If you’re reading this post, I assume you already identify with my struggle. Either you a) don’t have Whole Foods grocery money (or even shopping Wal-Mart without a plan money), b) know in your heart that you won’t be fixing Pinterest-worthy for yourself 3 times a day for 7 days a week, or c) are coming to terms that your metabolism is working against you as you grow older and/or might be tired of having a winter body year round and need to stop eating out so much. Or you might be like me and encounter all three problems as once. And when you’re living alone, cooking for yourself is a fun mix of making sure it’s something you want to eat but not making too much food because you don’t want to eat it for every meal for the next two weeks or have to throw food away. Whichever way, here we are. And I have a few tips to help you with broke, lazy, healthy meal planning.
Because we’re in this adulting struggle together. I got you sista-girl.
Lazy, healthy meal planning starts with getting real with yourself.
Take a for real look at your food likes and dislikes and “absolutely-not-in-my-mouth-today”s. For me, kale fits in that last group, but I kept buying it every few weeks with the hopes that one day I would like it. Truth is, one day never came and I would throw it away every single time. Same thing with green smoothies. I love spinach, but it’s a struggle for me to get up and dressed in the mornings, let alone make breakfast smoothies with nutrients and stuff. So if I buy spinach, it is for a meal. I don’t buy surplus for smoothies. That will only find its way to the trash. I also don’t buy things that aren’t good for me but I like a lot. Chips and salsa will never make it to my home. Why? Because I have no restraint and it doesn’t require much to eat.
Getting real with yourself helps you to understand what you will waste your money on, or what will go to your waist. Whichever way, when you know better you’ll do better.
Find 2-3 meals to like or try per week.
Grocery shopping for a particular recipe can be very expensive. Especially when you Pinterest like I do. For me, variety is the spice of life, so I try to work with my desires in a cost effective way. By choosing a fun recipe or two to try during a week, that gives me a few fun lunch or dinner option while not having to eat the very same meal every day. Other days, you can fill it with run-of-the-mill, easy recipes (including the tried and true PBJ and tuna sandwiches) to make sure you have stuff to eat. This is also extremely helpful for meal prep — you can fix your special meals on Sunday (or whatever meal prep day you choose) and pack up for the rest for the week.
Keep some staples on hand.
Once you review your eating habits, you’ll probably start to notice some cycles. I almost always want some type of curry every 4-6 weeks. It ranges from Jamaican curry to Thai curry to Indian curry, but guess who always has the spices on deck? Other staples I keep is canned tomatoes (because Nigerian), chicken stock (see previous note), miso soup packets and some sort of chicken or fish in my freezer always. These are great go-tos for meals that I already know how to make.
Be realistic about how many meals you are willing to cook.
Again. I am just not willing to cook every day at this point in my life. Maybe in the future, but I know not now. So to fill in the days I don’t feel like cooking or eating whatever I’ve cooked, I supplement with fairly easy meals like salads or (*gasp*) frozen meals. I really love Amy’s frozen dishes as well as Indian food from Trader Joe’s, so that works as a great lunch alternative for me. Plus, at $3-$4 it’s still a lot cheaper than going out to eat. But when you do want to go out to eat, plan for it! No need to beat yourself up, but I promise you your budget will definitely be much more pleased with you if you already know you’re going to eat 2-3 times a week and plan your grocery/meal planning around that.
And what about a meal plan?
They always say failure to plan is a plan to fail. And I just rampantly forget things, so I like to note what I’m planning to cook for the week. My fave is the Knock Knock What to Eat notepad. It’s even magnetic so it sticks to my fridge and I can see my plan at a glance. You can find it on Amazon, but also in Barnes and Nobles and a variety of places where books and Knock Knock products are sold. If you want to see it digitally, I use Quip to keep all of my online notes to self. It’s cross-device and syncs immediately across your phone, computer, tablet etc so that you can keep up.
Hopefully, this gets you on the track to having a great meal plan! The key is really understanding your own tendencies, so you can operate inside them well. Have some other meal planning hacks you’ve come across on your adulting journey? Share in the comments! I’d love to know them.
Disclaimer: This post does have an Amazon affiliate link, but I honestly do use the product and I honestly do love it. If you’d like to use the notepad, please consider using this link and supporting your favorite struggling adult blogger (me).