Given the incredible complexity of everyone’s lives these days, I believe that one of the main cornerstones for healthy eating is meal planning.

Ugh!!!  I wish it wasn’t so, because it is kind of the Bain of my existence… specifically BECAUSE our lives are so multi-faceted!  I really don’t want to change that part because I love the variety and friends and activities and family time,  BUT it really makes creating awesome meals a challenge for me.

I have found that when we have relaxed weekends or less busy weeks or no kids around complaining about being hungry, that I actually ENJOY planning, shopping for, and cooking meals.  I am kind of still shocked at the truth of that, because with my oldest child being 13, the joy of meal prep and cooking left me, well, about 13 years ago. So, it’s been awhile since I could say that.

Not only does the responsibility of another human’s health depending upon on my ability to eat and prepare healthy meals kind of put a damper on the whole process.

It is also not fun anymore or enjoyable when it is a constant responsibility hanging over my head for meal, after meal, after meal, and day after day, after ever loving day.  It just never stops.  And when I get tired of it and throw in the towel and don’t think about it for a bit.  Then what happens?  We all eat a bunch of take out and varying versions of bread and cheese.

That is just life though, and it is okay!  And I tell my clients to expect imperfection with respect to meals and meal planning, and to go with the waves.  In fact, when meal planning I encourage people to actually build in the waves.  If you have a busy life with lots of balls in the air, then the chances for successful realization of a meal plan that creates every meal to be perfectly healthy while also fitting into the schedule matrix…becomes pretty slim or inconsistent at best.  And sometimes I feel like the goal for many clients is to be consistent.

Let’s change the goals!  Build in the waves and take some of the perfection out of the plan.  If you want to be consistent, then be consistent about being flexible in your plan.  Be consistent about being mindful of planning.

This is what I do…okay this is the goal that I strive for (and even it does not always pan out this way):

1. Two to three meal ideas (for me to cook) per work week.

2. I take the weekends on a case by case basis.

3. Shop for most weekday meal foods on Saturday or Sunday with an extra trip to the grocery late in the week.

I have found, surprisingly enough, that this simple plan works well, and I think that this is why.

– The leftovers from the planned meals usually account for some lunches, and they also make their own smorgasbord dinner one night.

– Lots of weeks one night ends up taking an unplanned turn for one reason or another (and there are tons of those…too many to even list examples) and ends up being take out, or cereal, or sandwiches, or some mixture of what we call a “fend for yourself” night.  This usually means a light dinner of random items in the refrigerator followed by a hearty dessert an hour later because people are hungry again!

– The plan is relatively simple, therefore I am not intimidated out of making the plan.  I know I can make it happen.

I think it sounds fabulously organized and blissful to have a perfect meal plan for every meal of everyday.  And to have precooked grains and meats, and pre-prepped veggies and fruits and salad dressings, and pre-made homemade granola’s and oatmeal’s, and breads to use during the week of perfect clockwork. Hahahahaha!  Not realistic for my life.  Although, sometimes components of that bliss work out.

This is what I am going to do.  Feel free to tag along for the ride!

I have a stack of tried and true dinner recipes, and I also have a stack of dinner recipes that I want to try.  I am going to post my meager meal plans for the week just for the heck of it.  I hope to include either a new or tried and true recipe each Tuesday.   If you want to play along, or are looking for an idea or two you might find something that works for you as well.

If you decide to make one of these dishes too, I’d love for you to share (on Twitter @TripleBraidedRD, or my Facebook page) a picture of your dinner, how people liked it, and if and how you changed it up!  I almost always change my recipes a little…usually because I am missing ingredients that it calls for!

This past week I made two tried and true recipes for dinner on Monday night, and it ended up making brilliant leftovers for two lunches as well.

I made a crock pot turkey tenderloin and a yummy potato, tomato, and vegetable bake.  Check out the recipes and see how simple they are, and more importantly, they are flavorful, delicious, and family friendly.