Do you need a weekly meal plan?

In these days of pandemic where many of us work from home, people consider it safer to eat home-cooked meals rather than risk exposing ourselves to restaurants and take out lines. Also as a result of working from home, eating homecooked meals is more feasible than it has been in the past. So how do we go about the weekly meals? To plan or not to plan? That is the question.

The case for planning:

Tablet with a Weekly Planner App open
Weekly Planner

Many planners like to spend Sunday evenings planning the week ahead. Looking at the personal and professional appointments, events, and tasks for the week helps them prioritize and plan. This way they avoid the dreaded Monday Morning Blues. Planning the meals ahead for the week is part of this planning for many. I have toyed with the idea for a while but never really pursued it.

Whereas I am a big believer in planning, I am still testing the waters on meal planning and whether or not it will help me.

Trying out meal planning

Each of us is different and we can never tell whether a planning methodology works for us or not without first trying it. So I  decided to launch an experiment where I will plan meals for a few weeks in a row and see how it works out for me and my family.

The Challenges

Since the pandemic, work from home has become an all-encompassing feat and strives to steal every minute of my waking hours. Even though I don’t commute and save some time as a result, the workday easily spans 10- 12 and sometimes even 14 hours of work each day. Also because of the pandemic, eating out has gone down significantly. Therefore the reliance on home-cooked meals is now significantly higher.

In addition to planning my meals, I also needed to simplify and optimize the meal preparation time. I cook Indian Vegetarian meals and sometimes I mix it up with world cuisine. In addition to simple and healthy Indian food, we love Mexican food, pasta, salads, sandwiches, and soups.

pexels-shantanu-pal-2802527

Ground rules for my meal plan:

Cook once in the day

Since I need time for my morning ritual and also start the workday relatively early, I decided that I should plan on cooking dinners in two batches so we can have leftovers the day after. One condition is that lunch can’t be exactly the same thing as the previous night’s dinner. It needed a small modification so it doesn’t look like a replica of the previous night’s dinner.

Cook simple and healthy meals

Meals should take no more than 45 minutes to prepare and should have a good mix of vegetables. also the balance of carbohydrates and protein should be adequate.

All days are not created equal

Thursday dinner should be exceptionally simple because it is that evening of the week when I am mentally and physically exhausted.

Kick-off the weekend with take out

Friday’s dinner will be take out

Leave an unplanned day

Weekends are for relaxation and going with the flow. It makes sense then that we leave room for spontaneity in the weekend. And so we decided that Saturday meals will be unplanned and potentially take out as well.

Comfort food on Sunday night

Sunday night should be comfort food and as with any other weeknight, I plan to cook enough so we will have leftovers for lunch.

Additional planning

Everyone has a say

Although I plan the meals, I want to make sure every family member’s choices are fairly represented in the plan. So I emailed the next week’s plan to my family and let them send me any comments or recommendations.

Grocery run

In addition, we needed to make sure grocery was bought over the weekend and everything we needed for the week’s meals was available. So I prepared a grocery list and one person in the family took responsibility for making sure we had it all by Sunday night.

Who will clean up?

Additionally, after meal clean up was assigned to each of us so there is no time wasted during meal prep times to first clean up surfaces, empty or load the dishwasher, etc.

Week One

Today marks the end of week one. And here is how it went.

Week One Meal Plan

Week 1 Meal Plan

So far, all went per plan, except on Tuesday I found I had cauliflower in the fridge that needed to be used up so I made Aloo Gobi instead of Palak Paneer.

Week Two Meal Plan

Week 2 Meal Plan

Do you, or did you ever consider, planning your meals? What has been your experience like? Any tips and suggestions for me? Please share in the comments section.

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