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Meal Plan Monday: How to Plan Your Meals and Save When Your Week is Erratic

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One email subscriber wrote to me with this question:

I struggle with eating decent meals because my schedule is erratic. How can I ensure that I will eat well when I don’t always know what my week will be like in advance. I spend too much money eating out and want to cut back. What should I do?

I’m devoting a post to answering this.

So what can you do?

Let’s face it. It’s not always easy putting together decent meals for the week. Balancing the right mix of protein, carbs, etc. can make your head spin. Just choosing what brand to buy at the grocery store is a feat in itself.

But don’t get too overwhelmed.

People get hung up on planning everything perfectly. If one curve ball comes there way, they tend to give up. They may over think the whole process. It really doesn’t have to be complicated.

Here are 3 tips to jump start planning your meals for the week.

1.Schedule date time with your slow cooker.

Pick one day of the week when you know you can block out some time to make and prepare meals. Get simple slow cooker recipes and devote that day to plotting out your go-to meals for the week. I like to do this on the weekend. I always schedule down time in general or else I’ll just run myself into the ground. I think it’s best to stick to the same day if possible because it’s easier to make the process a habit.


2.Keep it simple.

Find simple recipes that can easily be used for other simple dishes. For example, you can put chicken breasts with salt and pepper in the slow cooker and make a variety of items during the week. Have the chicken plain with a vegetable for dinner that night, then make chicken salad, chicken tacos or  a salad with chicken in it for a quick and easy lunch. If you stay simple with the flavor of the protein, it can be more versatile with other dishes during the week. Put the meals in plastic containers the night before so you don’t have to scramble in the morning. It also  stops other household member from eating something you planned on bringing for lunch. Be sure to rotate these same recipes each month. Don’t keep reinventing the wheel. It’s too much work and you’ll have a basic idea of what you will spend.

Okay. . .ditch the mayo.


3. Have a snack attack.

Plan your snacks. You may be thinking that’s it’s hard enough to just plan the meals, why the snacks?
After watching a recent episode of Dr. Oz, he explained how to incorporate protein into snacks to keep your energy up throughout the day. You’ll be less likely to spend money at the vending machine between meals. If you stick with snacks that have protein, you won’t feel as tired or hungry. Read more about  7 surprising sources of protein here. If you are really stuck and need to eat out, here are some inexpensive, low calorie options. Just be sure to give yourself x amount of dollars per week so you don’t spend more than you plan.

I was pleasantly surprised to like this brand and flavor. It makes eating healthy simple and tasty.


I took some of the work out of it for you and looked up some snack and meal plan ideas.

Protein Snacks

1.Pistachios [Dr. Oz]

2 No Bake Energy Bars [Dr. Oz]

2. Crunchy Spiced Chickpeas [Joy Bauer]

3. Quinoa Protein Snack [WinCo Foods]

4. Sun-dried Tomato Tuna Salad in Eggs [Living Well Kitchen]

5. 8 High Protein Snacks That Keep You Full [Huffington Post]


Five Best Quinoa Recipes [Food Network]

White Bean Swiss Cheese Melts [Reluctant Entertainer]

10 Inexpensive Recipes That Rock

Cheap Dinner Ideas: Weeknight Meals Including 20 Healthy Recipes Under $3

Soup, Stew and Chili Recipes You’ll Be Dying to Make

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