Do you find it hard to create a meal plan and follow every week?
We can make a hundred excuses to skip meal planning for a week and just go with the flow in our current work lifestyle. Working from home has hit plenty of us hard because of irregular schedules, random sleeping time, and unplanned shopping.
Meal planning can simplify everyday life by creating proper schedules and work-life balance. But in these unprecedented times, we have to stock up on groceries, limit our store visits, and even cook meals without fresh produce for several days.
The other important factor which has made meal planning hard for work-from-home professionals is the budget. We are looking for ways to shop for cheap meals and produce to keep our bodies healthy. If you are wondering whether meal planning can be a worthwhile strategy to implement at home, get the basics right before you plan your meals for the week.
How to Stay on Track with Meal Planning?
It’s fun and interesting to plan meals for a week, but following as a habit is where the problem lies. You can make random meals for weeks and be great about your achievements. But when you compare the shopping bills, you will see a drastic difference in the money you have spent on making random meals.
You need to be smart, dedicated, and calculative when making meal plans and need greater motivation to continue. If you love the concept of meal planning but find it hard to stick to it regularly, follow these tips to become a pro,
Flexibility is the Norm
Remember the times you have been patient with your kids when they attended school or class for the first time? You need to have the same mindset when you are meal planning. This is just one-step-ahead. This is a grown-up individual trying to learn a new art and master. Be kind to yourself.
There’s no pressure on you to stick to a meal plan every week. Embrace flexibility. Appreciate yourself after completing a meal plan for a week. You can meal plan for busier weeks during the start and end of a month as you will have tons of errands to complete. Focus on 15 meals per week and make a list. Cook and freeze for the major weeks of the month and chill on lazier days.
When you constantly put yourself down for not making a meal plan, you will never create a new habit in your life. Be happy that you’re making a meal plan for a week or two at first and slowly increase to four weeks per month and make progress. The more you feel motivated to plan your meals, the easier it will be to stick to meal planning.
Start a Minimal Meal Plan
Who made the weekly meal plan rule? Nobody! It was us who wanted to keep the work-life balance intact. When you look closer, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (mid-week) are the tougher days to manage compared to the weekends. Since we cook a lavish meal on Sundays, we can sort the Mondays with leftovers. The weekend mode starts on Fridays, manage with a simple takeout meal. So, there’s no need to plan meals for 7 days in the beginning.
Start with a minimal meal plan for 2-4 days of the week. Learn to buy, cook, and store food to manage 9-12 meals sufficiently. Set a minimal budget of $5-$10 per week and try planning meals suiting your needs and habits. When you are ready to manage the mid-week crisis smartly with regular meal plans, you can make meal planning a routine in your life.
Maintain a Meal Plan Journal
Whenever you are planning to make a schedule, write the recipes, meals, and ingredients in a separate notebook. A dedicated diary or journal for meal planning can simplify the process of following it regularly. It helps jolt down your ideas in a secure place for finding it at leisure times.
The meal plan journal is your friend in need. Write your family’s favorite recipes, themes, meals, and ingredients. Make a shopping list by taking notes from your journal. Carry it to the store to buy the required ingredients. Print a copy of the meal plan and stick it on your refrigerator for easier access. When maintaining a journal becomes a habit, meal planning will become a breeze.
Plan Meals with Same Ingredients
Won’t it be boring to eat the same food for a week? No, you should use the same ingredients to make different recipes to keep it interesting. Creativity matters the most in meal planning. Find recipes that match with the ingredients. You will get at least a minimum of 3 breakfasts, snacks, lunch, dinner, and dessert ideas. There are plenty of websites, cookbooks, blogs, and videos to research on recipes. Maintain a book of recipes and meal plans for reference.
When you shop for a group of ingredients and make 10 meals for the week, you will save a lot of money and time. If you can make 5-6 meal plans with the same ingredients, you can rotate them at regular intervals to not make it boring for your family. When you run out of time to make a meal plan for a week, use these already-made ones.
How to Manage Meal Planning During Remote Work?
Work from home opportunity is a blessing in disguise. This would be the right time to start the habit of meal planning to enjoy work and home life. If you are one of the few people who love meal planning to the core, but remote work has bombarded your schedules, then use these tips to get back to routine.
• Don’t Shy Away from Repetitions: It’s okay to follow a standard meal plan with repetitive recipes. Don’t worry as long as your kids and loved ones lick their plates clean. Carry a cool head!
• Limit Cooking from Scratch Everyday: Though you have the luxury to be at home, don’t fill your days with kitchen work. Allocate the same timings to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner at one go. Be prudent with time!
• Embrace Leftovers: When your freezer, microwave, gas stove, and oven are within reachable limits, forget the concept of spoilage. Work from home gives you the opportunity to cook any meal and reheat the leftovers before it gets wasted. Use it!
• Stick to Standard Store Visits: Everyday can become a grocery shopping day if you fill your pantry with snacks and perishables. Make a list and shop only twice a month or once a week based on your regular schedule. Don’t overdo!
• Mindset Matters: Don’t let laziness get to you when you work from home. You don’t even need to invest in expensive microwave-safe containers when you work from home. Make time to batch cook meals and store them in air-tight containers. It’s simple to get it done than worry!