A Week's Worth of Yum Chef Meredith Abbott, Sur La Table's Manager of Culinary Content, shares how she makes delicious meals each week while limiting her shopping trips with planning tips and suggestions.
Meal planning for more than a few days has always been a struggle for me—I like to cook spontaneously, depending on what my partner Zac and I are craving. But with stay-at-home protocols, we have to limit the time we spend running errands like grocery shopping, and I have to adapt. I’m with you in this struggle!
Here are four steps I take to make sure we're all eating well and staying sane while staying home.
To plan your menu for the week, get with your dining companions to discuss the foods that you all want to eat that week. We started with dinner—it’s the biggest meal, and the one we have the most opinions about. Once we had our list of food options, I chose meals with common ingredients. For us, that meant chicken, shrimp and versatile vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and salad greens. You might also flip through cookbooks and look online for ideas to get you started. (Sur La Table has put together some great recipes for home-cooked meals
Create a Shopping List
This is a must. To limit your time in the store, you need to be organized. Begin by checking how many your selected recipes serves to determine if you need to decrease or increase the required ingredients. Also, make plans for leftovers! You may even want to double up on some meals so you've got lunch covered the next day.
Next, write out the ingredients on a shopping list, then sort the ingredients by where you'd find them in store. For example:
Refrigerated & Dairy
Meats & Seafood
Pantry: Canned & Dry Goods
Home Goods (personal care, cleaning supplies, etc.)
This will increase your efficiency in the store, and it also makes it easier to divide the list up if you go to with another person from your household. If the person who is joining you is new to shopping for your house, also write down brands you generally buy, sizes or any helpful notes to help them grab the right items.
what my grocery list looked like.
Create Your Meal Plan
Once you've made your grocery list, you can start to plan out the weekly meals. Since we prioritized dinner, those meals just need to be slotted in the corresponding days. They also inform what we'll be eating for breakfast and lunch, since they share ingredients—we might have leftovers that we'll reheat or use to make something else. Build in flexibility with frozen and prepared meals, even takeout. You don’t have to make everything from scratch!
Here's what our meal plan for the week looked like.