A simplistic approach to meal planning – PART 1

By | June 9, 2015

meal planning

Another one academic year has started (in India). Most of us should be preparing/planning every bit  right from buying “back to school” stuff to “what to be sent for snacks” to our kids. So, writing a little about meal planning seemed to be apt for this season! 🙂

To be frank, I don’t plan much for meals. It involves a very little planning and with that I manage to cook for a week. I don’t cook fancy meals. I follow few simple rules while planning which saves me from chaos almost all the time.

This post is mainly for the newbies in cooking and those who break their head early in the morning for what to cook for that day.

Many of us know what is menu planning is all about and would have tried out a lot of plans and would have succeeded in your pursuit.  If we search on the internet, it gives us tons of posts that suggest us a million ways to do meal planning. Here is my story in the “pursuit” of finding a simple meal plan.

When I started to cook, I searched a lot to know about effective meal planning as I was failing whenever I plan ahead. Problems I faced were:

1. Sometimes, the original plan for that day seems to be so time-consuming to complete and in the last minute, I go for an alternate recipe.

2. I cut down few side dishes, which results in wastage of vegetables/meat. (I won’t say that there is no wastage now. But, wastages are considerably low.)

3. Planning new recipes to try that didn’t work as I planned.

In my pursuit of finding a simple meal plan, few websites did help me in that and I tweaked them a little more to work for me. You can also tweak according to your preferences to make it work for you. In addition to that, none of the plans works if we are not committed to stick on to that. 🙂

Okay, now go grab a cup of coffee and sit in a comfortable place with a pen and paper. Let’s start planning! 🙂

The following are the two steps. Next we will see in the part 2 post.

  1. List out the types of meals you prepare.
  2. List out all the dishes you cook under each type.

List out all the types of meals you prepare.

Type of your meal can be breakfast, brunch, lunch, evening snack, dinner. Strike out that you don’t need and add types if it is not mentioned here.  In our home, we prepare breakfast, lunch & dinner. (Brunch & evening snack for kids alone). Step 1 is done. Yep, I said it’s simple.  🙂

List out all the dishes under each type.

This is going to take some time. But, it is one time planning and worth the effort. Take as much time you need to prepare this list. This going to be your master list.

This should contain all the dishes, side dishes, snacks, juices, soups and almost everything you prepare listing your trademark dishes and your family favorites first. My menu strictly consists of the dishes which am confident in making and equally simple.

For example,


Idli – plain idli (List only the items you have tried and tested  so that you won’t hesitate to make it when you plan your meals.)

Dosa – Onion dosa, plain dosa, carrot dosa, egg dosa, ragi dosa, etc.

Side dishes for idli/Dosa- white chutney, sambar, coriander chutney, tomato chutney, etc.

Bread – bread upma, veg sandwich, cheese sandwich, etc.

Side dishes for bread – scrambled egg, tomato sauce.

And the list goes on. As I said earlier, take as much time as you can and try to list out almost all the familiar & simple dishes you prepare for breakfast. You will be amazed to see the variety of dishes you end up with!  🙂


Rice – plain rice, tomato rice, vegetable pulov, veg. biriyani, nonveg (prawn/mutton/chicken) biriyani, curd rice

Curries for plain rice – sambar, mutton curry, rasam,

Side dishes for plain rice –

  • beans fry – plain fry, beans usili, etc
  • Now you get the whole idea. 🙂

Similarly, plan for all the other types you listed in step 1. You may have to repeat the few items under each type of meal and that is totally fine. We love to have breakfast items for dinner. So my dinner list is a combination of breakfast  and  the lunch items.

Leave enough space under each type (breakfast, lunch, etc.) so that you can add some interesting simple recipes you  learn in the future.

Okay, we are done. Now, take a deep breath and relax! We have ust finished the major part of meal planning now! We will see what to be done next in the upcoming post on Friday.

Do you plan your meals in advance? If so, will you be interested in trying out the ones you are confident with or love to try new recipes more? Did that work for you when you plan for new recipes?

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