Since spontaneity is my middle name (not really, but it would be so apropos), I’ve long struggled with planning a whole week’s worth of meals, and then actually *sticking to the plan*. (Where’s the fun in that?)
But I’ve since happily realized that planning and spontaneity can co-exist in meal planning, at least somewhat.
Lessons from Week Two
Last week was my second week straight of meal planning for this eight-week challenge. I’m learning and cementing this habit right alongside my fellow Plan It Like You Mean It friends.
(Because as we already discussed, it saves you both time and sanity – two things I could always use more of.)
How did my week two go? To sum it up: not perfect. The plan I made for last week didn’t quite happen each day. Why? Well, because life, that’s why.
We forgot to defrost the whole chicken in time so we ate the soup leftovers for dinner that were supposed to be for the next day’s lunch, then I didn’t have a proper lunch that day and was super hangry by dinner, at which point I was too grouchy and tired to think of something last-minute to cook, so we grabbed a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, and my momentum kind of just unraveled from there.
Before I started this challenge to myself, I might have called that a huge meal planning fail, and it’s also the kind of thing that would have caused me to give up on meal planning altogether. (Again.)
However, I’m analyzing and taking a bit of a bird’s eye view in this situation, and you know what? I learned something valuable. (Yay me.)
- I learned that an entire week’s worth of meals can depend on whether or not I defrost stuff on time, and that when my iPhone alarm dings at me at 9pm while I’m parked on the couch watching Netflix, I should get up that exact minute and go to the freezer. Even if I don’t feel like it.
- I also learned that it’s important to reserve enough leftovers for lunches because otherwise I get so deeply focused in my work that I forget to eat until 1 or 2pm, at which point I just grab organic corn chips and hummus. This leaves me hangry and dysfunctional by dinnertime, and this is no bueno for anyone. (My family will thank me later for this flash of realization, I’m sure.)
- And lastly, I learned that I should always jot down a no-brainer “backup meal” note at the beginning of each week, and just keep it in mind for when I forget to defrost something and need to roll with the punches (bunless burgers and frozen peas is an example).
Because let’s face it: life isn’t always exactly predictable, and sometimes you just have to be flexible.
Having a plan B option in my back pocket makes it no big deal, and it allows us to be spontaneous whenever we feel like it. (Check out: Quick Healthy Meals Ultimate Guide (101 Tips, Recipes, and Strategies) for all the plan B, C, D… etc tips you might need!)
Is there such a thing as careful spontaneity? Because that’s pretty much what I’m practicing. It’s about finding that balance between disciplining myself to stick to the plan, and allowing myself to be spontaneous because I’ve built in a flexible Plan B ahead of time.
You see – I want to become a consistent meal planner with the ability to follow through, but I don’t actually want to be militant about it. I want to give myself the freedom to occasionally ditch the plan and be spontaneous – but I want to do so without derailing my whole week. It’s a fine line, but I’m learning.
Thankfully, Plan to Eat‘s online meal planner has a drag and drop feature that lets you rearrange meals instantly, which is an absolute must-have for me. Let’s just say that I use this feature liberally.
Bottom line? Make a meal plan, follow through with consistency, but be ready to roll with the punches when life doesn’t go as planned or when you feel like being spontaneous. That way you can keep yourself from getting totally derailed whenever there’s a deviation.
No problemo, right? Onward to Week 3 to put my newfound wisdom to the test!
Here’s what we’re eating this week chez Ricci:
Week 3 Meal Plan
Breakfast: Oatmeal for kids // matcha protein smoothie for parents
Lunch: Sausages and rice
Dinner: Cheesy Mexi Lentil Macaroni (from Don’t Waste the Crumbs)
Breakfast: Eggs for everyone
Dinner: Slow Cooker Coconut Turmeric Chicken
Breakfast: Oatmeal for kids // Matcha Protein Smoothie
Dinner: Garden Chowder
Breakfast: Eggs for everyone
Dinner: Ricci Family Chili
Breakfast: Coconut flour pancakes + smoothie
Dinner: Homemade pizza
Breakfast: Oatmeal or eggs
Lunch: Packed lunch at dance class
Breakfast: Oatmeal or eggs
Lunch: Simple soup
Dinner: Roast chicken & mashed potatoes & veggies
This week I’m seeing how I feel with cooking a new meal each night so that we have plenty of leftovers for lunches. It’s possible that I can triple or quadruple some recipes, and as I figure out which ones work best for that, I can plan one meal’s leftovers more than once in a week – maybe for a lunch, and then a dinner too. (My family doesn’t mind repeats.) I’m taking mental notes on this so I can be strategic about it in the future.
What’s on your meal plan this week?
Feel free to share your meal plan in the Plan It Like You Mean It challenge Facebook group.
This was post #4 in our Plan It Like You Mean It challenge. Here’s the series so far:
- Plan It Like You Mean It (Join Me for an Eight-Week Meal Planning Challenge!)
- Meal Planning & Procrastination (Plan It Like You Mean It, Week 1)
- 4 Meal Planning Tips for When You Want a Break from Cooking (Plan It Like You Mean It, Week 2)
- >> Meal Planning for the Spontaneous-at-Heart Types (Plan It Like You Mean It, Week 3)
P.S. The Plan It Like You Mean It challenge is sponsored by Plan to Eat, because eating at home should be easier!
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