Updated: Oct 19
Since my husband and I separated, I have had to adjust quite a few things in my life. I expected for there to be big adjustments, but I honestly didn't expect the smaller changes to be so disruptive to everyday activities. Cooking is an everyday task, and although I love and prefer to than cook than to eating out, I found this task to be yet another learning curve of my divorce.
Learning what to cook and how often to shop for groceries was like discovering myself all over again. I still haven't learned how to cook just for one person but my meal planning techniques are worth sharing!
My Meal Planning Tools & Tips
Books & Blogs
I like to keep my recipes fresh and fun, especially for lunch and dinner. Being the bookworm that I am, it would only make sense for me to have a wide variety of cook-books. I also steal recipes that my favorite bloggers are sharing, in this way, my meals become a fun way to connect with the community.
Weekly Meal Planner with Shopping List
I've always done so much better at anything that I wrote down first. I am a tactile person, meaning, I like to feel myself writing something down and I feel like it is real when I put it in writing and can touch it. My daily meals seem that much more well-planned after I have assigned them to a specific day and after I have written all the needed ingredients down. You can download the weekly meal planner that I like to use. It's simple and it has a space where you can write your shopping list.
I noticed that I eat way more fruits and vegetables than I did when I was married and since fruits and vegetables spoil faster, I decided that it didn't make any sense for me to shop for 2 weeks worth of groceries at a time, but rather, it made more sense for me to do grocery shopping every week, if needed. I plan my meals for one week at a time so I shop just for one week's worth of food. It's less overwhelming this way and I noticed that I am able to budget better and know the exact quantity of any particular food item that I should purchase.
When I lived with a man, food went fast. LOL I would shop for two weeks of food and it would be all gone near the end of the second week. Now, it's just little-ole me...and I'm really little...LOL What is more, I eat vegetables and fruit and I almost never buy pre-made foods. Fresh foods spoil faster, so buying two weeks worth of raspberries is not a good idea as they spoil really fast and won't be fresh the second week. I avoid waste by shopping for fruits and vegetables and other foods that need to be refrigerated just one week at a time.
Also, I avoid waste by trying to find recipes that have similar ingredients. If I buy a bunch of celery, for example, of which I will only need 2 stalks for one recipes, then I will try to find another recipe where I can use the additional 2 stalks. This helps me avoid the super guilty feeling we all get when perfect food spoils and you have to throw it out simply because you didn't eat it in time.
Another great tip to avoiding waste is saving uncooked planned meals for the following week. In this way you don't have to waste the ingredients that you purchased and you won't waste time trying to find another recipe.
My Meal Planning In Action
The pictures above of three meals that I was able to cook for the week of September 7-13. I used The Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines as my meal inspirations and put my twist on the recipes where needed. The spaghetti and meatballs is my very own recipe using meat-less veggie meatballs. I already had most of the ingredients and therefore, I avoided waste of food and money with this recipe.
I noticed that I ended up saving money also on my grocery bill because I was strict with myself, only purchasing food items on my shopping list. My Winc Wine Subscription came in handy too; I had fun trying to pair the wines with my meals!
This new way of meal planning is still growing on me, and at times I find it a little un-motivating to just cook for myself but I try to remind myself of how bad I feel (health-wise) when I eat out, how joyful I feel when I finish preparing a beautiful meal, such as the meals you see above, and how much time and money I save when I meal plan. Reflecting on all of these helps me to continue to make meal planning an important part of my Sunday evenings.
Do you have any meal planning tips to share?