Adventures of a Newlywed // Dandelion Pie // Meal Planning

Adventures of a Newlywed: My First Week of Meal Planning

For the next few months I will be chronicling this journey through a series of posts every Monday called (drum roll please!)…Adventures of a Newlywed.

Challenge #1: figure out how to cook more, eat out less, and just generally be less stressed about the daily demands of feeding ourselves.

About a week ago I sat myself down and said “Bethany Mil—Lotulelei. You need to pull yourself together, and start working on being an adult”. I wrote a list of the things I needed to do in order to get some semblence of order in my life. One of the first things I wrote down was to figure out how to plan meals. The last few years I have consisted of eating at the college cafeteria, doing some cooking at Warrior man’s apartment, and grabbing a lot of sub sandwiches.

Now that I am married that haphazard meal planning style won’t cut it. First of all, we have dreams that consist of carefully budgeting our money rather than supporting our local Subway (no offense, guys, we still love you!).

So, with a new sense of courage, and with some iced coffee in hand I pulled up my Pinterest boards and set to work creating my first week of meal plans.

First, I looked at my calendar and noted the restraints of that week. On days when I had a bit more time I planned for more elaborate meals such as one of my favorites–the Pioneer Woman’s Parmeson Chicken (I made this with my Mom’s homegrown tomatos and Warrior Man and I ate the entire castiron skillet, it was just that good), and days where I had a smaller amount of time I would pencil in Greek Salad or a Lasagna I could make ahead.

I painstakingly made my list for groceries, and wrote out the menu on a whiteboard affixed to my fridge with magnets. Then we went to Aldi’s (my new favorite story!) and got all the groceries.

meal plan 6

This is my meal planning whiteboard for now. I have my eye on a vintage chalkboard, and some chalkboard pens (don’t they look enormously fun!). meal plan2

I made four pounds of hamburger and two cabbages worth of runzas for the freezer using this recipe (the non-bland one). I also added some mushrooms and saurkraut because that’s just the way we roll.meal plan 5

If you are planning on your hubs or roommate pitching in to make a few meals ensure that you also shop for what they need! My hubs does a lot of cooking with coconut cream as well as curry so I grabbed a few extras for the week.meal plan 4Don’t forget to plan a few snacks as well! I lieu of my Mom’s homemade salsa (which ruins everything) sometimes I have to break down and buy a few jars from Aldi’s which is incredibly cheap, and very tasty (as far as non-homemade salsas go)! Can’t knock it for $1.39 a jar!

Here are my thoughts on my first week of meal planning:

I felt incredibly powerful walking into the grocery store with a list of everything I needed for the next week. I included quick breakfast items (bagels, eggs, yogurt), quick lunch items (sandwich stuff, the makings of BLTs, etc…) and then my meal planning ingredients.

Planning equals Power. Just being able to get done with work (or school) and come home to throw together a meal which was already planned, and which I had everything I needed for that meal was an incredible feeling.

No matter what other stress hit me throughout the week I knew at least I was a rockstar in the kitchen. Organizing this one area of my life made me feel more confident in every other area.

Half way through the week I was already getting super excited about meal planning for the next week. Every time I thought about a food I was craving I simply wrote it down for the next week! Homemade gyros, put it on the list! Homemade runzas, let’s do it! Asian potstickeres from Trader Joes, it can happen!

A few tips and bits of encouragement:
If I can do this you can too! It took about one hour of my time to plan this all out. If you don’t have that hour then you can use this E-Meals which is offering a 14 day free trial! You pay a couple of dollars a month for this website to plan out your meals, and generate a shopping list. If you give it a try, let me know what you think! I have heard rave reviews, but at this point I still prefer doing my own planning.

Do you plan meals every week? I would love to hear your tips, and tricks! 

20 thoughts on “Adventures of a Newlywed: My First Week of Meal Planning”

  1. Bethany, one of the longstanding jokes around our house (mostly rehashed by my husband of 21 years) has to do with all the frozen burritos we ate during our first few years of marriage. We dressed them up with slices of American cheese and store-bought salsa, but we still ate a LOT of frozen burritos. So good for you to be taking such steps so early in your married life! And good for your husband to be cooking too! In answer to your question, though, yes, I do plan our meals now. 🙂 (I also have my shopping list on an Excel spreadsheet, which I’m not sure I should be admitting here!) You have a lovely way of writing and I’m so glad our blogging paths have crossed today!

  2. When we first got married (well, what am I saying, we’ve still only been married for almost 10 months), I really struggled with getting meals on the table. I felt horrible about it. I work 8-5 and commute 45 minutes each way. I’m usually so exhausted by the time I get home. It was a real struggle at first. I felt like a terrible wife. Meal planning helps, and also just sharing the responsibilities with your husband. Also, realizing that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful :).

    1. Congrats on your new marriage as well, Julie! I love that this is something you had to work through and figure out as well. Marriage brings about so many new adventures and discoveries. You made a couple of really great points, and I always need to be reminded that something doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. Thanks for calming my inner perfectionist. 🙂

  3. Hi Bethnay, very nice blog:)
    Fun times being newlywed! Meal planning is assume idea to stay ahead.I should get in to the habit too. I always fall
    short on my meal planning. And trust me life gets a lot busier when little people (kids) come to the mix:)) very nice post.

  4. My favorite part of your list is Saturday “hubbie cooks”. My meal plan is – every night, my hubbie cooks! (No, seriously.) We have an Aldi in walking distance of our house and are there at least twice a week. It’s a budget saver, but also keep in mind that some of their stuff is limited time – if you see a limited time item, try it quickly, then if you like it, quickly go back for more. That will take some flexibility in your planning. I wish you luck – neither me nor my husband are organized enough to plan meals for a week.

    1. I love that your hubs cooks for you! So sweet! Warrior Man has been doing most the cooking this week as my play rehearsals started. Between youtube and cookbooks he can mix up some pretty delicious dishes! You made an excellent point about Aldi, that is something I hadn’t considered. Thanks Alana!

  5. Oh, this makes me so happy!! And it’s inspiring. And we need to add Meal with the Andersons on there sometime. Should we put some pork on the menu? 😉

  6. I haven’t shopped at Aldi before, but I have heard lots of people say they get good deals there. Maybe I should check it out. I love homemade Runzas! Yum!

    1. You definitely should give it a try, Mrs. Deschane! It is the ONLY place I grocery shop now (except for a trip or too to Trader Joe’s). They had gallons of milk for $1.99 last week. Definitely helps us live on a budget. 🙂

  7. We’re still on the honeymoon now, but once I get back I’m absolutely going to be trying to get myself more organized in the kitchen! Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

  8. Ohh, honey, this just fills me with verve and the desire to plan out our menus this week, too. When I do that, I’m so much happier about the time I spend in my kitchen! The runzas look absolutely delish. AND please–come get some salsa! I still have some leftover from last year, AND I haven’t even started making this year’s supply yet. (Thanks for the link, by the way!)

    1. I probably wouldn’t have planned out my meals except I remember you doing that as well! It really makes evenings a million times easier than when I am scrounging for what on earth we have to throw together. And I will take you up on that salsa. 🙂

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