I know, it’s only (meal planning) but I like it, like it, yes I do

If you’re like me, your meal planning structure comes in waves. Some weeks I’m on cruise control with one efficient grocery visit and a plan for the next 14 days, so full of hope for the new recipes I’ll try. Taylor and I love the easy and simplicity (no cleanup, boom!) of leftovers, so I never blink at making an 8-serving recipe. Lunch and dinner the next two days are covered! When I’m on my A game, I’ll make three dishes and a few sides at once on a Sunday afternoon, so that we can rotate between them during the week without getting tired of anything.

Other weeks when I’m at my B game, I end up heading to the store every three days in order to make a full meal—often eating weird combinations of what left in the fridge and very simple pairings of proteins and veggies. I dislike this strategy for the most part because I’m spoiled and like ‘food security’. When I’m not planning ahead, there’s a lot of empty space in the fridge and food redundancy which stresses me out (they call this i.e., “food jail” . . .  tips to get out of food jail).  

B game has eclipsed A game as the default in our house since summer began. While at times this flexibility has been nice - sure we can eat out, nothing in the fridge! - it’s just not sustainable.  For one, my go-to recipe rotation is getting boring, and even though my husband hasn’t said so, I think he’s ready for some new treats. Two, although I’m on a pseudo summer break, I have a dissertation to finish and a new course to prep for the Fall. When I have some structure in the form of a grocery/meal schedule, I do better at structuring my work, especially since hubby and I both work from home. And three, I HAVE A PUPPY-OMGOSH – YES, IT’S LIKE CHRISTMAS EVERYDAY FOR ME. But really. Working from home means I have even more distractions and less structure. I needz the structure.

Now, I’m excited to share with you my recommitment to meal planning and the strategy I’ll be using.

First, are you using a recipe manager or meal planning app of some kind? After we got married last summer, I did TONS of research on the best apps out there. The app Paprika was my final choice. I won’t spend time reviewing it here, but it is a paid app and you pay for each device (4.99 for the phone app & 19.99 for the PC app). After using the mobile version, I decided to shell out the big bucks and get the PC version too. Best decision ever. There are so many great features, but probably the best one is the ability to one-click save recipes by using the browser extension. While I love the tactile look and feel of a paper and pencil shopping list, this is a WAY more efficient method of grocery planning, shopping, and cooking. Check out these two quick reviews:

The Kitchn Paprika Review

Andrew OHare's Youtube Review

Second, using Paprika, I have built two meal plans (Week 1 & Week 2) and a freezer prep list (called Menus). I use the term week loosely, as I’m not sure how far I’ll get with each. Starting this week, I’ll head out to shop for Week 1 and do some up front prepping when I get home. When I’ve finalized my two lists, I’ll post on the blog. As for now, here’s sneak peek at some of the new recipes I’m planning to try:

·       Plaid and Paleo's Tropical Mango Pork

·       Paleo Leap's Watermelon Raspberry & Mint Salad

·       Wholesomelicious' Turkey Meatballs

What are you excited to test out in the kitchen this week?

Hank, the German Shorthaired Pointer, tired after finding recipes with Mom.