"I want to meal plan, but I just don't have a whole, free day to do it."
"I want to prepare all my meals in advance, but for our family that would take too long and take up too much space."
"I want to have more home-cooked meals, but I just don't have the time."
"I want to eat healthier, but it is just too expensive."
^ Statements patients or loved ones have told me.
Let me try & help!
I love Sundays! To me, it's a day dedicated to resting and recharging for the week ahead. That being said, I don't want to spend my wholeee Sunday cooking or preparing food, and I know others don't as well. We all need to relax and enjoy ourselves a little bit, too. #Wellness
Today, I am sharing my whole Sunday afternoon process of planning meals for the week, how I grocery shop, and how I get fresh produce and organic food in my cart on a low-budget grocery bill. I hope this helps someone else out there feel more confident in this area of wellness!
(If you don't have Sundays free, choose another day where you have extra time.)
"A Sunday well spent brings a week of content."
Now, my husband and I travel back and forth a lot on the weekends since we live away from family and friends. Those weekends, I shamelessly need: a.) my husband, b.) my Mom, c.) Clicklist & ready-prepared healthy foods, or d.) all the above, to help me with a week of healthy meals... #Human
Read more on how I throw quick meals together without any preparation and/or what I keep in my kitchen for "backup" options: Meals for Failed Plans and Busy Times
Read more about preparing food with limited time: Conquer Healthy Eating with Limited Time, My Take on Meal Planning
*This post is how I spend my Sundays when we are not traveling, ...and how I will get to spend all Sundays once we are back home with family and friends (*Insert: praise hands emoji* #CountryRoadsTakeUsHome). This kind of Sunday leaves me feeling prepared, organized, and rested for the week ahead... A simple Sunday fills up my cup! Keep reading to virtually spend a Sunday afternoon in the kitchen with me. :)
*Don't fret: This looks like a lot because it is numbered and in writing. This whole process takes me anywhere between 1-3 hours, depending on how much food I prepare. Like stated above, use this as a template, take what works for you and adjust to fit your lifestyle. Having a plan helps tremendously, but always leave wiggle room for yourself because $**t happens.
1. Assess the Fridge:
What food needs to be used within the next week? What food/drink needs to be thrown out?
2. Throw Out Old Stuff:
Usually on Sunday we have bites of leftovers, a couple pieces of rotten produce, or some outdated food and drink. I like quickly cleaning out the fridge before I go to the store because it makes putting away the new groceries a better experience. *With planning ahead you limit food waste, so it should be minimal!
3. Plan Meals:
Utilizing any food that needs used up, I plan out the meals for the week. I use recipes from memory, make something up, or flip through cookbooks that have quick meals or use the crockpot (SkinnyTaste: One and Done is my current favorite!). Be sure to write down the page number or where you got your recipe...
Example of this week: 1) A lot of celery leftover = Chicken salad for lunch. 2) Greens that would go bad within the next week = A pasta recipe where I can throw those in. 3) A ton of eggs = Hard boiled eggs for breakfast 4) Pizza sauce ingredients, yeast, and flour in pantry = Homemade pizzas
4. Make a List:
Making a list is the most important thing for staying on budget, being able to prepare homemade meals with limited time, and reducing waste. From the meals you planned, create a list for what you need. *I visualize the store in my head, and make my list go in order of the store. **For our homemade pizzas, I will go back to store Friday to get the meat and cheese. I accounted for this in my "grocery bill total" below.
5. Write it Down:
Write down your meal plans where you & your family can see them!
6. Search for Coupons:
From my list, I look for coupons. I have physical coupons that Kroger sends out in the mail, and I use the Kroger app to search all items on my list. (This is super simple because you can just click "save to card", when you enter your card # at checkout the coupons instantly apply to your order.) Lastly, I jot down what brands to get for coupons (seen in orange on list above).
Example: With coupons, I am able to buy high quality goods (like organic meat and milk!) on a budget. For produce, I usually buy conventional and just make sure to thoroughly wash it/cut off skin. Every once in awhile I buy organic produce, local meat, or local produce (This is more easily done in the summer with farmer's markets).
This week's grocery bill= $95.00
(I subtracted household items & note that I had some food already).
$95.00 / 54
Sunday-Sunday = 7 days [(7 days x 2 people) x (3 meals + 1 snack)] = 56 - Out to eat Saturday meal (2) = 54
= $1.76 average per meal/snack
This weekly total is in between the "low-cost" and "thrifty" weekly costs according USDA's average American food cost for Nov. 2018 (Click Here)! Keep in mind, this is not accounting for the one evening out (with happy hour deals!), but even with a night out included the weekly total is still economical for the quality.
7. Reusable Bags:
*I don't always remember to grab these before I go!* When I do remember, I feel like a champ because I am reducing plastic waste AND it really helps with carrying in groceries.
8. Go to the Store:
Go! *Or use Clicklist if you need to! :)* I don't have little kiddos yet and thankfully my legs and lungs work, so I actually (really!) enjoy physically going to the store. It is one of my favorite ways to add movement to my Sunday (Blog: Simply Add Movement to Your Day).
9. Grocery Shop:
Make your cart colorful!
Now, once at the store I am able to compare labels and compare prices. If something on my list can be swapped for a cheaper option without sacrificing nutrition and quality, I do that.
I always start in the produce section, then move to the deli/bakery, meat, going up and down the middle aisles along the way, I end with dairy foods and any household items. Food Safety Note: Keep meat in bags and away from produce, you don't want bacteria-rich meat juice leaking on your grapes, apples, etc.
Example: This week, I had salmon on the menu, but after I decided on the good quality, organic chicken I wanted to cut back on seafood price. Therefore, I chose Wild-Caught Mahi Mahi (Only ingredient: Mahi Mahi). See below. Budget Note: Having a meatless meal or cutting back on quantity of meat in a meal are other things I frequently do to eat healthy on a budget.
Example #2: I just put "bread" on my list. I wanted to have bread in the kitchen to use for chicken salad sandwiches or to have toast with breakfast. I typically choose Food for Life: Ezekial Bread or Dave's Killer Bread. Today, Simple Truth bread was on sale for $2.50. I compared labels and chose the one with the most nutrients and fiber (multigrain ready to bake loaf). See below.
10. Unload and Put Away:
Simple as that... Recruit your family to help if needed!
I usually make a coffee or tea and/or have lunch/snack before I do any preparation.
12. Turn on Music:
Music just makes everything better.
Sometimes I prepare dinner, lunch for the beginning of the week, and breakfast for the week. This depends on how easy the recipes are and how much time I am wanting to spend.
Don't feel like you have to prepare everything!
Think: What could I prepare to make tomorrow easier? Then just do the minimum.
Example: This week I made iced tea (just tea & local honey!), boiled eggs, and chicken salad. That's it. It took about 35 minutes (counting cook time).
14. Enjoy Your Sunday:
Do something that will help you relax today! Maybe it's a bath, laundry, praying and journaling, watching a movie, reading a book, just chillin' with your love, dancing to rap songs, drinking some herbal tea, or having a glass of wine.
*I am currently sitting on the couch with no makeup, zit cream on (I. Hate. Acne.), hair up, sipping on an awesome bourbon cocktail my husband made us, and some good tunes playing. The blinds are open and the afternoon sun is peeping through. Dinner is made. Tomorrow's lunch is made. A simple Sunday.
You do You!
chicken salad Recipe!