Today I’m going to run through what I did to meal prep for the week, what I did and cooked, what I spent, and how I got started with all of this years ago. It’s been a trip, trust me, and in the beginning cooking and meal planning was so exhausting and stressful. I actually enjoy it now most days. Side note: Kudos to you working folks out there and parents trying to juggle your time and errands. I spent a lot of years with littles running that schedule and it’s no joke. It’s so much work but we all have goals whether we are focused on them or not so staying intentional, making a budget and sticking to your plan is going to keep you accomplished and moving closer to those goals.
I titled this “Getting Started…” because that’s the mindset I’m hoping you focus on. Just try something new and get started. Don’t get overwhelmed with the whole process right away. Little steps. I’m just sharing the way I currently like doing all of this so just take away what works and helps you. We aim to be mostly healthy but we’re not perfect and not strict about it. Don’t get overwhelmed, just start with maybe a couple changes or one new recipe and go from there. I know folks that like to shop all the stores for all the deals, hunt and use those coupons, and get all the special items they want and need. I hate spending the extra time and gas so I don’t. Between driving up to my favorite Aldi and then coming home to do all the cooking and prepping I spent about 3 hours total and I take my time and tend to dink around. Less stress.
How I Did It:
Here’s a run down on the details:
-I exclusively shop Aldi for my groceries; they’re much less expensive and I love the small store instead of a big huge chain I get lost in for hours. Bring your bags and a quarter or buy their sturdy bags for 10c a piece.
-I use cash mostly to help me stay within our decided budget
-We currently spend about $120 a week for our family of 6 (three adults and 3 kids)
-We have dairy and other food sensitivities in our house so you’ll see I try to do a lot of homemade, fresh fruits and vegetables, etc which also helps me make larger meals for less. We’ve replaced a lot of carbs with rice alternatives and lowered our sugar intake over the past few years, but I did buy pasta and bagels this week.
-This week’s receipt won’t reflect stuff like coffee, spices/oil, other snacks or things I bought recently that I didn’t need this time. For example; we had plenty of lettuce, romaine lettuce, and tomatoes left over from last week for salads, as well as oatmeal and other dry & canned goods in my pantry. I always take what I have left from last week into consideration so that I can use up what we have and really limit waste.
-I’m a stay at home mama right now so I go during the week when it’s not so crazy and can take a quiet morning to cook my little heart out instead of rushing and stressing at dinner time when everyone’s home.
–I cook all my meals ahead; all the meats, soups, I cut up veggies so that our lunch planning and dinner making is super quick and easy. This also helps us eat what I’ve bought and not throw so much away at the end of the week, and keeps us eating and snacking on those healthier options.
Our meal plan for this week:
-White Bean Chicken Chili (definitely enough for dinner and lunch tomorrow)
-Cabbage/Vegetable Soup (enough for two nights)
-Roast & Russet Potatoes
-Chicken Salads w/Hard Boiled Eggs
-Pancakes & Eggs/Breakfast for dinner
-Stir Fry or Spaghetti with Vegetables (depending on what we feel like this week)
The large package of chicken was plenty for the chili and salads this week. I didn’t cook up the ground beef now that I think of it. I can always throw that in the freezer or switch out the pancakes for tacos. My girls LOVE tacos. We’ll add whatever leftovers, veggies or fruits we have for sides too with these meals if we feel like it. I LOVE soups because they keep well, chicken/meat stays tender, it’s usually better the second or third day because it’s all been soaking yummily together in there. We’re also weird and usually eat our thick soups with tortilla chips. This was a lovely idea we picked up from our host student. I love you, Angel! Thank you!!
I always thought we needed a bajillion sides with each meal. I’d suggest just focus on the basic food group needs. The more whole foods we eat too I’ve noticed we don’t eat so much and everyone is fed and happy. We do eat out once a week as a family so sometimes that’s lunch after church or pizza/eating out for a family movie night.
So What Now?
- figure out your grocery budget. (look back and track or decide what you want to spend.)
- evaluate how you eat vs how you’d like to eat maybe based on budget or diet/food goals. (google some new recipes, ask friends for their healthy favs, and pick a couple things you’d like to try this week.)
- decide your stores and grocery list based off of meals you want to cook this week.
- schedule when you’re going to do your grocery shopping and meal prep
- do it!!
- next week look at what worked, what didn’t, what you’d like to do different and keep tweaking your plan. be flexible for changes in life, work, and wants and goals.
Well, I feel pretty accomplished today! The rest of this week will be easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy meal-wise. We have a lot going on the next few nights so it’s going to make it so much easier on our time and easier on my dear hubby on the evenings I have stuff I have to scoot out for.
Comment or message me with any questions. I’m not an expert on nutrition by any means but I’ve found a groove that works for us right now. Also, if you’re local and know me, I’m always up for taking a trip to the store with you. I’ve done that before with friends that were a little overwhelmed getting started and I am so grateful for my dear friend Michelle that took her time years ago to help a struggling, exhausted, full-time working mommy try to get started on this stuff…