Part of it is because I've been meal planning for so long. I started doing it shortly after college, when Nelson and I were living in near poverty and every dollar counted. Our grocery budget was very limited so I had to get as much nutrition in each meal as I could for the least amount of money.
Then, I started Weight Watchers for the first time and I realized that I had to stock my home with healthy foods or I would never have a chance. I also realized that I need to start cooking for real because if I don't keep meals interesting the call of the pizza delivery guy gets really, really hard to resist.
I'm going to admit here that meal planning is a little uncharacteristic for me because I'm neither organized or good at planning. I mean I'm better at organizing and planning than Nelson, but I'm still not very good (Nelson? Terrible.)
(Oh my god this post is boring, no? Whatever, I'm going with it.)
Meal planning has become a cornerstone of weight loss for me, because eating out is one of my biggest vices and it is much easier to eat healthily at home. I generally plan for five or six meals a week; I figure one night we will get take out or have a "quick meal" and/or one night we'll have leftovers.
For example, here is this week's meal plan:
Cuban beef with brown rice (Monday night; delish)
Chicken Parmesan (low-fat) and sauteed zucchini (Last night -my first time making it, and it was great)
Spiced pork loin with a corn and black bean relish
Grilled flank steak and polenta, with a corn and red pepper salsa
Turkey sausage and pepper pasta
Frozen roasted veggie lasagna and a salad(a "quick meal")
Important notes on my meal planning:
1. I never freeze any meat, except chicken breast, which I buy frozen in bulk and turkey meatballs, which I buy frozen. I buy and use fresh meat every week. This saves room in my freezer and having the fresh meat ensures that I'll cook it (because I'd hate for it to go bad) and it saves me from forgetting to defrost things.
2.I try something new every week, to keep things interesting.
3. I cook from recipes almost exclusively because while I'm a pretty good cook and excellent at following directions, I'm not terribly creative in the kitchen.
4. I always have one or two quick meals on hand (something frozen and easy to prepare) if the kids give me a particularly rough day, or I'm just too busy to really cook.
5. I always have nuggets, sweet potato fries, and peas on hand because my kids will almost always eat those things if they refuse whatever I'm cooking. I know not all parents are okay with cooking separate meals for their kids, but I've just cut my losses here. They get their own meal two or three days a week. Grilled cheese, mac & cheese, and cheese toast are also always winners. Anything cheese and/or bread related works for them, really.
6. You've probably noticed there are a lot of pasta-type meals here. Well, I'm Italian and growing up we had pasta several nights a week, so it's the norm for me. Also, my kids will nearly always eat pasta. I always do whole grain, mulit-grain, or 100% whole wheat pasta because we eat it so often. Whole grain pasta has come a long way. It's not the nasty cardboard stuff it used to be, so if you're not eating it with regularity you really should give it a shot. I buy Barilla Whole Grain Pasta in bulk. Don't forget to salt your pasta water generously (like a scant palm-full of kosher salt per pound of pasta.) It makes all the difference.
Okay, so that's all I'm going to say about that for now. So, go forth and plan your meals and eat whole grain pasta. Oh, and tell me: Do you meal plan or not? How does it work for you?