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 Dallas from Day By Day Masterpiece. Dallas and I found each other’s blogs online a long time ago, and we actually met up for coffee when she was in grad school at Purdue, in my hometown of West Lafayette, Indiana. She’s so sweet and I can’t wait for you guys to meet her!
Tell us about yourself. Who are you cooking for? What else influences how you get meals on the table?
I’m a 30-year-old newlywed who is building a business as an author, blogger, teacher and writing coach. No two days are the same and both my husband and I often get home in the evenings right around dinner time, so preparing ahead is key for us! My husband loves meat but I have gradually convinced him more and more of the deliciousness of hearty veggie meals. We generally eat meat only 1-2 times a week. Eating healthy, fresh food is so important to me, which is how I got into blogs like The Pajama Chef! My husband and I are also trying to save money to pay off student loans, so limiting our meals out has been a big help.
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.
- 21: I make all my own food and very rarely eat out.
What is your basic meal planning method?
I keep it simple– I use a whiteboard on our fridge.
What are your favorite weeknight meals?
One of my favorite things to do is throw a bunch of veggies, beans, maybe a grain like barley or some pasta, broth and spices into the crock pot in the morning, and then when I get home that evening a nourishing soup is waiting. I call this “Kitchen Sink Soup” and it’s a great way to use up leftovers or veggies on their last legs! (Note from Sarah: here’s a recipe for something similar if you need some measurements. But soups like this are SO forgiving!)
What are your “no-brainer” meals? Or what meals do you make when there’s “nothing” to eat?
I love simple meals like scrambled eggs, salads, soups and veggie-filled pastas.
Do you use any tools to help you create your meal plan and/or execute it?
- Meal planning whiteboard or chalkboard
- Home meal delivery service (e.g. Blue Apron or HelloFresh)
- Freezer or batch cooking
- Weekend meal prep
Is there anything you would like to elaborate on from the previous question?
We only use Blue Apron every 6 weeks or so, as a special treat. It’s a fun date night to cook together and try new recipes! I like to make big dishes– crock pot soups, chilis, casseroles– and freeze a large portion so we always have leftovers ready to go in the freezer for busy days.
What is your best advice for someone who is just starting to meal plan?
Little by little can really add up! You don’t have to jump into the deep end right off the bat. Even taking 15 minutes at the beginning of the week to sketch out a brief plan for your meals– even just one meal a day– can really help you feel so much more prepared and less stressed, not to mention healthier!
Anything else you want to add?
Thank you for asking me to participate! 🙂
Thank you, Dallas! I love your encouragement to start simple. Little changes can add up to big results! Freezing large portions of big meals (like chili) is so helpful. We do that too! I think I need to give Blue Apron (or something similar) a try for date night–you’re the second guest on this series who has mentioned that. Sounds so fun!! Please check out Dallas online–she’s a wonderful writer! And she also shares tasty treats from time to time. 🙂