Author Topic: Healthy, weekly meal plans...cooking on Sunday  (Read 1859 times)

Bradfurd

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Healthy, weekly meal plans...cooking on Sunday
« on: March 28, 2017, 07:36:27 AM »
I'm feeling called to stop the in-house rat race of scrambling to make dinner every night. We are currently a household of three...me, my wife, a 15 month old, and another one due in October.

Does anyone have any resources pointing to tasty, healthy, meal plans that can be prepared for the week on Sunday without a monumental effort? I know this is common, and have been wanting to do it for some time, I just can't seem to find any weekly meal plans that fit the bill. Either the ingredients are too fancy, or the recipes don't turn out so great. Please share what has worked for you or any links that may be helpful...thanks in advance!

MandalayVA

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Re: Healthy, weekly meal plans...cooking on Sunday
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2017, 07:53:19 AM »
Melissa Joulwan's Well Fed--it's a Paleo site but the recipes are easy and good and use real ingredients.  Melissa also outlines how to do a "cookup," which is bulk cooking on Sunday to have meals all week.  The link goes to some of her recipes but you can definitely browse from there:

https://meljoulwan.com/2017/03/02/paleo-dinners-cook-week-52-2/


boarder42

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Re: Healthy, weekly meal plans...cooking on Sunday
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2017, 08:03:37 AM »
Bfast casserole - ground turkey and eggs
chili for lunch
make a roast that will last all week ... then just steam or roast some veg each night.

4alpacas

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Re: Healthy, weekly meal plans...cooking on Sunday
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2017, 11:01:01 AM »
Bfast casserole - ground turkey and eggs
chili for lunch
make a roast that will last all week ... then just steam or roast some veg each night.
I buy the steamfresh bags from the grocery store.  Usually, we eat about a bag of broccoli a night (my DH and me).  We toss the frozen bag in the microwave for 5 minutes.  Tonight, we'll have broccoli and cauliflower with chicken I cooked on Sunday and quinoa that I made in the pressure cooker yesterday. 

We also bulk cook on the weekends and freeze a few servings.  We defrost the servings later in the month, so we don't have to cook too many dishes every weekend. 

redbird

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Re: Healthy, weekly meal plans...cooking on Sunday
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2017, 11:13:16 AM »
https://www.budgetbytes.com/ - Her recipes are cheap, healthy, and tasty. I've become a big fan. Her recipes generally make multiple servings, and since you are a family of only 2 adults and 1 young child, you should have leftovers regardless. But you can artificially get more leftovers by doubling or tripling recipes and freezing some of it!

Also, you might want to look into an Instant Pot. I just bought one last year. I'm FIRE but I really wish I'd had one when I was still working. It's so easy to make meals fast with this. Most IP recipes seemed aimed at larger families than mine (only 2 adults and no kids here) so they pretty much always get me leftovers that I can use for future days.

milliemchi

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Re: Healthy, weekly meal plans...cooking on Sunday
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2017, 12:25:52 PM »
I did this all of last year, and this is what worked for me:

1. Limit the range of ingredients you use. Make a list of everything you need to have in the house at all times (salt, milk, bread, cheese, flour, toilet paper...). My list is two two-columned pages with headings such as pantry/fridge/freezer/cupboards/bathroom. It takes ~10-15 minutes to go through it all and make a shopping list for the week.

2. Add the ingredients for what you plan to cook that week to the list. Go to the store only once a week. Go to the fewest stores you can get away with. We go to ALDI and a local grocery store, and that's it. What they don't have, we don't use - again, limit your options. A few times a year, we go to a local Walmart to get stuff ALDI does not have. It takes ~2.5h to do the shopping, unload the groceries, and put them on shelves in proper order (newer stuff in the back, older stuff that expires sooner in the front). You only do this once a week though.

3. Cook only 3 dishes per week. Rotate the dishes through weekdays: A,B,C,A,B,C, and Sunday it's either leftovers, or something's happening (people coming over, us visiting friends...) that takes care of that day's meal. I made sure one of the dishes is vegetarian every week, just for health and variety (and maybe cost).

4. Cook all dishes at once. Use a slow cooker. Have more than one set of pots. It takes ~3h or less to do all the prep and then stuff is cooking while you do other things (laundry, work on a laptop in the kitchen...). Some things will need to be stirred, some can be left alone for a while.

5. Make a variety of very simple dishes. It was very important to me to not cook the same thing over and over again.

6. One type of endless variation is protein+side vegetable+starch. Protein can be chicken/turkey/pork/beef/fish/eggs/tofu/edamame, prepared as roasted/stew/sausages/sauteed in pan w/ spices/breaded (prepped,frozen) then roasted/steamed, all with or without onion, garlic, and/or variable spices if desired.  Vegetables can come frozen and microwaveable from ALDI (I make those the day of). Starch can be bread/buns/naan/pita/tortilla/mashed potatoes (made the day of, instant or 'real')/various grains/rice (brown, white)/corn (frozen)/noodles/dumplings. Endless combinations. This is very handy when you have people over.

7. Another type of meal is a bit ethnic and involves beans/green peas/lentils/etc. cooked as a big pot of, let's call it, soup. Add onions (sauteed first is best), garlic, cubed pork/beef (or not, legumes are protein), sometimes carrot, sometime peppers, salt, pepper and cook until it's cooked (usually ~45 min). Add dill to green peas. Serve beans with crushed pepper (spicy) and/or crumbled feta cheese. Serve lentils or green peas with plain yogurt or sour cream or fresh lemon juice or vinegar. To thicken, add a cubed potato (not too much).

8. To add to variety, cook other ethnic dishes such as mousaka (potato/zuccinni/egglant/all of the above), stuffed peppers/eggplant/tomato. These can be made in big batches and frozen for later. Try paprikas. Stews can be served over noodles or dumpling. Etc.

9. Carrots can be cooked with onion and meat, ditto for cabbage with cubed meat or beef sausage (cooked with cabbage). Frozen mixed veggies can be cooked as a vegetable soup.  Go easy on water, add salt and pepper or other spices, stir in lots of sour cream after it's cooked. Use canned soup as a pre-meal to a more solid/meaty dish. Frozen, cooked meatballs can be bought (ALDI has turkey, Sam's has beef) and cooked with a couple of cans of crushed tomato (add Italian seasoning).

10. Occasionally cook Italian: any of the many types of pasta with any of the many types of pasta sauces. Combine. For variety, you can fry some chopped onion, then add ground meat on top, fry cook, then add pasta sauce. This works great with marinara and other red sauces. Frozen pizza (cooked day of) can be healthy (ALDI has a good variety if you catch it).

11. Occasionally cook Mexican: ground meat can be cooked with spices in a big batch, then served with tacos or tortillas. Veggies on the side. Beans optional.

12. Occasionally cook Asian: ALDI sells frozen stir-fry bags (veggies and chicken/shrimp) and similar. These are made the day of.

13. Use plenty of onion, sauteed, chopped or thinly sliced, as a base for cooked meals. Ditto for garlic (to taste).

14. Always have hard boiled eggs on hand. When in doubt, microwave frozen veggies and serve with eggs.

This may not be what you are looking for, since these are not exact recipes. But that's a feature, not a bug. Dishes are simple to cook, simple to remember, simple to look at  - nothing flashy. Many do not have a name or specs, they are just healthy food. You can be a bit off with cooking, but it's still the same dish. You can vary to your family's tastes. Better yet, since you may be discovering some dishes for the first time, you get to form your family's tastes. Better yet, these are easy to teach. You can involve your child in the preteen years, and by college time, they will be able to feed themselves well and cheaply.

I call this survival cooking. When my youngest becomes a tween, I will branch out into fancier cooking, entertaining, pastry, deserts, homemade whatever... For now, my time is limited and better used elsewhere.

golden1

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Re: Healthy, weekly meal plans...cooking on Sunday
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2017, 12:45:42 PM »
I do similar to what milliemchi does, keeping staples on hand and working with them, but with a fair bit of shortcuts added in because I am lazy and hate cooking.  I probably have a mental list of about 20 fast meals that I rotate through, with many of them very easy things that I can throw together with no notice, like tacos or a stir fry.  In the summer, it is easier, because I just can grill up something very quickly which I tend to do 2-3 times a week.  Think simple and easy with not a lot of ingredients and do slight variations to keep from getting too bored.  Spaghetti with grilled chicken, or frozen meatballs simmered in sauce.  Fish marinated in a teriyaki glaze. 

MsSindy

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Re: Healthy, weekly meal plans...cooking on Sunday
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2017, 01:16:12 PM »
I do almost exactly what milliemchi laid out for you... except I'm slightly more vegetarian based.  If that seems too overwhelming at first, try this:

 - I assume you guys have a few recipes that you make on a routine basis, if not establish some
 - You should know a few good pasta sauces, chili, stews, roasts, soups
 - make these in quadruplicate and freeze - that way you always have something you can whip out of the freezer
 - For the first Sunday, make 2 of these recipes (they should have some of the same ingredients such as onions/carrots - this way you can chop all at once), and you'll have ~20 servings to freeze
 - Next Sunday, make 2 more, and you'll have an additional ~20 servings to freeze
 - the following Sunday and thereafter make 1 more and you'll have an additional ~10 servings to freeze
 - Now you can rotate fresher dinners with the frozen dinners throughout the week.

This would be the easiest thing to get started and you can build from there.
If you have more time on Sundays, try cooking a roast or whole chicken - you can make infinite things with the leftovers (burritos, salads, tacos, etc)

Invest in a vacuum packer - I've had dinners in the freezer for 3 years and when I ate them, it was as if I had made it yesterday - totally worth the investment.

Also, buy a whole bunch of chicken breasts (when on sale), prepare your favorite marinade and vacuum pack them in the marinade 2 or 3 to a pack - they are ready to go on the grill or in the oven/pan at a moments notice, already flavored up.  Add some veggies and a micro potato.

Setters-r-Better

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Re: Healthy, weekly meal plans...cooking on Sunday
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2017, 03:28:33 PM »
I think it works best to make up your own "meal plan" using recipes you already like and occasionally throwing in one that you think your family would like to try. Do you have a binder full of recipes or cookbooks you already like?  That's a good place to start.

Something you can try is cooking two meals at the same time (like on sunday), and eating one that night, and the other you can put in the fridge for a later night that week. They can be completely unrelated dishes, but you can probably handle cooking more than one thing while you're in the kitchen. Using your crock pot will mean you have a meal ready when you get home. Or you can try cooking everything for the week on Sunday, but that could take up your whole day depending on how complicated your dishes are.