Take the time to plan ahead!
Taking the time to plan ahead regarding your meals can really save you so much time, money and frustration. There are a few different ways to do meal planning depending upon your situation and I’m going to review them in this blog. If you have a method not mentioned in this blog, please share with us all, especially since we’re here to help one another!
Method #1: Cooking and freezing for the week
My sister-in-law (SIL) does this and I think many of you follow this method too. Pick 1-2 meals for the week. Get all the ingredients you need and cook both meals in large quantities in one day. I admire my SIL, she cooks everything on Sundays ahead of the work week for her and her husband.
This is the quickest and most efficient method of meal planning. It takes a good amount of time when you do this, but it’s only once a week and you have lunch (and possibly dinner) for every single day. This saves you money from going out to lunch or wasting food.
In addition to getting the ingredients for this meal planning method, you will need proper storage and space in your fridge. I recommend getting some of these handy containers and lids on Amazon. They’re microwave and dishwasher safe, cheap, and stack well in the fridge and in the cupboard. You can also get similar containers at Costco…I have both and they get used regularly.
The down side of this meal prep method is that you spend a lot of time one day a week and are eating the same meal several times. However, if you don’t mind eating the same meal several times in a row, this really is a great way to meal plan for yourself and your family.
Note: I’ve always wanted to do this. I would need a huge freezer though because I don’t like the same meals too often. Also, when I don’t feel well, I just don’t want to spend an entire day cooking and there really isn’t anyone else to pick up the slack.
Method #2: Meal planning
I recently wrote about Meal Planning and shared an example of my weekly meal plans and a downloadable template that you could use. It’s probably obvious that this is the method I regularly follow. And if I don’t create a formal meal plan, I generally follow something similar in my head.
Meal planning allows you to decide what you want to eat and when. There are notes to remind you of when you defrost certain items…which is really nice, because I like to buy meat in bulk when it’s on sale and freeze it. It even includes a shopping list of the items you will need to buy for the week.
The best part about my plan, and if you’ve seen the plan you probably figured it out, is that I generally make enough dinner to have leftovers for lunch the next day. This means that when I cook I am making 6 meals instead of 3 (my husband, dad and I). I have a constant struggle in life that you probably don’t yet know about me. I love cooking and tend to cook enough for an army. By making adjustments and putting leftovers in the containers mentioned in Method #1, I end up using food that I bought before it goes bad, save time and money, and get a good variety of food in our diets.
The downside of this plan is that I have to cook 5-6 nights per week. I know, don’t be crazy…we plan to eat out because we want to eat out anyway. I’m realistic here about our actual eating habits. It’s really not so bad of a downside as some meals are easier than others and don’t take too much time.
In regards to eating the same meal even twice, many meals can be changed slightly so it’s practically a new meal. For instance, tonight I’m making New York Strip steaks (they were on sale a couple of weeks ago, so I froze them). Between the three of us, we won’t eat the 3 whole steaks that I defrosted. I’m planning to slice the leftover steaks and make steak salads for us all tomorrow. A steak salad is easy…make a salad with keto-friendly veggies and lots of mixed greens, add sliced meat (steak for this example), and include a small side container of salad dressing (usually ranch). My husband will eat like a king tomorrow and I will be happy knowing he’s eating vegetables!
This method also doesn’t leave me with too many leftovers. I don’t have space for lots of leftovers. If we lived in a house we could get a deep freezer and freeze the meat and leftovers in there, but I don’t. I just have a regular fridge with a tiny bit of freezer space.
Method #3: Make what you want, when you want it
This is the method that literally is a no-plan plan. What do you feel like eating? Go to the kitchen and make it. Don’t have the ingredients? Make something else. Did you cook enough for leftovers? Uh oh. Now you have to cook another meal for lunch tomorrow.
This is obviously not a real method, but I think many of us feed ourselves this way and wonder why we’re cooking so much, going to the grocery store so often, and throwing so many groceries away because it’s going bad. I know I fall into this habit on occasion. Do you?
I like to eat what I’m in the mood for. Fortunately, I don’t really have cravings too often any more since I began Keto. This is good because I can make just about anything I want…but if I wasn’t paying attention, that avocado I was going to eat is now dead, the cheese has mold (I’m allergic to mold, but I’ll cut it off if I get a block of cheese and can salvage something), the meat is slimy. Seriously, what a waste to spend the time to buy the groceries and the money to pay for them just to throw them away and leave yourself hungry!
This is not a very good plan, in my experience. It could leave you eating out more, eating processed foods (even if it is keto-friendly) and fairly unsatisfied. Your dinner could end up being a string cheese, some almonds and a cup of chamomile tea because that’s all that is left in the house that’s currently edible.
Save yourself from this method! It’s okay once in a while, but in generally, you really don’t want to do this to yourself.
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