If you had asked me a couple of years ago how I plan meals, I would have said “I don’t” which wouldn’t have been very helpful. But over the past year or two, as I increasingly started cooking for Alex, I started planning things out a little bit better. When you’re single, you can get away with making smoothies and popcorn every day and calling it dinner. But when you’re cooking for someone else, it’s nice to switch things up a little bit.

I’m still not much of a planner, likely because I’m not much of a recipe follower, but I do have a bit of a process so I thought I’d share it with you.

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1. Plan out the week

Alex and I usually run through our schedule for the week to make sure I know which nights I’m cooking and which nights we have something else going on. I’d say we typically cook dinner 4-5 times a week. I have a few staple meals that we eat regularly so I always make sure I have ingredients for those on hand. (Typical dinners for us are things like quinoa bowls, vegetarian chili, and veggie burgers + sweet potato fries.)

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2. Pick a recipe or two

I’m admittedly not great at following recipes but I usually have a couple of ideas in my head of what I want to make. If I know I want to come up with a new flatbread recipe, then I’ll buy all of the ingredients I might want to add. Then I try to think of what other things I  could do with those ingredients. For example: If I’m in the mood for a goat cheese pizza, I’ll try to think of something else to make with the leftover goat cheese. (Maybe a baked goat cheese salad? Better get some greens.) This way you don’t end up with a bunch of leftover ingredients that you have nothing to do with.

I’ve always got a Pinterest board full of inspiration!

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3. Make a list

I do all my grocery shopping online (through Relay Foods, for those of you in Virginia) so it makes it really easy to make lists and add things to my cart, but even if you’re doing it in the store, a list is so important! I would always forget that one critical ingredient and end up having to go back to the store. That’s no fun. There are also some handy apps like Food on the Table that make it super easy to pick out a recipe and then add all of the ingredients to a list.

And if you’re curious about what goes in my cart, here’s a post about my grocery staples!

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Do you try meal planning each week?