There is no denying that home-cooked meals are important to being mindful about what we eat. Yes eating out is fun on occasion, but it is expensive, taxing on the waistline and often uses lower quality ingredients than what I hope you would buy for your home. However the endless question of what’s for dinner plagues everyone, even me (hard to believe I know…it’s like the cobbler who doesn’t have any shoes). In this post I am going to take you through the steps on how to execute meal planning for much of the week and help ease some stress, yeeeee-haw!

Here is a sneak peek into how we execute personal chef services for our clients. These are the procedures that we use to set up families for 4+ days worth of food. We do this everyday and it works, we promise. If you want to drastically improve your health and reduce your stress level- we are going to show you the steps to kick some culinary a#s and eat well while doing it!

the steps on how to plan and prep your meals for much of the week and help ease some stress, yeeeee-haw!Plan Ahead- Choose a day of the week that gives you a good block of uninterrupted time- this will vary depending on your kitchen prowess and if you have assistance either prepping or cleaning (approx 3-5 hours). Give yourself one shot to see how it goes; you will know better how to plan for the week to follow.

Decide How Many Days/Meals You Need – this depends how much variety you need and if you are going out in the evening at all. Are you looking for Monday –Thursday dinners only? Or perhaps you want to throw some lunch in there as well? Maybe your will be out for dinner on Wednesday but home during the weekend. Our rule of thumb at The Naked Bite is that prepared food lasts about 4 days (you can squeak out 5 with soups and stew-type dishes) but there are many items that freeze beautifully. Make them on Sunday and then Thursday thaw overnight in the fridge, reheat, make a salad and viola…dinner in 20! See tips below for some freezer friendly ideas (FF).

Double Down- most all of us appreciate leftovers, so plan for them! The key to cooking once and eating several times is to prepare a dish but make enough portions to eat two+ full meals, this can go for side dishes and salads as well (dress salad only as needed). Dinner on Monday could be lunch/dinner on Tuesday or Wednesday. See some options below for examples.

Example #1- Lunch & Dinner 4 days
(8 recipes- servings varied on number of people feeding)

Lunch Mon & Wed
Chickpea Salad Wraps with Avocado
Spinach Salad with Tahini Garlic Dressing

Dinner Mon & Wed
Dijon Roasted Chicken with Olives & Potatoes
Steamed Broccoli with Lemon & Olive Oil

Lunch Tues & Thurs
Curried Mixed Veggie & Lentil Soup

Dinner Tues & Thurs
Grass-fed Beef/Turkey Bolognese
Garlic Roasted Spaghetti Squash
Chopped Salad with Sun dried Tomatoes, Cucumber, feta & Red Wine Vinaigrette

Snacks
Mixed Veggie Frittata
Vanilla Chia Pudding

Example #2- Dinners Only- 5 days
(6 recipes- servings varied on number of people feeding)

Dinner Mon
Zucchini Pasta with Sun Dried Tomato Sauce
Kale Salad with Chickpeas, Avocado, Toasted Almonds & lemon Vinaigrette

Dinner Tues
Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Broccoli & Goat Cheese
Super Green Gazpacho

Dinner Wed
Lentil & Veggie Curry
Quinoa with Peas & Raisins & Herbs

Dinner Thurs
Quinoa Pasta with Sun Dried Tomato Sauce
Kale Salad with Avocado, Walnuts & Lemon Vinaigrette

Meal for Freezer
Lentil & Veggie Curry
Quinoa with Peas & Raisins
Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Broccoli & Goat Cheese

Snacks
Raw Chocolate Truffles

Write Your Menu– assess items in the fridge to be used up-write ‘em down. Search for healthy recipes using these ingredients. If you are starting from scratch the sky’s the limit but reign it in…keep it simple. Below are a list of trusted sites and publications with lots of ideas and recipes. Start with 2-3 entrees and 3-4 sides and then fill in the blanks. A healthy sweet treat is always appreciated and can keep you from dipping into that pint of ice cream. These super easy Raw Chocolate Truffles are always in my freezer.

www.thenakedbite.com/
www.vegetariantimes.com
www.cookinglight.com (ignore suggestions to use fat free or low fat dairy, why? Click here)
www.thekitchn.com
www.elanaspantry.com

Shopping- The trick to meal planning is planning ahead. your list and include everything on your recipes. Then check your pantry and cross it off, this way you will be sure you won’t miss anything. Take a pen to the store and mark the list as you fill your cart. Shopping the day before is nice- makes the actual cook day seems less daunting.

Plan Your Attack– I like to get things cooking/marinating first and save the salads and desserts for the end. This way your cooked items will have a chance to cook and cool in time and your proteins (if using) can take on some extra flavor. Prepare your “mise en place”, this means your ingredients, you don’t want to be scrambling to cut carrots while your onions are burning. Be mindful though, if one item needs 10 minutes to cook; you can easily cut other ingredients in that timeframe. You may be prepping the same veggies for two different applications, save time and cut all at once putting one recipes worth on a different plate until ready to use.

Prep Once- Cook Fresh– So of course fresh is always better. Chopping your veggies on a Sunday and storing them until they are ready for the pan or steamer on a Tuesday is a great time-saver while still attaining fresh-cooked foods. Another great trick is to marinate your proteins (wether it be sprouted tofu, chicken or beef) all at once and then roast or grill on demand. This cuts your prep time and allows more time for the item to absorb the flavors, a win win all around!

Recruit Some Help– 2 is always better than 1, request some help from others who will be enjoying the food. If they are not cooks have them help wash dishes and clean and cut veggies…a huge time saver. If you have a housekeeper, plan for them to come around the time that you will be cooking to help with odds and ends. Another fun option is to divide and conquer with a friend, you can alternate between houses and learn and cook together!

Wrap It Up- having enough glass containers for everything will not only make things more efficient for storing and organizing your fridge but also cut down on dishes. You can often roast things directly in a casserole dish, cool on the counter and then put directly in the fridge. Not only will that save you dishes, but then you can pop it directly in the oven when it’s time to eat. Be mindful though, some items will reheat better in a pan on the stove- pasta and rice for example only dry out when heated in the oven…and I’m sorry to say, here at The Naked Bite we never recommend a microwave, it zaps nutrients from your lovingly prepared food.

Do you feel overwhelmed just by reading this? Take a deep breath and trust that while it may take a bit more planning, this method is sure to reduce your weekly stress, take the guesswork out of what’s for dinner and get you eating healthier. Once you have done it a couple of times you will develop a system that works best for you. You can also start small, do 2-3 days worth of food and maybe a healthy sweet treat or breakfast item and then increase from there. You will get the hang of it, I promise. If you have kids this is a great way to engage them in cooking and set them up for success when it’s time to feed themselves!

We Are Here to Help – if you have some quick questions- shoot us an email. If you need a bit more support you can book a consultation with me, to help get you up and running!