Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Meal Planning for the Week [WIAW]

Meal planning is something that is really important to me.  Like most young adults, I find myself really busy during the week.  The last thing on my mind is making a healthy and delicious lunch for work or preparing an elaborate dinner off of the top of my head.  When I don't plan out my meals, I eat something quick and easy (and unhealthy), so it's been a goal of mine to get better at planning and preparing on the weekends.  I finally came up with a routine that works for me, and I would love to share it and hear your tips as well!

Here is what a typical weekend looks like for me as far as planning and prepping, as well as the tools and apps that I use.


Saturday

Check out Pinterest and cookbooks for recipes.  I have a page for recipes that I want to try, as well as "Tried It and Loved It" for recipes that I've enjoyed.  I try to find recipes that use up some products that I already have an need to use up, so I'll search for things like "Chicken and Lemon recipe".  I also look at cookbooks and my favorite blogs for some ideas.

Once I come up with some meal ideas (usually 4-5 for a week is enough, and then I'll eat leftovers or something quick and easy the other days), I'll write down the meals in my planner and on my pad that I keep on the refrigerator.  I got this as a gift a few years ago, and I love being able to write down meal ideas where I will see it!  In the "ingredient" section, I write down anything that I don't have.


Favorite Cookbooks :
I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook
Cooking with Trader Joe's- Pack a Lunch

Favorite Blogs :
Running With Spoons
Pinch of Yum
Yummly
Pioneer Woman Cooks

Next, I make a shopping list.  I use the app "Buy Me a Pie".  I like this app because it categorizes food and keeps it organized!  This makes it so much easier to shop and make sure you don't forget anything.  Once you get the item, you just tap on it and it puts it at the end of the list.  So much better than having a pad and pen!


Next, I look for savings.  First I check out Ibotta [referral link], which offers rebates on groceries.  All you have to do is select your store, then click on any item you're planning on buying.  Each rebate has a small task (something like watching a 20 second video, taking a survey, etc.) and there are also special badges you can earn.  On this trip, I used 10 different rebates and earned a "Weekend Warrior" Badge and a November bonus just for shopping!  


I also go through coupons that I get in the mail.  Giant Eagle also started doing online coupons that you can add to your Advantage Card.  I go through my list and see what coupons I can add and what coupons I can clip and bring to the store.  This week, I ended up saving almost $20 just by clipping coupons, and got back over $10 in rebates from Ibotta!


Sunday

Go to the store!  I always try to wake up as early as possible so that I can go before the store is too busy.  The Trader Joe's and Giant Eagle closest to my apartment are always packed and it's a very stressful trip, so Dan and I prefer going in the morning.

Once I'm home, I put all the groceries away and leave out any lunch items.  I'll make my lunches for the week all at once to save a ton of time and not have to worry about it later.  I kept it simple this week- sandwich, apple, salad and yogurt. If you want more lunch ideas, check out my post here!


In the fridge, I just stack up all of the items, so that I can throw everything into my lunch box the night before and grab it in the morning.  When I tell myself I'll make lunch in the morning, it never gets done.  Having it ready just to grab ensures that I won't have to buy lunch at work, which (as you should know) can save you a ton of money!

I also make breakfast for the week.  There are lots of easy things to prepare in advance, such as overnight oats, breakfast wraps or sandwiches put into the freezer, or frozen waffles with peanut butter.  For more ideas, check out my post!  I decided on overnight oats for the week with mango and vanilla yogurt.


Finally, I make any dinner items that can sit for a few days.  For this week, that would be the rice salad and Thanksgiving soup.  Since I already chopped up veggies for my lunch side salad, I just save the remaining veggies for Monday's dinner!

Monday

Relax!!  All of the hard work is done.  Just grab the oats and lunch and have a great week.  


Now give me YOUR tips on meal planning and prepping!
Do you use any other apps that I should know about?
What is your favorite cookbook or food blog?

linking up with WIAW!

20 comments:

  1. I love a good meal planning post. Unfortunately, this isn't a day of eats though so I did remove your link from the What I Ate Wednesday link up. I hope you come back in the future and with a full day of food.

    In the meantime, keep on prepping. :)

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    1. Whoops- didn't mean to break the rules! Thanks for stopping by :)

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  2. I always try to go to the store on "off" hours because busy markets STRESS me out. You spend half your time trying to push your cart without hitting people haha. I didn't know about that app for saving!

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    1. It's seriously stressful!! I love how my stores have the smaller carts now which are so much easier to push around, and I buy much less too :)

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  3. This is basically how I meal plan too. Except I don't spend a lot of time couponing. I probably should check out that app, who doesn't like saving money?!

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    1. I used to be really into couponing and fell off the wagon. I started back up and my overall bill has gone way down, plus with Ibotta I'm getting back around $10 for each trip!! It takes time, but saves so much!!

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  4. i am looking for all the tips and ideas, so THANK YOU. I am crazy busy, and posts like this help!

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  5. I used to be so on it with meal prep especially during/after the whole30 because you have to cook or prepare everything you eat! I would go to the grocery on Saturday and come home and prep by washing/chopping my veggies and cooking a lot for upcoming lunches and dinners. It saved me so much time! I learned it from my favorite cookbook WellFed!

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    1. I'll have to check out that cookbook! I'm trying to get in a routine now so I don't even have to think about it. A challenge for sure!

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  6. BudgetBytes.com is a favorite site of mine. She breaks down the cost of each recipe & never uses weird ingredients. I hate getting all excited about a Pinterest recipe only to find out I have NONE of the ingredients. And she's great about letting you know what recipes freeze well. It's great to cook once & have a few frozen portions for later. Especially helpful when I'm away for the weekend & do not have time to shop. Frozen portions buy me a few days of time before I have to head to the store.

    Great post, we plan similarly, but always neat to see how others do it!

    I usually do my main shopping @ Aldi, and fill the gaps with a run to TJs or Giant Eagle if needed.

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    1. I'm so glad that you mentioned that blog! I've never heard of it but now I'm a huge fan. I need to start shopping at Aldi..

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  7. Oh I love Pioneer Woman! I forgot about her. You are so organized, I love it! I can't make all the lunches ahead of time because our fridge can't accommodate that many at one time ha ha! But I do always make the lunches the day before and whenever I cut up fruit and veggies I cut them up for the whole week and store them in big freezer bags.

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    1. I actually keep my sandwiches in the freezer, then stack up all my containers in the fridge! It's a tight squeeze after going to the store, but it works :) We only have 2 in our house though, so we don't have too much food!

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  8. You're so organized! I meal plan and do some meal prep, mostly just for my husband's lunches for the week. I love How Sweet Eats food blog - she has so many good recipes on there and I love her cookbook.

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  9. I love the idea of meal prepping! I'm a SAHM so it's not super necessary for me, but I used to make a huge salad and take some each day when I worked in an office!

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  10. I always mean to meal plan but I never do it. My dog is on a special diet so I meal plan for her..lol

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    1. Selma's pretty easy..we rotate a bunch of Blue Buffalo food and give her one wet food meal a week. I wish my meals were that simple!

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