Just One Thing – Meal Planning

Even though I didn’t take a break over Christmas/New Year, almost everyone else I work with did so it’s been quiet in the day job. Like being on holiday without using your holiday entitlements (just don’t tell my boss). This week though everyone was back at work – and had come back ready to (and I hate this term) hit the ground running (yes, I went there…).

I had, however, anticipated that – and the resultant lack of brain space I’d have at the end of each day for dinner decisions – so my “just one thing” this week was to get back into meal planning.

If I had to nominate just one thing that had helped me on previous quests to reduce excess baggage, it would be this. And, conversely, each time I’ve fallen off the wagon a lack of meal planning has been the catalyst.

I’m not a planner by nature but am a project manager by profession, so planning is a learned behaviour for me – and one that has served me well over the years.

I’ve mentioned before how I have the focus of…something which has very little focus… and it’s not unusual for me to declare something at 6am on Monday morning only to have forgotten all about it by 10am. Planning keeps me focused and organised and allows me to do what I need to do. There’s a joke in our house that if it isn’t in Mum’s calendar it doesn’t exist.

Because it’s so far removed from my drifty nature, however, planning is also something that I rebel against from time to time – and that’s usually where I come undone. That’s why I’ve learnt to keep some flexibility in my plans.

Take holidays for example. When I plan a big holiday – such as the one we had last year – I’ll concentrate on the structure and the big-ticket items. I have a spreadsheet (of course I do) that tracks what we’ve spent and what still needs to be paid so at any time when Grant asks that question (which he does at least weekly leading up to departure) I can tell him. It details flights, accommodation, and car hire and as long as I keep it up to date, we’re on track. (Spoiler alert – you’ll read in an upcoming post what happens when that spreadsheet isn’t updated…)

Even though I’ve always done my research, the stuff in the middle – what we do, where we go, where we eat – is mostly left up to chance and how we feel on the day. It means that while we mightn’t see everything that should be seen or tick every box that needs to be ticked in a destination, we’ve had other accidental experiences that we otherwise wouldn’t have.

The same goes for my writing. At the beginning of the year I’ll map out what I’m writing and when it’s due to my editors or for cover design etc etc. Once I have my deadlines the writing itself is done with very little plotting or planning. For example, the new Philly Barker I’m working on has begun with me knowing only what the murder weapon will be.

The same goes for meal planning. While I’ve mapped out meals for the next few weeks, it’s not set in stone and allows some flexibility.

The idea is that I’ll plan healthy meals Monday to Thursday, with Friday either fakeaway (homemade takeaway) or we go out. This year the destination bowl (where we draw a cuisine or theme from the bowl) is making a return for Saturday “date” nights, and Sundays very much depend on if we’ve gone out for lunch.

Anyways, this is what last week and the next two weeks look like – at this stage. The structure is there so if I want to move things around or change them up we can do so, but at least we have a plan.

The Morning pics

Sunrise is getting later – and I was happy to see colour like this at the beginning of our walk the other day. Other than that, a mixed bag this week…

Healthy recipe of the week

This week’s winner winner healthy dinner is another salmon dish – courtesy of Donna – chilli lime salmon with potatoes and capsicum. The recipe is here. I changed it up just a little – adding some ground coriander to the mix and instead of coating the salmon in the spice mix, I tossed the potatoes and the capsicum in it, keeping the salmon plain. We also served it with a simple raita – plain Greek yoghurt with diced cucumber – on the side. Pic not great but we’ll definitely be having this one again.

Next week

I’m off to Sydney this week to see my parents and duck into the office… so that will be challenging to my routines. My “just one thing” will be about meditation…one of those things I know I should be doing, but… anyways, I’m giving it a go.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

28 thoughts

  1. Love the planning Jo and that is where many fall down. We want to achieve our goal but we head straight for the big goal rather than using small steps to get there. The meal planning sheet front and centre helps so much not just with helping to know what you will be having but also ensures you have all the ingredients to hand and reinforces your goal front and centre. You’ve got this! We have reintroduced our restaurant at home nights this week too. Have a lovely week, my friend. xx

  2. Hi, Jo – I was delighted to see my name on your Meal Planning Board.
    I am so pleased that you liked the Chilli Lime Salmon with Potatoes and Capsicum. That was a big hit in our home as well. I love how ideas are shared, gleaned and put into action from the comment sections of our blogs.
    Now on to Milk Street Tuesday Nights Mediterranean! See you there!

  3. Hi Jo, I love your meal planning whiteboard – my meal plans are currently relegated to a scrappy notebook! I also like the idea of a ‘destination’ night. Good luck with sticking to the meal planning – you know your mind and body will feel better for it! X

  4. Hi Jo, you are smart to plan, but maintain flexibility. You will get there, just give yourself permission to ‘digress’ from time to time…. Thanks for sharing the salmon recipe. That looks good.

    1. Flexibility is a must for me or I rebel & then the wheels fall off & the toys are all thrown out of the cot. It isn’t pretty…

    1. Lol…leftovers either become lunches or go in the freezer. Although, having said that, tonight’s dinner is Vietnamese chicken salad made with the leftovers from last night’s soy roasted chicken…

    1. You’re welcome. I use it as a place marker for all the things I want to try but can never remember to do when Grant asks “what’s for dinner darlin?”

  5. I don’t meal plan as such – I buy what I think we’ll eat in the next week or so and then pull out what we feel like from the freezer that morning. Your meals were a lot more exotic than mine – though I was proud to say I could tick “meat and salad” and “chicken and salad” 😀
    Loved the quote at the end – I shared exactly the same one on my FB page last week to remind myself that walking away from the doldrums isn’t a bad thing – because we’ll always get to where we’re going – and it’s usually a better place.

    I’m enjoying your “one things” immensely. x

  6. I try to keep a very loose meal plan in place too; because I do cook based on what I feel like that very day I can’t have meals set in stone but I do like to have some idea of what ingredients I need and what our week is going to be like. We keep the paper menu tacked to the side of the fridge so everyone can see what’s for dinner (not that that stops them all from asking each night anyway!)

    1. I usually plan only a week in advance but use the space below for things I want to try that I’ll forget to. Generally our week follows a pattern of meat and salad (Monday), fish (Tuesday), bowl food or tray bake (Wednesday) and something stir-fried (Thursday).

      1. That is very organized! Hubby is a meat eater and I’m a vegetarian (who eats fish from time to time). So I make a large meat dish one day and a large vege dish the next day and then we have leftovers for the following day. But I’m retired so I can be flexible.

  7. I’ve been meal planning for decades. Thought I could stop in semi retirement but it just makes life so much easier. I plan some flexibility in it. I am really enjoying The Just One Thing podcasts so thanks for tuning me into them. Bernie

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