One of my clients posted this photo with the following comment on her Instagram today:
Today I had the pleasure of standing in front of a fridge packed with healthy food thanks to the genius meal planning of @simplysamanthanyc, so I’m replenishing with this lovely plate of goodness. My body says thank you.
Woohoo! You know I love a meal planning victory as much as the next person. And, it got me thinking, there are so many things we can all do to make a difference for ourselves and our bodies throughout the week. I know I’ve been slacking lately, but I’m about to go remedy that now 🙂 If you want to join me, here are some tips that work really well.
Before You Begin Meal Planning
Before you even try to start getting organized around your food for the week, you’ve gotta create some space. Everyone’s fridge tells a story. There’s the old condiments that no one uses, or the olives that expired in 2007. Get rid of it. All of it. You’ve gotta make room for the new, and the only way I know to do that is by cleaning out the old.
Besides, you want to feel good when you open the fridge. The longer you avoid something, the harder it is to tackle. Clutter in the fridge is not your friend. You want your fridge stocked with healthy foods that are easy to get to and easy to see.
What To Put In or Meal Planning Reductionism
I love a good recipe, especially when it’s new flavor combinations that I wouldn’t have thought of naturally. Recipes are great, and so is meal planning. And, there’s a time and a place. A new recipe just isn’t going to cut it when you’re tired and hungry (or hangry, as I like to say). Laying out a super specific meal plan also takes a lot of time, and when you get to the market and they’re out of something, it can throw you for a loop. Sometimes, you just need a quick fix of healthy and nutritious food, and that’s what this post is about. Meal planning reductionism 🙂
Below is a list of 5 foods you can have ready for the week that will ensure that you have food ready whenever you need it.
Eggs. I always suggest that people who eat eggs hard boil a bunch of them in the beginning of the week. They’re great on their own as a snack or breakfast on the go, or you can add them to salads for some extra protein. Plus they will last all week. Can’t beat that!
Root Veggies. Root veggies are very grounding and satisfying and make a great addition to almost any meal. You can bake a bunch of sweet potatoes in the beginning of the week, or chop up and roast a variety of root veggies. You can add them to salads, bake them in frittatas, eat them on their own or with a protein side, make them into a pureed soup or make a hash. There are tons of options and since you already did the hard part (chopping and baking), it will take you no time to do the rest.
Greens. I always recommend that my clients buy a bunch of salad greens in the beginning of the week. If it’s there, most people will eat it. Plus greens are a great base for any meal. I also recommend buying at least one cooking green like kale, Swiss chard or collard greens. Saute with garlic, olive oil, ginger and/or onion for a great side. You can also add cooking greens to soups or stews for some color and added nutrients.
Grains. One of my mantras is “never cook one meal at a time”. If you’re already going to dirty a pot and get some water boiling, you might as well double the recipe and save yourself some time. Making a large pot of grains in the beginning of the week is a great way to ensure balanced and filling meals for the week. I like quinoa or brown rice, but there are tons of other options. You can make them into grain salads, add herbs to liven them up or cook them with some coconut milk or other milk, cinnamon, sweetener and raisins to make a rice pudding for breakfast or dessert. If you make too much, you can always share with a friend or freeze them 🙂 Grains actually freeze really well in an airtight ziplock.
Protein. For vegans and vegetarians who eat legumes, making a pot of lentils or beans in the beginning of the week is a great idea. You can season them simply and then add new flavors to them throughout the week. Some spices that go great with beans or lentils are cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne and chili powder. I like bean or lentil salads with fresh diced veggies and herbs. I also love stews made with root veggies and beans. With the base already made, putting these dishes together is so much quicker.
Based on this list, you have a bunch of stuff you can add to your weekly shopping list each week to make sure that there’s always something ready to eat in the fridge without having to spend a ton of time in the kitchen. It will save you time, money, and your body will thank you! Plus you can keep the same ingredients interesting over time with a few of my tricks.
- Salad Greens
- Cooking Greens
- Lentils or beans (any variety)
- Root Veggies (sweet potato, carrots, parsnips, squash…)
- Grains (quinoa, brown rice, millet…)
I love hearing from you and seeing what you’re creating! If you make something new based on this post, I’d love to see it. You can send me a photo or tag me on Instagram or Facebook @simplysamanthanyc.
For more info on meal planning, download my free guide here. You can also read about my 6 kitchen essentials here.