Weekly meal planning is an essential part of budgeting, both for your finances and your health. It’s so much easier to eat chips and leftover pasta salad for dinner if there isn’t anything else in the house that you can easily throw together into a meal that resembles something healthy. It’s also just as easy to walk down to the Chinese place than it is to go to the store for the right ingredients to make your own fried rice on a weeknight.

I meal plan every single Sunday. It’s become a ritual that I look forward to doing usually in the later part of the afternoon. I look in the pantry and fridge and see what needs using soon, or what we have an abundance of right now, and what leftovers are still in there. Then I think of things I want to make based on the above criteria. Anything else I go to my cookbooks, printed recipes or the Internet. This week we have lots of cheese, black beans, squash, and carrots that especially need using.

I write a list with two columns: Recipe Name and Ingredients. Then I list the recipes I want to make, then put any ingredients I need to buy in the next column. Then I take to the Internet in search of coupons that might match with the items I need. Some of my favorite sites are Southern Savers and I Heart Publix. I also Google for other brands that I need that might not be on the other sites to see what they have. I always can find coupons for Stoneyfield, Silk, and FreshExpress (salad mix). Then I print them, make a notation on my list that I have a coupon, then head to the store.

Some days I like to cook a few dishes for the upcoming week, especially Monday’s dinner because I have my lifting class that lasts until 6:45 p.m., so by the time I get home I am hungry and not wanting to expend another ounce of energy. I also need protein to help my muscles build back up into the strong machines that they are.

I never assign days to certain meals, unless I know I have a piece of produce that won’t stay good through the week. Then that meal will get assigned to be made and eaten much sooner. It’s just hard to know if I am going to want pizza on Tuesday. Maybe I’m feeling more Mexican-y and would prefer quesadillas that day. Why bind yourself to a certain meal a day and set yourself up for failure? I also include desserts to probably make, and salads are on there as a mainstay easy lunch or dinner option.

So here is this week’s meal plan for five meals, one dessert option, and hopefully plenty of lunch leftovers:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My grocery list looks like this:

  • Spinach
  • Small block of Neufachel cheese
  • large tortillas
  • quart of yogurt
  • Canned diced tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Grapes
  • Tahini
  • Nestle Quik

I’m so glad that it’s such a short list, because my bank account just can’t seem to keep it up (that’s what she said). Because I know tahini is a little over $7 per tin, I am guess-timating that this trip will probably add up to $35. I’ll also see if the husb needs anything, which I don’t think he will this week, but who knows.

I’ve already made the beer cheese risotto (delicious as always), and I have black beans, chickpeas, and navy beans soaking in the kitchen now. I’ll make hummus later tonight, and maybe those cookies if I feel my energy coming back. I am a bit behind on life today because I woke up with a bad red wine hangover. Stupid pinot noir got away from me but luckily my lovely husband picked me up off the bathroom floor multiple times, gave me plenty of water, and took me to brunch. Isn’t he fantastic?

So in closing, look forward to an action packed recipe week. I want to bring the recipes for protein-y mashed potatoes and Earl Grey cookies here this week, with plenty of photos!