A simplistic approach to meal planning – PART 2

By | June 12, 2015

meal planning part 2

This post is about the actual meal planning. If you have missed reading the part 1 which contains the preliminary steps to do before meal planning, then read it here. Okay, now we have the list of recipes that we prepare, for all types of meals.

Decide on the time span 

While some people prefer to do a bi-weekly/ monthly meal plan, I always prefer to do a weekly meal plan. It’s quite easy for me to plan & buy required things. It also helps me to lessen the food wastage and stick on to the plan. In addition to that, one-week meal planning just requires less than 15 minutes.

Decide on the base meal

My base meal is lunch. This is how it works. I plan mainly for lunch, as my dinner & breakfast are planned according to my choice of lunch. For instance, if there is some leftover curry in the afternoon, then my dinner will be based on that curry. Mornings are also based on my lunch. If I make sambar, I prefer to make idli/dosa/Pongal in the morning. I hope you get the idea now. 

Draft a base meal theme 

Drafting a meal plan will be more realistic, if we stick on to a particular theme for every weekday other than planning to cook specific recipes. This is a one time planning. This theme gives you the luxury of choosing vareity of  recipes under each theme and plan as per. As my base plan is lunch, here goes my base meal theme

SUNDAYS: Biriyani/ fried rice with one/two non-veg side dish.

MONDAYS:  bland veg curry with spicy vegetable fry

TUESDAYS: Tangy & spicy veg curry with a bland vegetable side dish

WEDNESDAYS: Fish curry with fish fry plus one green side dish

THURSDAYS: Keerai(greens) sambar plus a spicy vegetable fry

FRIDAYS: Variety rice with onion raitha/egg fry

SATURDAYS: Super simple curry with a vegetable side dish

With the above base plan, I plan my weekly meals. As I mentioned earlier, this helps me to choose varieties of dishes under each theme. For example, bland veg curry gives me the option to choose one of the varieties of bland veg curries in my recipe list. Similarly, draft your base meal theme and from that you can draft a weekly/bi-weekly/monthly meal plan.

Draft a meal plan

According to your family’s preference, plan your meals. Our family prefers to eat a good lunch & dinner and our morning menu used to be super simple. Here is the sample meal plan from my planner.

SUNDAY:

Breakfast: bread variety – (sandwich/bread upma)  Lunch: prawn biriyani – pepper chicken – onion raitha Dinner: – eat out

MONDAY

Breakfast: pongal – sambar Lunch: – rice- sambar – elephant yam fry Dinner: – chapathi – peas masala / aloo masala

Tuesday

Breakfast: – vegetable vermicelli Lunch: rice- brinjal kaara kuzhambu – snake groud paruppu kootu Dinner: Chapathi – paneer masala /onion-tomato fry

Now, you get the idea. You can extend your planning by adding an evening snack, brunch or whatever you wish to add. But the baseline is, keep it simple and real.

Things-to-do to make the meal plan work

  1. Buy
  2. Make arrangements
  3. Do

Buy                                                                                                                      

Once you drafted the plan, take some time to list out all the groceries needed for the one week’s meal plan and buy it. I used to plan and buy groceries in weekends. If you plan properly and fail to buy the needed items then the plan is not going to work.

Make Arrangements

Meal planning needs a small amount of preparation. It is worthy to spend 5 minutes every night  to go through the next day’s meal plan and make any preparations that need to be done so that the plan won’t get spoiled when you start cooking the next day. I used to do a quick check once I finish dinner and do preparations that need to be done for next day’s meal plan. For instance, if I am planning to do chenna masala the next day, then I will soak it in water the previous night, in order to avoid last moment confusion or change in plan.

Do

Now everything is all set. All you have to do is go according to the plan. So, make it as a decision to go according to your meal plan. Come on, show your skills! 🙂

Few more tips                                                                                                      

  1. Start Small – First, you can start small by planning meals for one or two days other than planning for a week and see how it works. Make a note on where you are lagging and work on it. Slowly you can increase the meal plan to a week/month as per your preference
  2. Stay motivated – For err is human. We are not machines to stick on to the plan one hundred percent. So, don’t be so hard on yourself and get de-motivated if you are not able to go as per the plan. Try one more time until you succeed.
  3. Keep it real & simple – Don’t go for complex recipes that ask for a lot of your effort and time. Keep them treasured for some special moments. You may get overwhelmed if your recipe is complex to make or you plan for many dishes a day. Your motive should be feeding your family with simple healthy meals.
  4. Be creative  – Once in a while, you can bypass the usual meal plan, and cook any one of your family member’s favorite dishes for  the whole day to pamper them & show your love. Okay, I leave the rest to your creativity! 🙂

In general, meal planning avoids all the last moment chaos and gives you a clear plan of what to be cooked each day. It helps you to reduce food wastage. Also, you will have the luxury of trying out varieties of dishes and give a try to different varieties of greens and vegetables. Above all, it saves LOTS of time & energy. Eventhough, the above process seems to be complicated, most of the steps are one time process that helps you to plan your meals easily.

I have shared my way of planning meals and I hope it helped you a little to draft a plan on your own. Feel free to tweak it and make it work for you. 🙂

Do you have any more tips or tricks to add on to this? What is your way of planning?

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