Tag Archives: make a plan

Two-Week Minimalist Meal Plan

Have a poke around Pinterest or a scroll through YouTube and you’ll soon find that there are a million and a half ways to meal plan.

Today, I’d like to talk about just one of them. This rather minimalist approach to meal planning involves selecting “default meals” for each dinner of the week. That way, when the 5 o’clock, “I’m too tired to think about what’s for dinner rolls around,” you’re already sorted. And because rotating through JUST seven dinners can feel a bit limiting for some, I thought it might be fun to explore the possibilities of a TWO-WEEK minimalist meal plan.

A few breakfast, snack, and lunch options for each week. 14 dinners. Sounds easy enough right? There are plenty of opportunities for substitutions and mild modifications to keep things interesting. And the best part? If you’re out for the night and won’t be preparing dinner — just skip that night’s dinner. You can pick it back up the next time the day rolls around.

Here’s what I came up with…

Week One –

Breakfast

At home (think-weekends): Greek yogurt bowls with banana, berries, and granola

On the run (think-week days): Green smoothies or toast with nut butter and fruit

 

Lunch

At home: Black bean quesadillas with avocado and fruit

Packed: Salad in a jar with whole wheat crackers

 

Snacks

Ants on a log, veggies with hummus, and “energy” date balls

 

Dinner

Monday: Chili and cornbread

Tuesday: Deconstructed cabbage rolls and steamed broccoli

Wednesday: Roast chicken (or rotisserie) and root veggies

Thursday: Pasta and salad

Friday: Tacos (or taco bowl) and corn (or corn chips with guac)

Saturday: Soup and garlic bread and salad

Sunday: Breakfast for dinner

 

Dessert

Daily treat: a couple squares from a bar of dark chocolate

Special treat: Banana “nice” cream

 

Week Two-

Breakfast

At home: Pancakes

On the run: Egg cups with fruit or apple cinnamon steel cut oats

 

Lunch

At home: Chicken salad over greens with fruit

Packed: Leftovers

 

Snacks

Fruit, roasted chickpeas, air-popped popcorn

 

Dinner

Monday: Thai food

Tuesday: Hummus tuna melt and steamed broccoli

Wednesday: Buffalo chicken nuggets and sweet potato tots

Thursday: Steak and roasted potatoes

Friday: Black bean burgers and fries and kale salad

Saturday: Homemade pizza

Sunday: Shop the pantry/fridge and throw something together!

 

Dessert

Daily treat: a couple squares from a bar of dark chocolate

Special treat: chocolate chip cookies

The above is an example of a Two-Week Minimalist Meal Plan that would work for me and my family. To create your own, think about the types of dinners you turn to time and time again. Which do you enjoy cooking? Which ones taste delicious at the end of a busy day? Happy meal planning!

Do any of you meal plan? Would you consider this minimalist approach?

Advertisements

Quick + Easy Meal Plan for One on a Budget (Vegan)

If you didn’t already know, my sister Katie wrote a musical! I know, right?! *Badass alert* She recently found out that Full the Musical was accepted to The New York City International Fringe Festival this August. So, on top of her full time job she’s also running around like a mad woman doing all the million and one things that need to happen to get a production ready for the bright lights of the big city. (Including, but not limited to; rehearsing, costuming, hustling, and coordinating travel from FL->NYC.) I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

full the musical

She mentioned to me that in the midst of all that madness she felt it was still important to throw down on some food prepared in her own kitchen. And I totally agree. Healthy fuel and a happy wallet are key components to this season of her life. But the perfect meal plan needed to be easy and non-brain-draining. (As well as reserve a few meals for eating out. Ya gotta be realistic, people!)

I told Katie, “Leave it to me, sistah!” You see, I LOVE creating meal plans. It feels like putting together a really satisfying puzzle. In case you have a similarly hectic week coming up, I thought I’d share what I put together for her.

And if you don’t? Thank your lucky stars. Cook elaborate meals. Revel in your free time. And then dig in your pockets to help out this amazing show. (Please and thanks!) 

Shopping List –

Oats

2 containers of coconut (or any non-dairy) yogurt

Almond milk

Bananas

Fruit of choice that is on sale/in season

1 onion

1 potato

1 sweet potato

1 (14 oz) can of coconut milk

1 loaf of bakery bread (freeze whatever you won’t be using this week)

Earth Balance

Red lentils

Basmati rice

Garlic

Avocados

Peanut butter

Hummus

Pita Chips (and/or crunchy dipping veg like bell peppers or baby carrots)

Tofu

A couple of on sale/in season veggie choices for sauteeing (think: peppers, zucchini, etc)

1 frozen meal option (think: pizza, Indian food, gnocchi, etc)

1 dessert option (like Joe Joe’s from Trader Joe’s!!!)

(Note: I didn’t include spices or cooking oil on this list so check the recipes to make sure you have all items on hand.)

Meal Plan –

Monday

Breakfast –

Overnight oats (prepare 4 jars on Sunday night. In each jar goes ½ cup of oats, ½ cup of almond milk, and ½ of one yogurt container + whatever extras you want to add – cinnamon, cocoa powder, mashed banana, nuts. In the morning you can top with fruit and a spoonful of nut butter, if you like.)

Lunch –

Out.

Dinner –

Sweet Potato Curry Soup

(Saute chopped onions in a little cooking spray in a large pot over high heat. Add a pinch of salt. Once onions are translucent, add chopped potato, chopped sweet potato, 1 Tbsp curry powder, 1 cup water, and 1 can coconut milk. • Bring mixture to a boil, turn down heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender. • Blend or mash mixture to desired consistency.)

Serve with a slice of toasted bakery bread with lots of Earth Balance!

Tuesday

Breakfast –

Overnight oats

Lunch –

Leftover sweet potato curry soup with another slice of bread and a serving of fruit.

vegan meal plan 2

Dinner –

Lentils and Rice

(Ingredients:

1 ½ cups red lentils, 7 cups water, 4 garlic cloves, 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp cinnamon, 2 cups basmati rice , 1 tsp salt + avocado on top per serving

Recipe:

Add lentils, water, garlic and spices to a pot over medium high heat. Cook for 25 minutes, until lentils are soft. Add rice and salt. • Return to a boil, turn heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes. • Top with avocado!)

Wednesday

Breakfast –

Overnight oats

Lunch –

Leftover Lentils and Rice w/ a serving of fruit.

Dinner –

Out.

Thursday

Breakfast –

Overnight oats

vegan meal plan 1.0

Lunch –

Peanut butter and banana sandwich with pita chips and fruit.

Dinner –

Leftover Lentils and Rice

vegan meal plan 3

Friday

Breakfast –

Avocado toast

avotoast

Lunch –

Out.

Dinner –

Brekky for dinner: Tofu scramble, toast w/ nut butter, and fruit salad (your fruit selection for the week and banana…drizzle with honey if you like!)

Saturday

Breakfast –

Pancakes

(Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats, 1 ripe banana, 2/3 cup non-dairy milk, + peanut butter for topping

Recipe:

Blend together oats, banana and water. • Add batter to a skillet preheated to medium high heat. • Cook as you would normal pancakes, flipping when bubbles start to form on the side. • Top with peanut butter!)

Lunch –

Out.

Dinner –

Saute vegetables and tofu in a pan with soy sauce. Serve with rice and sriracha.

Sunday

Breakfast –

Pancakes

Lunch –

Leftover stir-fry.

Dinner –

Frozen meal.

SNACKS FOR THE WEEK:

Pita chips and crunchy veggie of choice with hummus.

DESSERTS FOR THE WEEK:

Dessert option and banana soft serve.

And there you have it! What do you think? Would this meal plan work for you? Do you have any tips + tricks for eating well when you’re balls deep in busy? Ya girl is all ears. 

P.S. No but for real, you should DONATE to Katie’s show. Those set pieces aren’t gonna haul THEMSELVES to The Fringe Festival. Thank you!

P.P.S. Love meal plans? Here’s another one that’s super budget friendly and here are 7 easy steps for beginner meal planners!

Meal Planning for Beginners in 7 Easy Steps

Think you’re too broke, too lazy, or too culinary clueless for meal planning? Think again! Follow these 7 steps and you’ll be well on your way to an easy week of meals.

1. Choose 2 breakfasts.

Select two breakfast options. One will bear the brunt of your breakfasting so you’ll want to choose something that’s quick, filling, and economical. I don’t think anything fits that bill better than oatmeal but of course toast, smoothies, or cereal are great options as well. The other breakfast is more of a treat. When it comes to the broke, lazy, and clueless categories listed above; I fall into the lazy camp. So a treat for me would be greek yogurt with a few toppings (like granola and fruit). It takes even less time to prepare than my ol’ work-horse oatmeal but it’s also not as cheap. Therefore, I would choose it as my secondary option. You could of course get fancier with pancakes, omelettes, or whatever you like. But just stick to two for the week!

2. Pack your lunch.

Plan to bring your lunch along to work or school. This will keep you from dipping into your pocketbook for restaurant or cafeteria fare but will also make sure you have a healthy option on hand. You can control your food’s ingredients if YOU are the one who prepares it. Below is an example of a work-week’s worth of lunches. Think of your packed lunches as a puzzle with three parts:

  1. An entree – like a salad or sandwich
  2. A fruit or veggie side
  3. Something extra to help keep you full – like a protein or healthy fat

work lunch meal plan

3. Use leftovers whenever possible.

Incorporate leftovers from your dinners into your lunches whenever possible. Salads are great for this. Throw some leftover taco filling on top of some greens and veggies and you’ve got a taco salad! Or include a smaller portion of the protein or veggie you had for dinner as one of your side items.

Weekend lunches are more of a free-for-all without a set plan. Dedicate these meals to eating up the rest of your leftovers! Or if you’ve done a really great job on using them up throughout the week, take the opportunity to treat yourself. (More on that below!)

4. Plan a week of dinners and REPEAT.

Now I know this might seem crazy. But if you fall into one (or all) of the broke, lazy, and clueless categories then consider how helpful this may be. Choose 7 possible meals that you can cycle through week after week. Perhaps this sounds limiting but I really believe in decision fatigue. Especially where the daily 4 o’clock “Oh God, what am I gonna have for dinner?” question is concerned. Why not make it easy on yourself? Now I’m not saying you pick 7 recipes and make those recipes to the LETTER over and over for the rest of all time. Select meals that allow you to expand or simplify as needed. Meals that allow you to switch it up when you want to or stick to old, tried and true favorites when you’re exhausted and over it. Let’s go through the examples below…

dinner meal plan menu

  • Spaghetti – This is a dish I can make with my eyes closed so it’s perfect for Monday nights. If I feel like switching it up I can use my spiralizer to make zucchini noodles or I can switch out the ground beef/turkey for veggies. I could make meatballs or a traditional bolognese or even a lentil bolognese. I can have the spaghetti with a big salad or breadsticks or even a caprese.
  • Beans & Rice – I can alternate between a Cajun style and a Cuban style. I could do baked beans and switch the rice out for toast. I can serve any of these with a side of whatever veggie is on sale or in season.
  • Breakfast for Dinner –  Scrambled eggs with fruit and toast or biscuits. Blueberry waffles or pancakes with bacon and yogurt. The possibilities are endless (and cheap) and everyone has their favorites when it comes to breakfast.
  • Tacos – You can do hard tacos or soft, tacos in a bowl (ie. haystacks), or everything served over chips instead of in a shell. Taco salads for a healthier spin. Keep them vegetarian or do them with pork, chicken, ground beef, or fish. There’s no paying extra for guac when you’re at home. Just whip some up!
  • Pizza – Topping choices galore so pick your poison! If you’re feeling especially not into it, pick up a frozen pizza or a pre-made but uncooked number from the deli at your grocery store. Or make it yourself. OR make it yourself on top of pita bread or bagels. Wanna up your veggie intake? Serve some crudites with ranch or hummus for dipping as a side.
  • Mac & Cheese – You might be feeling some comfort food on Saturdays. Mix butternut squash into the sauce or add peas. Make it super kid friendly with hot dogs or elevate it with bacon and caramelized onions.
  • Dinner on a board – Super easy and no cooking involved. A perfect way to ease into a new week. Think: Salami, cheeses, grapes, cornichons, crusty bread, etc. Yum!

You don’t have to use these meals/ideas. Create your own! And you can always switch them out or around as needed just in case you get bored or want to expand your horizons.

5. Find a few snacks that suit you.

Better to be prepared than suffer later! Just like with breakfast you’ll want to choose a few options for the week. I like to choose one that’s customizable and economical, like popcorn. Super cheap and you can make it sweet, savory, or spicy for whatever you’re feeling when the snacking urge hits. Then I like to choose another option that’s quick and filling. This is what you’ll pull out in case you’re HANGRY. My go-to for this is Lara bars but any sort of throw-it-in-your-bag snack would work. I also like to keep some bananas or baby carrots on hand for something healthy to munch on.

6. Commit to making one dessert item a week.
You can munch on whatever you make all week, serve it to unexpected guests or save it to bring with you to an event or for someone’s birthday at work. No need to get crazy… think: chocolate chip cookies, brownies, no bakes, simple cupcakes, fruit pies or crumbles. I share Michael Pollan’s belief that if you make it at home it’s probably not all that bad. Let’s not kid ourselves. You’re gonna want dessert. So, plan for it, make it at home, and then enjoy!
peanut butter chocolate no bake recipe
(recipe via Food Network.)
7. Treat yourself.

Finally, find ways to “go out to eat” that don’t involve the full-on dinner, drinks, and dessert rigamaroll. Complete restriction is a recipe for failure. Here are some ideas:

  1. Treat yourself to a nice coffee on the weekend over a good book or the newspaper.
  2. Treat yourself to an after-work happy hour drink for a catch-up chat with a co-worker or friend.
  3. Treat yourself to a supermarket lunch on Saturday afternoon. Think: salad bar, sushi, or a deli sandwich. Maybe even grab a cookie from the bakery or a fresh piece of fruit. Wash it down with your favorite drink.
  4. Treat yourself to an evening walk around your neighborhood that involves a quick stop-off at the ice cream parlor.

Choose one or two of these indulgences each week and you’ll find yourself much more capable of sticking to your plan.

Alright, over to you guys. Do you meal plan? Any tips you would add to this list?