for the week. I spent Sundays making 1-2 one dish meals: chicken tikka masala, rice and bean casserole, samosa pie, etc. and grilling a week’s worth of chicken breasts and would roast a variety of vegetables each night… that gave us a few options for our leftovers, kept me stocked with lunches for the week, and allowed some flexibility in my schedule should I decide to just have guacamole and margaritas with my mom one night.

Then I got pregnant and for 3-4 weeks, eating and the energy to cook was pretty hit or miss. Vegetables were the first to go, and in lieu of grilled chicken, dry cereal was much more appealing. Sometimes it was DiGiorno thrown in the oven, sometimes a peanut butter sandwich.

But once we turned the corner around week 10, and David transitioned to a new restaurant and a new role working early mornings allowing him to be home for dinners, I knew we needed to adjust once again. Not that we’re doing anything particularly novel, but now we’re working on a weekly meal planning system that revolves around what protein we’d like to use each night. We’ve been able to easily switch days around, prepare enough for dinner one night and leave leftovers just for lunch the next day, and have more flexibility in how we grocery shop.

I rarely to never eat lunches out, though this week I’m doing so twice. We also eat dinners out usually every other week, sometimes once a week. We follow Dave Ramsey’s envelope system really strictly and budget for our Restaurant category each week, but sometimes we prefer to let it build over a couple of weeks, so we can really treat ourselves. And more often than not, that means an Indian feast. I’ll post our meal plan each week and highlight any new recipes we try (pictured below is shrimp and grits with a spicy tomato sauce and a baked black bean cake that was a highlight of last week’s meals)!
ShrimpGritsWeek of July 6, 2014:

Dinner, Sunday, July 6 – grilled chicken thighs with white barbecue sauce (I halved the sauce recipe and didn’t add the horseradish, and we really liked it), grilled corn (in the husk), roasted broccoli
Lunch, Monday, July 7 – grilled chicken thigh with white barbecue sauce, corn cut off the cob, roasted broccoli (I love broccoli prepped this way, though this little baby is still not real sure about it… we force ourselves to eat it but I’m hoping my love for it comes back soon)
Dinner, Monday, July 7 – smoked sausage, sauteed shallot and zucchini, parmesan frittata (I used the cooking instructions from this recipe, but I used 8 eggs and simply sauteed quartered rounds of smoked sausage, drained them on a paper towel, and added diced shallot and quartered rounds of zucchini to the pan the sausage cooked in, then added it all to the beaten eggs, dash of cream, salt and pepper and generous parmesan and shredded cheddar mixture)
Lunch, Tuesday July 8 – Frittata (and a handful of Swedish Fish – my Achilles heel) – the frittata was delicious reheated.
Dinner, Tuesday, July 8Shrimp creole over rice, baguette, and side (we’re taking the shrimp creole, rice and bread over to a friend’s house for dinner tonight, and she’s supplying our side dish and beer, or water, in my case).
Lunch, Wednesday, July 9 – Out to lunch with coworkers.
Dinner, Wednesday, July 9 – Grilled hanger steaks, Trader Joe’s grain blend, crispy kale (this will be David’s night to handle dinner, and his combination nearly always blow mine out of the water).
Lunch, Thursday, July 10 – Shrimp creole, most likely. I doubled the recipe in order to feed us and our friends and ensure leftovers. It also reheats marvelously.
Dinner, Thursday, July 10 – One of our favorites, chicken tikka masala – because sometimes you just want dinner to be ready without being too hands on.
Lunch, Friday, July 11 – Lunch date with my guy! A rare and awesome treat!
Dinner, Friday, July 11 – Leftover chicken tikka masala. This is another dish that makes a ton, but you won’t hear us complaining about that.

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