Eat for the week: Meal planning strategies

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I have been married for five months. My husband eats like a truck driver and I eat like what I think to be normal portions. It took me a bit to figure out how to cook for two and how to cook portions so when divvied out, my husband had enough to eat. Here’s some things I’ve learned along the way.

Leftovers are your friend.

My husband and I make dinner almost every night and I make enough so that we have lunch the next day. No need to hurry and assemble something; after dinner we put everything in indivual containers and lunch is ready for the next day.

The Mayo Clinic suggests that you eat leftovers within three to four days. If you don’t think you’ll eat them within that time-frame, pop it in the freezer.

You can freeze soups, casseroles, chili and most cooked dinners freeze well. I’ve also put milk and bread in the freezer if I find them on sale and have a loaf or carton open already.

You can always dress up leftovers to give them new flavors, too. For example, we made this ranch chicken bake and it wasn’t as good for some reason, so I took the chicken and added it to pasta and poured some alfredo sauce and voila, a new dish.

Make batches.

I’m a huge salad eater, but sometimes I’m lazy about chopping up a salad, so I like to chop up my lettuce and keep it in the fridge for the week.

Grab a handful, throw some chopped peppers and onions and it’s easy to assemble. I’ll also make hard boiled eggs for the week, which can be a snack or added to the salad for a nice variety.

I like making my own trail mix that I can make a good amount of with walnuts, dried cranberries and dark chocolate chips. Pinterest has a vast array of breakfast muffins, cookies, yogurt partfaits and bars that you can make at the beginning of the week for a healthy grab’n go snack.

A Crock-Pot and casserole dish will help in making larger meals.

Plan ahead.

I’m naturally a planner. But if you’re not, you might want to get in the habit.

I like to think about my meals and lay them out based on how late I work or if we have a function to attend. We have dishes that we like to eat like taco salad, chicken parmesean, chili, stir fry, soup, BBQ porkchops, flat bread pizzas, etc and I throw in one or two new dishes to try.

I have the meals written on a dry-erase calendar on our refridgerator. It’s nice to glance at it and see what we’re having ahead of time and then I can take a few minutes to prepare and cut down on the time it takes to make the dish later in the week.

One evening we had a simple dinner that only took a few minutes to make, so I started dinner for the next day by cutting up the veggies. Knowing when I’m having meals also helps me grocery shop when I’m pressed for time.

If I go shopping on Sunday, I can pick up everything I need for meals Monday- Wednesday. Yes, it means another trip, but it won’t take a whole afternoon.

Cheers to the adventure of cooking on your own!

LEANN KRYSIAK
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