A few months ago, the whole food thing was taking up a discouraging amount of mental space: figuring out what we’d have for dinner (and lunch, and breakfast), buying groceries, cooking. I love food, I live for dinner, but it felt like reinventing the wheel each week.
I thought about how I could get this necessary, and sometimes even enjoyable, job done with as little ongoing thought as possible. Here’s what has been working:
MAKE A TOP TEN LIST OF MEALS.
Here’s our current list:
This salmon with tomatoes and feta (via my friend Ashley, like many of our favorites).
This chicken with eggplant or other roasted veggies.
This lentil soup, which is my lunch most days.
This cauliflower fried rice (add extra veggies to recipe).
This roast chicken with broccoli.
Home-made pizzas with roasted veggies and a salad.
Ranch pork chops, fingerling potatoes, and brussel sprouts (with homemade apple sauce if I have time, and sauerkraut). As simple as sprinkling dry ranch powder on top of a cookie sheet.
Chicken noodle soup with rotisserie chicken, lots of carrots and celery, and egg noodles.
Protein spaghetti with this vegetable bolognese sauce and meatballs (frozen). Sauce freezes well.
This slow cooker coke roast (scroll down on the linked page to see recipe).
3 RECURRING MEALS + 2 MEALS OUT/ FREEZER = ONLY 2 NIGHTS TO PLAN EACH WEEK.
Each weekend, I write the meal plan for the week. Since we have 3 of these meals weekly (always the salmon, the lentil soup, and the sumac chicken), and we eat out/ grab take out/ have freezer food 2 times a week, I just slot in 2 extra meals from the list of 10.
For more selective eaters, I try to keep hard-boiled eggs and some easy to grab veggies in the fridge. A nutritionist friend once told me that the default option should be healthy, and not too yummy or tempting. (She thought she was stating the obvious, but I’d been making peanut butter and jellies almost nightly.)
KEEP A PERPETUAL GROCERY LIST.
I’ve included the stuff we need to have (milk, eggs, condiments, pantry stuff, etc), as well as the ingredients for the 3 recurring weekly meals, and the freezer meals that should always be kept in stock. This takes some thinking out of grocery shopping. I just add in what’s needed for the extra 2 dinners.
This is all probably very obvious to some, but for me, it has felt like cracking a code. I also love that we’ve cut way down on food waste.