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.
Today’s feature on How I Eat is Emily from A Nutritionist Eats. I’m so excited she was willing to stop by in the midst of her family’s transition from LA to Minnesota! She has two cute little girls and a healthy, simplified approach to eating–not just for adults, but for kids as well. I wish we lived close by–I think playdates together would be a blast. Read on to learn more about Emily’s simple, old-school approach to meal planning (that totally works! It’s very similar to my method, that I should share with you too.). She’s got great ideas, delicious recipes, and a fun new meal planning service launching soon. I think you’ll love hearing from Emily!
Tell us about yourself. Who are you cooking for? What else influences how you get meals on the table?
I’m a Nutritionist and mom so I plan meals that are nutritionally balanced – and of course, family-friendly!
What meals do you plan?
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.
- 16-18: I eat out 3-5 times per week, maybe a few days for lunch or so.
What is your basic meal planning method?
In an ideal world, I check out what we have in the freezer and/or pantry and try to build a meal around that and I always start by figuring out what nights we need dinner – or what nights we’re going out/have something going on. I always have a huge list of recipes I want to try and test, so I’ll usually use weeknight dinners as an opportunity to test recipes that I’m working on. I also mix recipes that are super fast with ones that take a little bit longer – it seems like there are always nights when dinner needs to be on the table in 15 minutes.
What are your favorite weeknight meals?
Panko Crusted Fish – This easy fish takes about 15 minutes and is SO tasty!
Easy Baked Ziti – My easy baked ziti is a super satisfying and comforting meal. And who doesn’t love pasta?
One Pot Mexican Quinoa – I love when meals come together in one pan or pot – less dishes and mess! This one is full of flavor and little ones will have fun topping their bowl!
What are your “no-brainer” meals? Or what meals do you make when there’s “nothing” to eat?
I always (or hopefully!) have sprouted bread, eggs, pasta, and a jar of pesto in the cupboard, so I’ll often make fried egg sandwiches or pasta with pesto. In meals like this, the veggie might be as simple as baby carrots!
Do you use any tools to help you create your meal plan and/or execute it?
- I use old-school paper and pen!
Is there anything you would like to elaborate on from the previous question?
I like to sketch out meals and grocery list on the same sheet of paper! It’s old-school, but it works for me! I think that’s the important piece too, find a method that works for you!
What is your best advice for someone who is just starting to meal plan?
I would suggest to start simple, you don’t need to strive for perfection! Start by planning three dinners a week and some breakfast and lunches.
Anything else you want to add?
I’m launching a meal plan service soon – let me know if you need any help when it comes to meal planning or want to try it out for free! Read more about this service here… and get the yummy recipe for Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken and two meal ideas for it! (Sarah’s note: I think Emily’s meal planning service sounds AWESOME and fills a great niche… cook once, eat twice – simplified meal plans for busy families.)
Thank you, Emily! I love your approach to simple, balanced, healthy eating. You always inspire me to introduce new foods to my son. Your tips about feeding kids (that appear regularly in your Instagram stories, for my readers who haven’t met you before today) are always so helpful! Your oldest daughter is just a little older than my son so it’s great to see that example and get ideas.