Meal Planning: Creative Parameters!

January 29, 2018

If you missed my initial introduction to creative parameters, check it out here

I first started cooking out of necessity–I had to feed myself somehow! And, as much as I love food from other countries, I cannot justify going out to eat for every meal every day. Talk about breaking the bank!

For a while I threw meals together, whatever was easy. Lots of vegetables, nothing exciting. Not really learning how to cook so much as cooking to keep myself fueled. My shopping choices were centered around what sounded good when I went shopping, not what I planned ahead in order to make multiple meals for the week.

Meal Planning photo.jpeg

Meal planning was something I saw on social media and admired on Pinterest.

But it seemed like a lot of work for just one person.

I dabbled in it over the years but not until a year ago did I really have to meal plan each week. When you go from a house of one to two it becomes more expensive and more time consuming to not meal plan. So I was “forced” (or better yet, had a really good excuse) to learn how to meal plan!

One thing I really struggled with initially was: well what the heck do I make? How do I create a meal plan for every week that is…





Easy to make a big batch of and reheat during the week

Not too expensive

I started out making multiple complex (to me) meals each week. A variety of ingredients that were costly, that didn’t cohesively mix one recipe to the next, and took me a really long time to make each week.

After a few months of this, I hit a wall and had to figure out an easier way before I gave up cooking completely. Okay I’m being dramatic, I know. But seriously. I was burnt out. It was a lot of work every week and I knew it could be easier if I made it easier.

Through trial and error I landed on a bare-bones foundational outline of a meal plan that I plug different recipes and flavors into each week which keeps the costs down, keeps the meals exciting, and, best of all, I don’t spend as much time each week cooking.

Obviously this isn’t what I use strictly every single week. BUT it is really helpful on the weeks where I’m not feeling inspired to try new recipes or cook new techniques that require more brain power to execute.

Weekly Meal Planning Outline

for Fall and Winter

The numbers of each type of meal are for a family of two adults. Scale up/down depending on the number of people in your family.

Hot dishes are everything from sheet pan dinners to skillet cooked pork chops with sautéed veggies.

A Note on Quinoa: In Washington we have locally grown quinoa. This is a conscious choice since the rise in popularity of quinoa has negatively effected people in South America. We make a conscious choice to buy locally grown so that we aren’t negatively affecting this population of people. Much like purchasing fair trade options whenever possible. 


Here’s an example of what I do:

If I’m going to make a chicken enchilada soup, I will also choose similar flavors for my quinoa dish or for one of the hot meals. This way when I buy salsa, chips, cheese, herbs, and sour cream, I can use up all of these items in multiple dishes before they go bad.

If you’d like some recipe ideas, please check out my pinterest. They aren’t broken down into flavor combos, but it may give you some good ideas for a place to start, if you need one.

As always, happy cooking & meal planning! And if you have any meal planning tips or tricks, please leave a comment and share what you love to do!


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