In my mid 20’s I went from being someone who went to the grocery store once a week to someone who went almost daily.  It helped Safeway was literally a 3 minute walk from my apartment.  I didn’t pre-plan meals in anyway shape or form.  On my way home from work I would decide what I wanted to make for dinner and head to the store for the ingredients.

When we purchased our condo, the number of times I went food shopping drastically decreased.  We were no longer within walking distance of a grocery store, which meant I started to go every couple of days on my way home from work.  I slowly started to think about meals in 2-3 day increments.

Enter newborn baby.  I was exhausted, often un-showered (SHHH don’t tell) and barely had time for a bathroom break, let alone cook or go food shopping multiple times a week.  Not to mention the logistics involved in going to the store with a newborn baby in-tow!  Store runs became almost nonexistent and the number of nights we were ordering in steadily inclined.

Let me be honest…cooking is way healthier AND less expensive than ordering in.  Plus, there is the added bonus that I really do LOVE to cook!  Once I went back at work full time and ‘adjusted’ to our new schedule, I started making a conscious effort to cook more often.

I go food shopping once … max twice … a week now.  It has been an interesting transition since I wasn’t giving much forethought to our meals.  With no plan in place, I’ve been working with what we’ve got in the house.  It didn’t take long to realize we were going to live off chicken/rice and pasta/meat sauce if I don’t start planning ahead.

So, a couple of weeks ago I made a decision to start meal planning.  I took out pen and paper and actually wrote down what I was going to make each night for dinner.  I gave myself one ‘order in’ night … I need{ed} to be realistic and not to bite off more than I can chew!

First thing I did was write out a FULL list of our go-to recipes.  Though I would like to get a mix of old and new dinner menus I figured it was probably best to start with what I know we like and go from there.  I decided to make a list of what to cook for dinner throughout the week and determine what we would eat when later.  The one caveat to this is recipes that were more time intensive I planned on conquering over the weekend.

Meal Planning Dinner Recipes - Week 1 | Life's Tidbits

Dinner Choices for Meal Planning Week 1!

  1. Smoky Southwestern Tilapia with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans
  2. Roasted Chicken with Carrots and Potatoes
  3. Hamburger Casserole
  4. Chicken Fajita Stuffed Peppers (substituted with ground turkey and mozzarella cheese – was totally delish!)
  5. Baked Honey Cajan Shrimp with white rice and steamed green beans
  6. Chicken Pesto Pasta
  7. Order In!

Overall week 1 went really well! It was so nice to have everything on hand and the recipes preselected.  The other great thing about meal planning was there were plenty of leftovers for lunch each day.  Similar to my order in one night I gave myself a couple of days for going out to lunch with coworkers.  This was partially because I like going out to eat and be social, as well as to give myself an out when I needed to change things up.

Do I have any changes and/or goals for week 2 of meal planning?  Well, thank you for asking … because I do plan to make a few changes!  I need to not only meal plan for my husband and me, but for little Jellybean too.  Cook more meals over the weekend to save additional time during the week (make the freezer my friend hahaha).  Also, I would like to challenge myself to use more of what’s already in my pantry and refrigerator.  Doing so will take more planning/research, but I feel it will be useful in expanding my recipe ‘portfolio’ as well as saving a little extra mulla!!

Do you meal plan?  Any tips or tricks you can share?

I would love to hear your EASY and favorite week night recipe!

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