Confessions of a Meal Plan

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Alright, humans. I did it. Last week, I made, for the first time ever in my life–a meal plan.

Did it go perfectly? Heck no! Did it go roughly okay? Sure.

Read below for the week’s meal-plan related trials and tribulations.

 

Dressler’s Confessions of a Meal Plan

MONDAY

This was the day I actually put together my meal plan, using this very scientific method:

  1. Drew up a quick grid of the week–all the days of the week, plus breakfast/lunch/dinner.
  2. Filled in breakfasts with alternating “omelet” and “avocado toast” spaces. (Spoiler: I didn’t eat avocado toast ONCE during the week, but at least we had the avocados!)
  3. Browsed Minimalist Baker for four tasty recipes I could use to fill in the other blanks.
  4. Found this citrus kale salad, this mushroom risotto, these pad thai spring rolls (yes!) and these butternut squash/black bean enchiladas.
  5. Made a list of all the groceries I needed for these things.
  6. Went grocery shopping with my lovely roommate.
  7. Got home and PREPPED. (Also, made that kale salad, and it was amazing.)

prepping

Several Notes On Prepping

This time, for my first-ever try at prepping things for several meals at once, I skimmed through the recipes, noted what needed to be done with the produce (chopped? cubed? grated?), did that, and called it a day.

If I had to do it over again (which, coincidentally, I will, because I’m a Human Who Needs To Eat Food To Survive), here’s what I’d do:

Go through the recipes more carefully.

There were so many moments that I could have sauteed mushrooms or drained tofu or even whipped up a sauce with minimal effort, and saved myself oodles of time later in the week–but I didn’t look carefully enough at the process.

Embrace low-maintenance multi-tasking.

You can have pasta cooking and tofu baking while you’re chopping veggies–and your workload is still exactly the same! Use all your resources.

on this day i learned:

  • Mustard stays good for, like, forever
  • How to cube a butternut squash
  • I take forEVER to chop carrots, and so that’s a thing I need to practice.
  • It took me a little over an hour to slice a handful of bella mushrooms, grate some carrots, slice half an onion and dice the other half, peel and chop a grapefruit, slice an apple, cube a butternut squash, and make a killer kale salad.

TUESDAY

HA! Tuesday. Oh, Tuesday. I packed a kale salad for lunch and felt so proud of myself. Things went downhill after that.

on this day i learned:

  • Kale salads don’t get soggy the next day!
  • A kale salad isn’t quite enough to keep me not-hungry for the next, oh, six hours.
  • I need better Tupperware that doesn’t drip inside my backpack.
  • Between my two afternoon classes, when I have two hours to burn, I’m always hungry, and I want coffee and a snack. (And today it was a mocha and a slice of lemon poundcake from Starbucks.)
  • If, say, hypothetically, I have a networking event directly after my class, and I don’t get home till 9:30pm, I’m probably not going to want to cook dinner.
  • Which means I’m 10000% more likely to, instead, get a sandwich at Cheba Hut.
  • And a donut for dessert.
  • It’s okay. You can try again tomorrow.

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WEDNESDAY

Woke up Wednesday and decided to bake a lemon poundcake (which was THE MOST FUN way to begin my day, oh gosh.)

That night, I intentionally stepped back on the horse and cooked up some mushroom risotto–sans mushrooms.

on this day i learned:

  • Kale salads still aren’t soggy two days later!
  • I’m still in the mood to cook dinner as long as I get home by 8pm.
  • If mushrooms are slimy and smell iffy, you should probably just throw it away.
  • One cup of rice is SO MUCH RICE. It is SO MUCH.

THURSDAY

This was EASILY the best food day.

Had half a grapefruit for breakfast, plus some English breakfast tea. Actually went home for lunch, and heated up some risotto and finished up the never-ending kale salad.

Packed a slice of lemon cake as an afternoon snack, and I ate it that afternoon in the sunshine, and all was right with the world. Made pad thai spring rolls for dinner that night, and my lovely roommate mixed up a peanut dipping sauce.

on this day i learned:

  • Kale salads still aren’t soggy THREE DAYS LATER!
  • Girl, go home for lunch. Just go home. You can chill out, prep some stuff for dinner, and have leftovers in a nice, relaxed environment. Plus, you can pack a snack for the afternoon.
  • Tofu drains better if you cut it into slices first. (Thanks, Anna!)

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FRIDAY

I’m pretty sure I skipped breakfast and moved straight into leftover pad thai spring rolls for lunch…and then didn’t fall off the wagon so much as intentionally step off the wagon into Cane’s for dinner.

It was great. (But, admittedly, not as great as the ultra-together feeling of Having A Delicious Homecooked Meal In The Fridge.) [But still pretty damn great. Those fries and that sauce? Aw yiss.]

SATURDAY& Sunday

No cooking to report.

 

So, What WORKED?

  1. Having clear plans for what I wanted to make. That was SUPER helpful, because then I had actual things to look forward to. Instead of “Eh, I should cook tonight,” it was more “No, I’ve gotta get home so I can make that bomb-ass mushroom risotto.”
  2. Having all my ingredients ahead of time, and not needing to run to the store last-minute for anything.
  3. Making big batches that I could munch on for days.
  4. All the recipes were delicious, unusual, and exciting.
  5. Going home for lunch.

What didn’t work?

  1. I still don’t have a working thermos, so I can’t bring coffee or tea to school with me–I always end up buying it instead. This is a thing to fix.
  2. Not prepping more ingredients, or doing smarter prep. (Mushrooms should’ve been cooked immediately, pasta should’ve been boiled, etc.)
  3. Not having dinner already made for my late nights.

What do i want for next time?

  • To come home from class on Tuesdays and Thursdays with dinner totally ready to eat.
  • Less than an hour of post-grocery-store prep work.
  • For all my meals to take less than 20 minutes to cook. (Post-prepwork.)
  • Oatmeal for breakfast.

Beautiful readers? Got any meal planning tips? Roads to takeout paved with good intentions? Leave a comment!

 

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