Meal Plans For The Win

Jan 30, 2019 | Food and Culture

Sitting down on a Sunday for an hour or so and planning out your meals for the week doesn’t sound like the most fun thing to do. It isn’t. However, it’s a lot more fun than going into full panic mode at 6:30pm on a Wednesday because you have no idea what to make for dinner.

Meal plans can take a lot of the stress out of eating throughout the week. They can save you money because you are less likely to order take out if you have a plan. And as part of your plan you can map out how you are going to use leftovers so, you are using everything to the max.

In this post I am going to explain my thoughts on how to build a usable and practical meal plan. I’m going to share a meal plan that I have written, as well as a downloadable template that you can use to build your own weekly meal plans. Let’s get into it.

Meal Plans For The Win

What makes a good meal plan?

A good meal plan shouldn’t be repetitive. Each meal should stand alone, but if possible use elements from the previous meal to prevent waste. A good meal plan is based on two or three large meals, the components of which can be used to make other meals.

It’s okay to use the same ingredients and leftovers as long as you are using them in a new way. No one wants to eat spaghetti and meat sauce three or four days in a row. But, if you can add a few ingredients to the sauce and change it’s flavour, and use that in a different dish, no one will even notice.

Below is a meal plan that I have mapped out. Let’s walk through it.


If we look at Monday, we can see roasted chicken with rice, roasted vegetables, and Greek salad. It’s a pretty straight forward meal. The chicken and vegetables get roasted in the oven with some olive oil, salt and pepper, maybe some oregano. The rice is very basic. And then Greek salad is Greek salad. Ideally, this would be a whole roasted chicken which would lead to a bunch of leftovers.

Make extra salad and vegetables and mix them together with a bit of chicken for lunch.

On Tuesday we have chicken fried rice with vegetable stir fry.

The reason we kept the rice plain on Monday was so we could use it to make fried rice on Tuesday. Some rice, peas, carrot, onion, pulled chicken, egg, and soy sauce, makes a delicious, and simple fried rice. Add some stir fried vegetables on the side and you have a full meal.

Fried rice stores well in the fridge and reheats well for a delicious lunch.

By Wednesday there isn’t going to be much meat left on the chicken from Monday. But that doesn’t mean it’s garbage.

On Wednesday we take the chicken carcass and make a stock. This is done by simmering the chicken leftovers in water with a bit of onion, celery, and carrot. This can be done in the slow cooker.

After a few hours we strain the bones, saving the liquid and picking off any meat we can. From there we discard the bones and carrot, onion, and celery and use the liquid to make a vegetable soup. We add the now twice cooked chicken bits in at the very end. Serve this with a grilled cheese and dinner’s done. Probably some leftovers for lunch too.

On Thursday we start over. We make a meat sauce and have it with spaghetti squash and Caesar salad. Garlic bread would be good here too. Make extra salad and keep the dressing off of it so you can have it for lunch tomorrow.

On Friday we re-purpose the meat sauce by adding some chili and maybe even some sausage or lentils. We mix this with cooked penne pasta, put it in a casserole dish, top it with cheese and bread crumbs and bake it. Serve this with a garden salad.

On Saturday we have a vegetarian chickpea curry with rice and naan bread. It’s something a little different to break up the flavours of the week.

Finally, on Sunday we make a big meal of pork roast with apple sauce, mashed potatoes and vegetables. The idea here is that we can use that pork for the next two or even three days. If it’s a bone-in pork roast, we can use the bone to make soup on the third or fourth day.


Conclusion

Meal planning isn’t a difficult thing to do. It does take some time, and some creativity, but it is worth it in the end. Imagine if you didn’t have to spend a Thursday evening stressing about what you were going to have for dinner. Imagine how much money and time you can save. It makes it seem worth it doesn’t it?

Below is a blank pdf copy of the meal plan above. Download it, print it out, and use it. Try it for just one week. You may find yourself very surprised at much more relaxed you are around meal times.

2 Comments

  1. Patrick Pilon

    Thanks Chef Ben me and my wife keep saying we need to start meal planning. But never thought of using one meal as a take off for a couple more we are going to give this a shot this week

  2. Chef Ben Kelly

    Patrick, it makes me really happy to hear that! If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

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