Have you planned your meals for the next week? If you want to save time, effort, and money then a good option is meal plans for the week. This will help to prepare three square meals and even snacks for the following week. It can prevent the need to stand in front of your fridge or pantry and think about what you want to make for each meal. It might seem like a hassle to prepare your next 21 meals. This is especially true if you have a lot going on and it’s not at the top of your to-do list. However, it’s well worth it because it will make your life easier.
The good news is you also don’t have to prepare 10-course meals for the next week. You can plan breakfast, lunches, and dinners that are simple, healthy, and tasty. The less time you spend preparing for meals the more free time you’ll have for other important things in your life. This is critical because as the saying goes there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. Eating is important but planning meals shouldn’t require tons of time and effort since other things are also important.
Benefits of Meal Plans for the Week
1. Less stressful
Yes, you’ll have to spend some time and effort in planning your meals. In fact, it might take a few hours or more. However, it’s an investment in your weekly meals and will make your life easier in the next seven days.
That’s because everything will be planned out. You’ll know what to prepare for each meal. You’ll also have all the ingredients you’ll need, so you won’t have to run out to the grocery store or farmer’s market to pick up stuff you need.
2. Save money
This is one of the most overlooked benefits of meal-planning. When you plan your meals ahead of time you can get everything you need during one trip to the supermarket or market.
It’s also easier to stay within your food budget. When you don’t do meal planning, you’re more likely to buy the stuff you don’t need during each trip to the store. That could include buying stuff like junk food.
3. Varied meals
When you plan meals it’s also easier to vary your meals. You can cross-reference your breakfasts for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday so you won’t be eating the same stuff each day.
When you don’t plan meals, you’re more likely to eat the same thing multiple times during the week. This is based on the ingredients you have or lack of energy to try something new.
4. Healthier meals
This might be a surprising one. When you plan your meals, you can plan what foods you’ll be eating for all three meals during the day. This makes it easier to make sure you’re getting enough vitamins, minerals, enzymes, etc.
On the other hand, when you just wing it during mealtime, you’re more likely to pick unhealthy options based on whatever ingredients are on hand. You’re also more likely to order out because it’s more convenient.
Easy Meals for the Week
When you start out it might seem tough to plan for 21 meals. The good news is you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can include the same basic ingredients in different males.
For example, let’s say you’re planning for next week’s breakfasts. One of the healthiest breakfast foods is oatmeal. It’s a whole grain that’s chock-full of nutrients like fiber. It’s also quite bland but that’s a good thing. You could actually add different stuff to your oatmeal including:
- Dark chocolate
- Raw sugar
- Protein powder
- Milk/Almond milk
- Dried/fresh fruit
Even within these categories, you have even more options. For example, you can add many kinds of fruit like blueberries, strawberries, apples, bananas, or mangos. This adds more variety to your breakfasts.
You can use the same approach for lunch and dinner. For example, there are so many healthy salads you can pick for lunch like a garden, Greek, or tuna. Then for dinner, you can pick a different starch like bread, rice, or potatoes.
It all starts with planning your meals. Once you start the process, you’ll see the tons of options you have for all three square meals. As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life.
You can also buy bulk of certain foods then use them in different ways. We just talked about oatmeal, for example. You could buy other stuff in bulk like rice. When you do that it will be easier to plan meals since you could use the same ingredient multiple times during the week.
What if you’ve run out of ideas? The web makes it easier than ever to get recipe ideas. If you want new ways to prepare eggs, potatoes, or fish you won’t have a problem doing a Google search to find them. You’ll then have a new “problem” of picking which recipes to try next.
Sample Meal Plans for the Week
Here are some basic ideas:
|Yogurt/berry smoothie||Fruit salad|
|Avocado toast w/ egg||Breakfast sandwich|
|PB&J waffle sandwich||Oatmeal with egg|
|Chocolate oatmeal||Breakfast burrito|
|Spinach/cheese quiche||Peanut butter and banana toast|
|Warm fruit bowl||Breakfast muffins w/ egg|
|Turkey taco bowl||Turkey and cheese sandwich|
|Chicken/beef tacos||Grilled cheese|
|Turkey wraps||Baked salmon|
|Zucchini noodle soup||Garden salad|
|Tuna wrap||Black bean burrito|
|Granola bar||Sesame chicken|
|Chicken/beef quesadillas||Burger with lettuce, tomato, and onion|
|BBQ chicken||Chicken noodle soup|
|Grilled ribs||Roast chicken sandwich|
|Beef & broccoli||Chicken fingers|
|Vegetable Lasagna||Minestrone soup|
|Stuffed pasta shells||Grilled salmon|
|Chicken tacos/burritos||Baked chicken|
|Egg rolls (homemade)||Stuffed green peppers|
|Chicken pot pie||Homemade pizza|
These are some of the many options you have when planning for the next week’s meals. If you want your meals to be healthier then you can take some basic steps. Use fish/chicken instead of beef/pork when possible. You can also add more veggies to make a dish healthier.
Portion sizes are also important in terms of healthy meals. Make sure not to overdo it with the portions. The problem is even healthy dishes can be less so if you serve large portions. It’s especially true when the dish includes ingredients like meat and cheese.
Try to rotate your meals so you won’t end up eating the same dishes over and over. If your prep time is limited, you’ll be more likely to keep preparing the same dishes. This can make your meals boring, which is something you won’t want at mealtime.
Another issue to take up is the cost of the ingredients. Certain ones might be more expensive because of your region, time of year, etc. In those cases, pick other options for meal plans for the week.