Meal Planning for ONE

meal planning for oneA common challenge I hear from those who cook for themselves is meal planning & how to prep the right amount so you don’t have to eat tacos 5 nights in a row (though I wouldn’t be opposed to that) or see food go bad. Rather than re-invent the wheel I turned to some fellow dietitian bloggers who have already written on these topics to provide plenty of ideas & tips.

Food Prep by The Lean Green Bean
I’ve been following Lindsay for years and she is the queen of meal prep. If you don’t have time to check out all of the articles below then this is your one-stop shop. The link to this particular post is a round-up of posts she’s done on the following topics:

  • How To Food Prep – 5 Tips For Beginners
  • Top 10 Foods For Sunday Food Prep
  • 10 Foods That Freeze Well
  • How to Prep Food on the Weekend
  • Weekend Prep for Easy Weekday Meals
  • How to Eat Healthy in College
  • How to Eat Healthy During the Week
  • Healthy Snack Ideas
  • 12 Ways To Use Leftovers

Need some meal ideas for your toddlers? She’s got you covered:

  • A Month of Toddler Meal Ideas
  • 40 Healthy Toddler Meals
  • 50+ Toddler Meal Ideas (free PDF)

Soup Swap by Smart Nutrition

3 Strategies for Making Quick, Healthy Meals by Whole Green Wellness
This article has a plant-based emphasis FYI.

How to Simplify Meal Planning by Food, Pleasure, and Health

Free E-Book on the first steps of meal planning by Nourish Nutrition Co

Weekly Dinner Meal Plans (Pinterest Board) by The Spicy RD

5 Ways to Eat Less Processed Food by Katie Cavuto
Plus a meal prep cheat sheet

If you’d like additional help with implementing healthy meal prep and planning tips please fill out this form and I’ll help you get started.

What method is helpful to you when cooking for one?

Save time: Pack your lunch the night before

Show of hands- how many of you pack your lunch? Have you read my article about saving $2,000-$3,000 per year just by packing your lunch? I pack a lunch for Dave & myself the night before work because I found that it saves me SO much time. If you’ve been following Budget for Health for awhile, you’ve already taken a look inside my cute pink & white striped lunch box. Now I’ll share the process of lunch packing and how I knock it out in ten quick minutes.

Pack your lunch right after dinner
Some nights I’d put leftovers in a big container but morning comes along and I end up moving them from a big container to two little ones for Dave’s & my lunch, therefore unnecessarily dirtying a dish. Now I just scoop out leftovers into containers that will go right into our lunch bags. It also means you only do dishes once after dinner instead of after dinner and after packing lunch in the morning.

Plan ahead
To save even more time, I chop up a bunch of vegetables and put them in a big container so i can just grab a handful and throw them in a bag for lunch. This past Sunday I chopped up a honeydew melon, radishes, broccoli, and carrots.

Get everything you need out in the open
I wonder if this saves much on my energy bill. I used to open my fridge 23,489 times while I packed lunch because I’d forget to get something out, put one thing back at a time, and stare inside the fridge once I was done to see if I forgot anything else. I pull out every food item I’ll use, any silverware used to scoop or spread, and all the containers I need. I got a deal on the individual Ciobani yogurts this week but you’d usually see a 32-ounce container and mini Tupperware containers to put it in and top with some frozen fruit (<– did you see my cute muffin-portions of frozen chopped mango??).

get everything out you'll needSorry the picture of the final product below is a little dark. You can see Dave’s turkey & cheese sandwich, a PBJ (a must-have in every single lunch…that giant jar of PB was actually a gift from friends for Dave’s birthday. Did I mention we love peanut butter?), leftover Santa Fe Quinoa salad we made for a tailgate this weekend, veggies, hummus, and yogurt. It’s a ton of food, I know. The total for this lunch comes out to 1350 calories, 42g fat, 188g carbs, 61g protein. I should note that Dave eats this over the course of his 9.5 hour day at work…9am PBJ, 11:30 sandwich/fruit/veggies/hummus, 3pm quinoa/yogurt. He’s a bottomless pit, but he also needs about 3,000 calories per day to maintain that strong, handsome body of his 😉

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What makes your lunch packing routine faster? What’s in your lunch for tomorrow?

Italian Sausage & Roasted Vegetable Calzone

Roasted vegetables on Monday=  leftovers for calzones on Tuesday!

Dave & I went to Trader Joe’s this weekend and got some 2-buck chuck wine, cereal, and pre-made whole wheat pizza dough (a very random grocery list, I know). It was $1.99 for the dough and all I had to do was roll it out and stuff it. We had some cooked Italian sausage and spaghetti sauce in the freezer since I cooked it all but only used half for a previous recipe.

I didn’t have any specific recipe, I just used what I already had on hand- Italian seasoning, garlic powder, leftover roasted vegetables, canned mushrooms, mozzarella, Italian sausage, and some kale I sautéed. I brushed the calzones with egg white to give it a shiny look and make the crust crispier. They came out perfect after 15 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit and we dipped them in the leftover spaghetti sauce (close enough to marinara). The store nearby had strawberries on sale again, so we had a salad on the side with some walnuts I toasted on Monday and some balsamic vinaigrette.

The rest of our week in terms of meal planning looks like leftovers (we made 4 calzones and have 2 left), leftover barbeque shredded chicken made in the crockpot, and breakfast because eggs and french toast are so cheap and easy!

What do you have planned for meals this week?