How I Eat

How I Eat: Using Meal Planning to Cook Healthy Meals for a Family

Welcome to How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People. (If you missed it, click over to read more about this series on The Pajama Chef.) This series is meant to inspire readers (and myself!) with tips and tricks for meal planning and getting dinner on the table. Whether you’re cooking for one or a crowd, I firmly believe that good food shouldn’t be sacrificed just because life is busy.

How I Eat, Michelle: Using Meal Planning to Cook Healthy Meals for a Family

Today’s feature on How I Eat is Michelle from The Runner’s Plate. Michelle’s blog was one of the first I found (many years ago!). She lives in Alaska with her family, and always has great perspectives on running, healthy eating, and life in general. From her about page: “I also consider myself a health nut. I love trying new recipes: baking and cooking things that taste good and are healthy for my family. I am not a vegetarian, despite what many people think. My diet consists of whole grain, vegetables, fruit, lean meats/proteins, and healthy fats. I enjoy a balanced diet and eat healthy 95% of the time.” I’m so glad you guys get to hear her take on meal planning today! Also, she’s my stroller running inspiration. Can you say… 7 miles with the stroller? Wow!

How I Eat, Michelle: Using Meal Planning to Cook Healthy Meals for a Family

Tell us about yourself. Who are you cooking for? What else influences how you get meals on the table?

I cook for my husband and 3 year old son. I love trying new recipes and often cook vegetarian or vegan, but we also eat meat a couple times a week.

What meals do you plan?

  • Dinner

In a typical week, approximately how many meals per week do you plan to eat at home or prepare to take with you (e.g., to work or school)? No shame… curious minds want to know! For this, I would include any food purchased at the grocery store (e.g., rotisserie chicken, bagged salad mix, etc.) but not takeout.

  • 21: I make all my own food and very rarely eat out.

What is your basic meal planning method?

I sit down a few days before the week starts, assess what we already have in the kitchen, and plan out meals for the week depending upon what items need to be used up or items I already have in the freezer, our schedule for the upcoming week, and then plan accordingly.

What are your favorite weeknight meals?

Oh gosh, I am constantly trying new meals. Currently: Bangkok Bowls from Pinch of Yum, quinoa + sauteed veggies + a protein, and Taco Soup in the Crockpot. (Sarah’s note: this vegetarian taco soup from Well Plated is our fave these days. And it only takes 30 minutes on the stove… but you could totally make it in the crockpot.)

View this post on Instagram

Two summers ago, I went on a blogger trip to Cordova, AK to learn about Copper River Salmon with @copperriversalmon. 🐟 The things I learned on that trip have always stuck with me: how passionate those fishermen and women are about their livelihood, the amazing quality the fish is, and the importance of protecting those waters and other fish habitats for future generations. 🌊 • This is the first time since that trip I actually purchased wild-caught Copper River Salmon (which I got from @costco) because the price tag has scared me in the past. 💸 But you know what, this is a high-quality product, local, good for you, and I personally met fishermen/women who work hard for their money, so that makes it worth it to me! 🎣 (⬅️ Not how they actually catch the fish.) Also, these things remind me a lot of the reasons my parents work so hard on their farm to grow food that feeds our country! 👨‍🌾

A post shared by Michelle Baxter (@therunnersplate) on

What are your “no-brainer” meals? Or what meals do you make when there’s “nothing” to eat?

Eggs, quinoa + veggies + protein, pizza.

Do you use any tools to help you create your meal plan and/or execute it?

Free, published meal plans online (from blogs or websites)
Meal planning whiteboard or chalkboard

Is there anything you would like to elaborate on from the previous question?

I will often assess what I already have and then Google those ingredients: broccoli + chicken + rice for ideas.

What is your best advice for someone who is just starting to meal plan?

Figure out why you want to meal plan and let that motivate you to stick with it.

How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People - a new series on thepajamachef.com inspiring YOU in the weekly routine of meal planning!

Thank you, Michelle! I love the point about figuring out why you meal plan. From reading your blog and following you on social media I’m guessing that your why is all about making sure you can easily eat healthy meals–and being organized is how you do that. I also like how you often share easy healthy meal ideas on Instagram especially. Be sure to follow Michelle to see more of her ideas!

Connect with Michelle on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for more inspiration.

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