Meal planning is my least favorite thing to do or think about. It’s been quite a stressful event over the last few years. When I found out my son is allergic to gluten and my daughter is allergic to cows milk, meal planning suddenly became something I dreaded. Sitting down and trying to plan weekly gluten-free and dairy-free meals that everyone enjoys stressed me out to the point of tears. I was so lost! But, after a lot of praying, research, reaching out to lots of moms for help, and many failed meals, I slowly started coming up with meals the whole family enjoys.
Minimalism is a key factor in managing my mental and emotional health. I crave it in just about every area of my life. It provides me a sense of calmness and peace. Sitting down to meal plan every week was making me cringe and feel overwhelmed and anxious. So, I knew right away weekly meal planning was not going to work for me. But, what was? Then one day it hit me, why am I not meal planning with a minimalist approach?? Why am I making this much more complicated than it needs to be? So I went back to the drawing board and created a minimalist meal plan. Doing so has definitely reduced mental fatigue, decision fatigue, and stress. It’s also saved me time and energy on planning, prepping, and preparing meals. And, this is exactly what I wanted…and needed.
If the desire, time, and energy are there I still occasionally throw in a meal that may be calling out to me. But, I always aim to keep it simple no matter what. I love cooking and I especially love eating. And, I look forward to having the time and energy to play around with different foods and meals again one day. But, the fact is right now in this season of my life with homeschooling, working part-time out of the home, and still making time for myself and the things I love, using this minimalist meal plan is what works best for me so it’s how I roll.
So what does a minimalist meal plan look like, right? I have created a themed weekly meal plan that we repeat EVERY week. I do different variations of each meal just to switch things up a bit from week to week. For example, every Tuesday is tacos or burrito bowl night. One week I’ll do turkey tacos, the next chicken tacos, the following chicken bowls, and the fourth a steak bowl. I do this for just about every meal. I come up with at least four different variations so we can go a whole month without repeating the EXACT same meal. I do all meal planning for dinner only. I try to plan enough for dinner so that we have leftovers for lunch the following day. If we don’t have any leftovers I default to what I call “My Lunch Go To’s”. I always have these items on hand just in case there are no leftovers. For breakfast, I have a list of 7 meals we can pick from. I make sure to always have these items on hand as well.
Omelet: stuffed with potatoes and Daiya vegan mozzarella cheese.
Oatmeal: the season depends on what fruit we add. But, some of our favorites are strawberries, cooked apples, bananas, and cinnamon with pecans sweetened with maple syrup.
Bagels: we add cream cheese ( vegan for my daughter) with tomato or cream cheese and jelly (sometimes with eggs on top) with fruit on the side.
Yogurt and Fruit: yogurt with in-season fruit.
Smoothie: frozen fruit, almond milk, and kale.
Huevos Rancheros: fried tortilla shell, tomato sauce, refried pinto beans, eggs, sheep cheese.
Fruit Bowl with Vegan Nut Sauce: in-season fruit of choice with cashew nut sauce on top.
Always on hand: eggs, potatoes, Daiya cheese, jelly, vegan butter, oatmeal, fruit, bagels, tortilla shells, maple syrup, tomato sauce, sheep cheese, beans, cashews, pecans, almond milk, yogurt, frozen fruit, kale (we eat a lot of kale. If it doesn’t make it in a smoothie or meal, we make chips.
We most likely have leftovers but if we don’t I have a list that I call, “My Lunch Go-To’s”. It consists of salads, soups, and sandwiches. These are easy to make and the options are endless. Most of the time I opt for a salad and I allow the kids to pick whether they want a salad as well, sandwich, or soup.
I buy one loaf of bread a week and when it’s done it’s done. The options then become meat roll-up, soup or salad.
Monday: Stirfry Night (chicken w/ veggies, vegetarian, beef broccoli, shrimp)
Tuesday: Taco or burrito bowl night ( turkey tacos, chicken tacos, chicken bowls, steak bowls)
Wednesday: Pasta Night (creamy chicken, creamy shrimp, vegetarian, meat sauce)
Thursday: Fish Night (baked or grilled fish or a fish stew. I use cod, salmon, or mahi-mahi)
Friday: Pizza Night (turkey bacon, chicken, pepperoni, pineapple, sausage, and olives are some favorites in the house, but I just have everyone pick 2-3 topping each week.)
Saturday: Burger Night (turkey burgers, chicken burgers, veggie burgers, salmon burgers)
Sunday: One Pot Meal or breakfast for dinner (chili, stew, one pot lasagna, pancakes w/ sausage) One pot meals are so simple I just have a list I keep on Pinterest and I just pick one for the week.
To each meal I add a small veggie and fruit salad of some sort on the side.
FYI: I don’t eat meat so I either substitute meat for beans, quinoa, Beyond Meat products, or I eat the meal as is without meat.
GF Crackers and cheese
Boiled Eggs or egg salad with crackers
Fruit and cheese
Granola and milk or yogurt
I always have some sort of fruit for the day. I usually just cut some up in the morning and add it to whatever snack the kids choose from the list above. If the fruit isn’t finished before dinner it becomes apart of the fruit salad I serve with dinner.
If you want to make your own minimalist meal plan, think about what works best for YOU AND your family. Don’t forget to think about you. You’re the one making the meals. Pick out simple meals you all love that you don’t find exhausting to make. Also, take into account your daily life schedule and routines. For example, I make pizza on Friday and burgers on Saturday because it’s quick and I know we won’t have leftovers. I’m okay with that on those days because my husband is off from work and I don’t have to worry about him needing food for his lunch. So, figure out what works best for you and your family and make it happen. I promise you’ll love it!