The Art of Meal Planning (Or how to cook like a Real Life Grown Up)

The Art of Meal Planning (Or how to cook like a Real Life Grown Up)
Cooking Takeover Week @On Adulting ft. Mogi Kitchen.

Morgan Feist is a 20-something year old Cooking Guru. She has been cooking since Forever and has offered to be a guest writer for On Adulting this week. Check out her thoughts below on The Art of Meal Planning–or for us who use Seamless as a life line–How to cook like a Real Life Grown Up.

 


Let’s talk cooking like an Adult. How does this sound?

You come home from work. You know EXACTLY what you’re going to cook. You have all the fresh ingredients ready to go in your fridge. You put on your comfy house slippers. Pour yourself a glass of wine. Put on your favorite play list. Light a candle. Get out your cutting board & start preparing a fabulous dinner that fills the apartment with a heavenly smell. And THEN you put the leftovers in an adorable ball jar & eat it for lunch the next day.

Did you answer:

☐YES!!!!

☐Helllllll no

If “Helllllll no”, let me be the first to say that it isn’t always that easy. There are days when you feel a gravitational force pulling you first towards popcorn & then towards the couch. Maybe you DO pour yourself a glass of wine in between, but that’s as far as that fantasy goes.

I get it. I was you. My Seamless account can prove it.

But, for the past 3-ish years I have made dinner 6 out of 7 days per week. Here’s why:


Health.

Yes, it’s true that cooking allows your control over your salts, fats, blah blah blah.

But honestly, I cook with lots of salt, bacon, etc. For me, cooking adds laziness into the equation. I am too lazy to make myself a side of spring rolls or crab rangoon. I am too tired to make cheesecake or brownies. At a restaurant or whilst ordering grub online, a simple click or request does the trick.

At home, that doesn’t happen. However, I WILL toss some mesclun greens with some oil & vinegar as a side. And I CAN eat some frozen blueberries for dessert.

Unhealthy foods are often labor intensive foods. And so I usually can’t be bothered to make them.

You’re welcome body.

$$$.

Groceries for 2 costs me about $90/week. That’s about $7.5 per meal per person.

PLUS!

I will usually have leftovers from dinner that I’ll eat for lunch the next day. $3.75 per meal per person. Heck. Yes.

However, FAIR WARNING: starting out, this might not be the case. Building a pantry full of spices, rices, flours, grains, oils, vinegars, & canned goods (coconut milk, curry paste, tomato paste — get this stuff in bulk when its on sale) takes time.

But the return on investment is REAL. $3.75 people!!!

Life Skills.

Can you imagine going to a restaurant and thinking, “My version is better”? OR going to a restaurant and thinking, “This is amazing! I can’t wait to replicate it!”?

As soon as these thoughts started entering my mind, I became giddy with excitement. I now can COOK whatever I crave whenever I want!

Dang. Girl. Dang. #SKILLS

Enjoyment.

I know to some people I’m about to sound like one of those assholes who says they don’t listen to music when they run so they can think. But it’s true. I look forward to cooking now. I get my playlist going (right now, straight Lemonade), light a candle, pop open a beer & let my mind wander while my hands chop up garlic.


Convinced? Okay. Now the question — how do I jump into this meal planning craziness?

I’ve broken it down into 7 VERY SIMPLE steps.

1. Procure Recipes.

Browse pinterest, epicurious, food network, & blogs. Make a long list of recipes that are fast, simple, & don’t include ingredients like kumquats.

If you’re lost on this journey, start HERE. These are all the recipes I use.

2. Examine Inventory.

Take a look around your cabinets & fridge. Are they empty? Or do they have a random jar of BBQ sauce that made sense to you at the time. Take inventory of what you DO have. This will help when planning….

3. Plan, plan, plan.

On Saturday or Sunday, plan a meal for every. single. day. that. week. If you had random things in your inventory, plan meals around that. For instance, if you find a full bottle of Sriracha hanging out in your fridge, plan Sriracha Chicken. Below is an example of a week in the life of my meal plan. I try to make 2 chicken dishes, 1–2 red meat dishes, 1–2 vegetarian dishes, and 1 seafood dish.

 Needed for MF Post

4. Make a list.

We all love making lists. Lists are great. Time to use your inner-list-mojo. After making a list of all the recipes you’re using that week, go through each recipes & make a list of all the ingredients you need.

5. Grocery Shop.

Stick to the list when you shop. Don’t buy things “just in case”. Those days are over. We are planning (AND SAVING $!) now. I always shop on my “off day” (see Sunday above).

6. Cook.

There will be days when this step feels impossible. BUT YOU GOT THIS. Read the full recipe before you start, taste it often, and follow your intuition.

7. Dishes. 

If you have a boyfriend/girlfriend/roommate that ate the meal you labored over, THEY do dishes. It’s a universal rule. If you’re cooking/eating solo (good for you!!!), you just gotta do it. It’s a great time to think, reflect on the day, & count your blessings. Or it’s a good time to scrub the HELL out of dishes as if they’re the asshole that cut you off today. Your call.


Thanks Mogi! Check out her blog @ Mogi Kitchen, and check in later this week for more on Morgan!

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