The Empowered Cook Meal Plan – Week Starting 8th January 2017

Hello and welcome to 2017! I have such a big plan for The Empowered Cook this year – and I’m so glad you are here at the beginning to see it all unfold. I can’t wait to share with you what I have planned.

To start the year off – a few of you have mentioned that meal planning is the biggest focus area for you: how to do it, does it save money, why do it, etc. So I thought I’d share with you all our weekly meal plan. I’ll do this most weeks (life permitting). That way, you can see a real life meal plan in action.

I have found meal planning to really work in our current family setup. When I was single, or when it was just my partner and I – meal planning was something that came and went. Sometimes I did it, sometimes I didn’t.

But now, with a toddler and working outside the home – I rely on my 15 minutes of meal planning on Sunday. It sets us up for the week. I take the time to think about what we have going on this week, what do I have in the fridge and freezer this week – and also what is my budget this week. Taking all of this into consideration, I then choose my meals for each day of the week.

Take this week, for example. This is our last week of holidays, but our first week of our little one starting childcare for 3 days a week. I will be home all week – so I can take the time to cook. I do want to do some bulk cooking if I can – so I need to ensure there are some meals here that I can double batch and pop some in the freezer. Our budget is a little tight – so I need to use what I have on hand – and limit buying anything else.

So this week – our meal plan looks like this:

My family's meal plan for this week.

The recipe I am using for the Mac n Cheese is this one from Live Simply. It is delicious – AND I can double batch it and freeze one. Simple.

The Baked Tofu recipe is similar to this one from Heather at Beauty That Moves. I took a course of hers last year and it included a very similar recipe and it is really delicious. I had never baked tofu before – but it gives it such a ‘meaty’ texture. The marinade is also super flexible, so you can adjust this to suit your family.

I serve this with Fried Rice – using Janella Purcell’s recipe as the basis. Janella is my naturopath and I idolise her approach to food and health. A goddess.

We’re also starting a little family tradition this year and making Saturday night Mexican Night. So this will be burritos or tacos or enchiladas or nachos! We’ll decide closer to the weekend what we feel like here.

I hope this meal plan inspires you! What are you planning this week?

 

Want to start Meal Planning? Try this easy first step!

Do you want to start Meal Planning but are not sure where to begin?

Or have you tried before and failed by Wednesday?

Think it’s all too hard?

Well – how about we try together with a very easy first step.

Want to start meal planning? The Empowered Cook shares an easy first step - and includes a free printable!

Meal Planning doesn’t have to be hard or complicated or time-consuming.

It also shouldn’t be a way for you to set yourself to fail. What do I mean by that? Well, if I created a meal plan every week full of Pinterest recipes that I had never cooked before – I would certainly not make it past the first day of the week.

I have always meal planned in some way. Another life lesson from my Mama – this is just the way we always did it at home.

But importantly – and this is the key – we never really had one tried and true method. We had different methods that worked at different times.

And sometimes the method was: open the pantry and take a stab in the dark. Lol.

I’ll be sharing some meal planning methods with you all as part of The Empowered Cook – but first – let’s start with an easy step.

In order for your meal plan to work – you and your family have to eat the meals that you make.

No one wants to cook a dinner that no one will eat. Been there – done that.

So – let’s make this easy for ourselves.

Create your meal plan full of dinners that your family loves to eat.

No one is going to judge you if you eat spaghetti bologanise every week. We do.

No one is going to care if you eat sausages and mashed potato every week. We do.

I keep these things on our meal plan because I know that a) my family will eat them and b) they are such second nature to me, that I can whip them up quickly and easily without any hassle.

That’s a win-win in The Empowered Cook’s books!

Now to answer some questions:

#1 – Won’t we get bored eating the same stuff every week?

Well – maybe, yes.

But it’s a good place to start.

And I don’t think you will get bored to soon anyway.

I think I have been eating spaghetti bolognaise once a week since I was about 10 – and I am not bored. Same with sausages and mash. Two of my favourite meals!

Also – ask yourself: Are you really eating that much variety now? I mean, really? Don’t you just dish up the same meals every week now anyway?

The trouble now though is just the total number of different meals that you can choose from. You might only have 4 or 5 meals that you just recook over and over again.

So I’m going to show you a way to make that total number much larger. And then you’ll have a greater selection to choose from.

Which brings me to the other very common question…

#2 – How do I know what my family will love to eat? I can’t think of anything!

This is where I can help.

I’m sure there must be some meals that your family will eat. The trouble is remembering them and then being able to recall them when you need to meal plan.

So – let’s start a Family Favourites list.

Firstly – get the family involved here. Let them tell you what they want to eat. Grab their ideas and jot them down on the list.

Next – keep the list on the fridge or somewhere where you see it often.

When you next make a dinner that everyone seems to love – write it on the Family Favourites list.

By just doing these things, you’re set! Soon – you will have a list that you can use as the base of your meal planning.

My Family Favourites list is often 6 out of 7 nights on my meal plan. It’s only when I know we’ll have some extra time that I might add something new to the menu. But we have a solid Family Favourites to work from – and that is the key.

So – last question:

#3 – Where do I write these? How do I keep track of them all?

Easy!

I can help with that!

I have a free printable for you to download. It has the Family Favourites broken down into categories for you: Quick + Easy, Pasta/ Rice Dishes, Slow Cooker / Pressure Cooker / Oven Bakes and lastly, a section for Other.

This will be really helpful when you meal plan.

But first – get this list printed and start writing down all your Family Favourites.

And don’t forget to SHARE this post with all your friends who might need some help with meal planning (use those little icons below – it’ll be very easy to share this free printable around!)

Free Printable: Want to start Meal Planning? The Empowered Cook shares an easy first step: The Family Favourites List!
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