Posted by: OHgalinSoCal | June 4, 2013

What’s for Dinner? Let’s Meal Plan

Hi all! Yesterday I showed off my grocery shopping muscles. Today, I’m going to show you what I do with all that yummy food. I mean besides eat it…duh!

When I spend that much money buying food, I want to make sure it all gets consumed. The easiest way to do that, is to have a plan.

Now obviously some things don’t require a meal plan. Like the snack foods, cereal and most of the fruit. But you saw the picture from my shopping trip, what am I going to do with all that stuff? The short answer: cook it and eat it.

I’m a very Type A person. I’m a planner. I plan my days. I plan my workouts for my classes. I plan my trips home. I plan my meals. In my opinion, life just seems to run a little smoother when you have a plan.

Plus our time is so accounted for in this house, we don’t have time to aimlessly wander around the kitchen or stare into the fridge, wondering what’s for dinner. Every day when I wake up, I know what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just one less thing I have to worry about. At least during the week. On the weekends we’ve been known to get crazy and throw in a trip to Subway. Woah! 

I find we are more efficient with our food spending and consuming when we have a plan. Here’s how I do it. First off, my tools….lists. I love me some lists! (I mentioned I was Type A, right?)


I can’t live without these things. Ok, that’s a little over exaggerated. I mean, I could live without them. I’m just not sure what kind of chaos might ensue. Let’s just stick to the list, people.

I know some of you are all fancy schmancy with your apps and computer programs. I’m a pen and paper kind of gal.


As you can tell, my grocery list is on the left, my meal plan is on the right.

I first will figure out my meals. Sometimes I take inspiration from recipes I see in magazines (Cooking Light, Shape, Self, etc. Oh yeah, I have a huge addiction to magazines. That’s a whole ‘nother post), food blogs or recipes I see on the Food Network. I say inspiration, because I rarely follow a recipe to a T. I like to put my own spin on it- whether it’s to make sure it’s gluten-free, making it healthier or adding my own choice of flavors and seasonings. Majority of the time though, my meals, my recipes are my own creation.

The sad thing about that, I never write things down as I’m cooking them. That can be rather frustrating when trying to recreate something the exact same way. Or when a friend asks for my recipe. I’m trying to make a conscious effort on paying attention to the quantities of my ingredients. I’m doing that for you, so I can share some of my successful recipes. ‘Cause sharing is caring.

Once I have the meals planned out, I pick what days we’re going to eat what meals. Monday and Wednesday evenings I don’t typically have to work, so I save the more time consuming, more complicated meals for those days.

After the meals are decided, I make my grocery list to correspond with what I’ll need to make that week’s assigned meals. That way I have everything I need, without purchasing things I don’t. Read: no unnecessary spending, or wasting of food.

I know. None of this is brain surgery or rocket science. You’re probably all reading this thinking what a pointless post. But how many of you know what you’re having for dinner the rest of the week? Or even today? How many of you hit up a fast food joint or threw some nuggets in the microwave?

We’re all busy. Being a grown-up means you’re busy. Having kids means you’re really busy. Make your life a little easier, and take some time on Saturday or Sunday, or whatever day is your day before the start of the week, and plan your meals and grocery shopping.

Be nice to yourself. I’m guessing you work hard all day, all week. Don’t come home after a long day and stress yourself out more by trying to figure out what’s for dinner.  Maybe you have a spouse, partner or roommate who will see your meal plan hanging on the fridge and think, “Huh, we’re having spaghetti tonight. How about I start boiling the pasta water for my master chef”. How nice would that be?!

Give it a try. Start planning. Start making lists. See what happens with your life….it might get a little easier. You might have some spare time in the evening to go for a walk, read a book, or watch Real Housewives of whatever city is on right now.

See what happens with your budget. You might not spend, or waste as much money by eating out or throwing away wasted food. Maybe you could start saving for that vacation, new pair of shoes or iPad that you really want.

I believe that “failing to plan is planning to fail”. So have a plan. And sometimes, have a back-up one too.

How do you decide what’s for dinner? Do you typically have a meal plan? Do you eat more meals at home or dining out?



  1. I make a mental note of what meals I may want to cook or try (It changes through the week…. belueve me!)….. no matter what, I have to USE whatever is in the fridge or veggie basket. Sometimes I amaze myself at my creativity if I do say so myself!

    • Yvonne, some of my best “recipes” have been the result of culinary creativity….a.k.a. making a meal out of whatever was left in the fridge and pantry!

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