Disclosure: This post was sponsored by HP. As always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.
60 Healthy Vegetarian Meals

Getting healthy is one part intention, one part execution, and a few parts “if at first you don’t succeed try, try again”.

I know I wake up every day and tell myself I’m only going to put the BEST THINGS in my body. But really this time.

Then my experiments in lab fail and I get home from work “too late” to go to the gym and eating a few handfuls of dark chocolate-covered espresso beans never hurt anyone, did it? All of a sudden I’m swearing I’ll do better tomorrow and dialing the sushi place across the street to deliver dinner.

This is what I would call an execution FAIL.

In my experience, the key to avoiding this type of disaster is to PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. And then plan some more. If we only surround ourselves with healthy food choices, then we can only eat healthy food choices. To this end, I’ve made a list of my favorite healthy Eats Well With Others recipes that will help us stay on track in the new year and also compiled a list of my favorite meal planning tips and tricks.

2015 = we’ve got this.

minestrone verde

Soups

crispy quinoa and power greens salad with smoky meyer lemon vinaigrette

Salads

chickpea fajitas

Main Meals

Now. Let’s talk meal planning.

I know some people are more fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants when it comes to cooking, but I have to be honest – I live and die by my meal plan. If it’s not on the meal plan, it doesn’t get made. And that’s final. This helps me not only to organize for the week, which helps me to stay on track, but it is also a great way to save money!

Here’s my process: a week before every month starts, I make a list of all the recipes I want to make for the blog and pencil them into a calendar. Then, once a week (usually on Wednesday), I figure out what I have scheduled to cook for that week as well as what I want to make “just because”.  I try to make sure we have a good mix of meals so that we’re not eating the same type of thing every day (and so that I’m not posting the same type of thing every day). The.Boy and I eat almost every dinner at home and I always take leftovers for lunch. For us, this means I usually end up needing to make 4-5 dinners a week or we’ll run out of food.

On Friday, I make a shopping list and hit the grocery store. Having a list helps prevent me from buying random things that will just end up going to waste. It also ensures that I’ll only have to make one trip to the grocery store each week, which saves time and money.

Then, the weekend is when the magic happens! I try to do as much cooking as I can on the weekend for a few reasons: (a) it’s when I have the most time, (b) it’s when I have the most natural light to take photographs, and (c) it feels so great to start off the workweek knowing that we have a fridge full of good food so that I don’t have to stress (or cook!) during the week.

Now, obviously what works for ME isn’t necessarily wasn’t going to work for you. I am a crazy person who rarely makes the same recipe twice, I don’t have kids, I photograph my food, etc. However, here are a few tips and tricks I’ve stumbled upon along the way that I think are fairly universal.

1. Make a list of 40-50 recipes that you know your family will love. And then rotate these every week! This way you are not always cooking something new, but you’re also not cooking the same thing all the time, and there will be far fewer eye rolls at the table if these are tried and true recipes that you know everyone will enjoy.

2. Give each day a theme. Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Pizza Friday, etc. It makes it much easier to figure out what to make if you already have an outline to guide you.

3. MAKE A GROCERY LIST. I really cannot emphasize this enough. Not only will it save you time because you’ll only have to go to the grocery store once, but it will also SAVE YOU MONEY. Less food will go to waste, which means more money in your pocket.

4. Prepare what you can ahead of time. This is something I fail at on a weekly basis, but I always aspire to prep what I can on the weekends so that on weekdays it is so much easier to tackle cooking dinner after (or before) work.

5. Make recipes that contain more perishable ingredients first. I don’t even want to tell you how many times I’ve opened my fridge to make a recipe and found a slimy container of kale because I waited too long to use it. Try to make recipes with produce that won’t keep as well at the beginning of the week (think leafy greens, string beans, summer squash) and save those recipes that contain heartier veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, winter squash, potatoes, cabbage) for later in the week.

6. Put an egg on it. Not everyone loves eating leftovers, so reinvigorate them by turning them into something completely different OR just top them with a fried egg. It is a game-changer.

7. Don’t forget breakfast, lunch, and snacks! Or you’ll finding yourself heading to the grocery store come Monday morning. Again.

8. Don’t stress if it doesn’t work out one week. Pretty much every week, I have to bump recipes from one week to the next or just forget about them entirely. It happens to all of us. Don’t sweat it.

9. Keep a well-stocked pantry! I try to always have certain things on hand that I can turn into dinner on a moment’s notice. You can pretty much turn any leftovers into an omelet, pizza, or pasta dish, so I try to keep all the ingredients I need to make these three things in my kitchen at all times.

10. Find a cute weekly planner that will make you WANT to meal plan! Like this one:

weekly meal planner

 

To download it, either click on the photo above, or go to this link.

I created this printable using my Sprout by HP. It’s basically a desktop that is actually a creativity station. But is also a PC. Mostly it’s just all around awesome.

sprout by HP

 

Both the screen and the pad that it comes with are touch-controlled (though there are a mouse and keyboard that you can use), which makes it so much easier to make graphics like what you see above. The pad can also be used to scan 3D objects, which can then be incorporated into whatever graphics you are trying to create. There really is no limit to how creative you can get with this computer and I can’t wait to see what else I can make with it. To see how others have gotten creative with their sprout, follow the hashtags #sproutbyHP and #CIY on Instagram and Twitter!

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41 Responses to Wednesday Coffee Talk: 60 Healthy (Meatless) Meals and Meal Planning 101

  1. I never plan our weekday meals as those aren’t for the blog, but I always shop using a list, no matter how often 🙂

  2. debbie says:

    This is really great Joanne. I always say I will plan ahead but never do. Thanks for these tips and planners.

  3. I totally agree that planning is key. I never would have lost 100lbs if I didn’t plan my meals out, and make some of them ahead of time.

  4. I suck so much at meal planning 🙁 But I am also trying to do better…this year…

  5. I often dream about how easy my life would be if I just rotated through the same 20 meals over and over again. My sister eats literally the same meals evvvvery day, so she knows exactly what she needs at the store and nothing goes to waste. I make a list, but sometimes I’ll find produce my store doesn’t usually carry and then it all goes to hell!

  6. Emma says:

    Girl, I’m with you. Total planner. I get bratty about being told (by myself) that I must eat certain things on certain days, though, so I have a little chalkboard in my kitchen where I write a “menu” with options for each meal based on the ingredients I’ve got. Like, breakfast could be PB-banana-honey toast OR date-cardamom oatmeal! Dinner could be root vegetable curry OR miso tofu stir-fry! Then I can “order” whatever I’m in the mood for (from myself) and don’t rebel from lack of direction.

  7. I totally agree. If I don’t map out dinner ahead of time it wouldn’t likely happen. I also think by planning it out and making a grocery list, it allows me to strategize ingredients to use something in two ways before it goes bad. I also “plan” one night to be anything-goes for leftovers, bfast for dinner, or whatever. I really should get in the habit of prepping in advance.

  8. I remember my parents mapping out our meals for the week and it’s something I need to get better at (especially for the days that I’m not sharing a recipe on my blog). This is an awesome post – thanks for the great ideas.

  9. Sues says:

    I’m getting better with meal planning, though some nights I’m just so tired, I abandon all plans! Your meal planner looks so fun 🙂

  10. All these recipes look absolutely amazing and delicious, Joanne! Got a few new recipes to try for dinner! 😀

  11. I love planning our weekly dinner menu. These are some absolutely amazing choices. Now where to begin?!

  12. Great list of recipes Joanne! I love planning dinners ahead as well and this will help me out a ton!

  13. Beth says:

    Great advice, Joanne. Especially the bit about changing leftovers into something slightly different. I sometimes forget about doing that, and it can make what’s left over seem like a whole new meal!

  14. danielle says:

    These are such great tips! One of the many reasons I became a WIldtree rep is to show people how having a freezer full of prepped healthy meals is a lifesaver (and money saver.)

  15. Joanne, I am seriously so impressed that you meal plan and are so passionate about it! When I was a newly wed, we were eating cereal and ordering pizza!! Once I started collecting cooking magazines and realized we can’t eat cereal and pizza all the time was when I got my act together . . and then I got really into meal planning after I had kids. So damn girl, you rock. and love the meal planner printable!!!

  16. Heather says:

    Really great tips! I fail so hard at meal planning and meal prep and it’s one of my goals for this year because I know it would help me stick to a budget and make our lives easier. So far we’ve got Pizza Fridays down, but that’s about it. Guess I’d better print off some of those weekly planners! 🙂

  17. OMG I neeeeeed this computer- HOW AMAZING IS THIS?! Even though I generally hate PC’s and am usually a loyal mac user, but this is just AWESOME!

  18. Ack! Half way through my comment and my computer decided to install updates.

    Anyway, I love this list of tips. I did a similar one years ago. I’ve found that my meal planning changes by work hours, # and age of kids, exhaustion/ stress. I have meal planned monthly, weekly, and daily. I’ve done the “theme night” too (M-chicken, T-veggie burgers, W-pasta, Th-bean burritos, F-pizza, etc.) Or for awhile, I cooked big meals on the weekend and then had “Crockpot Wednesday” to cover the rest of the week.

    I am impressed that you cook every night in NYC. I have a friend up the street here in Santa Barbara, and one (or two) of her adult daughters live in NYC and NEVER cooks. I hear it’s unheard of to cook in NYC.

    Your meal planning reminds me a lot of “Notes from the Frugal Trenches” – another blog I read. I find myself studying her meal plans and even printing them out sometimes. They are very simple, well balanced, and varied. And frugal! Especially for Canada.

    I think my current life status means I can’t do that level of planning. I like the idea of eating something different every night, but it’s just not happening. I’m out of the house for 10+ hours a day, then I get home at 5:30 pm and dinner is at 6 (or as close as I can get it). My 2.5 year old makes it hard to cook, because he needs me. Last night I was attempting to heat up leftovers, saute vegetables, shred cheese, all while playing with a toy with the 2.5 year old and drawing out 12 equal-sized squares on a piece of paper for my 8 year old’s homework.

    So currently I cook 3 big things on the weekend (this weekend: crock pot chicken, crock pot black bean soup from Budget Bytes, and creamy cauliflower soup from Pioneer Woman). Then…we eat them until they are gone, with some “new” stuff in there. Like hubby made pizza Monday while I was at the PTA meeting, and I made veggies last night.

    It’s VERY repetitive and I admit, you have to get used to eating the same thing over and over. Then put it in the freezer when you can’t bear it anymore, or turn it into something else. The good thing is that I am trying to lose the last 6-10 baby pounds, and eating the same thing means I’m less likely to overeat. I eat salad for lunch every day, for example.

    Lastly, I keep quick things or prepared items in stock for when we run out of stuff. Grilled cheese, veggie burgers, frozen pizza, canned beans for burritos or beans and rice. When you realize that it’s faster and easier to throw one of those things together than it is to do takeout, you have made it!!

  19. I love reading about meal planning and your tips are ones I haven’t heard before!!

  20. Oh dang – I am one of those “fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants when it comes to cooking” people – I need to follow your example and plan better! Btw – what an awesome lineup!

  21. Lynn says:

    All good points! Good job on that meal planning card.

    Since it’s just me at home, I tend to have the same dinner on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday: a large dinner salad with spring greens, steamed vegetables and feta cheese. Tuesday is volunteer night, so I always get takeout from Whole Foods for dinner after. Friday night is Chinese takeout (which I love) and Saturday and Sunday are devoted to making recipes, which I can then take for lunches during the week.

  22. So true ! And all good points ! Great planning tips and very helpful for those who give up on making a meal. Have a great day!

  23. Jessie says:

    Joanne, I LOVE this! What a great eye-catching meal planner! I also love your tip in particular to make as much stuff ahead of time as possible – it never occurred to me to prepare even more on the weekends because of better lighting. This is one of those facepalm moments.

    Post bookmarked!

  24. Hotly Spiced says:

    I love how super-organised you are. Setting aside the weekend to prepare for the week ahead must mean you start the working week with peace of mind. I love how you always have things in your pantry you can turn into a meal at a moment’s notice and yes, an egg topping anything certainly elevates a meal xx

  25. What a brilliant list Joanne! I do have a grocery list, but mostly the market decides for me what we will cook. Love your Sprout by HP 🙂

  26. Gotta hate the dreaded slimy kale! Planning is serious business, for sure but it’s a lifesaver in this household too.

  27. Love this idea, Joanne! Now if I could only get my act together…

  28. Joanne, this is a fabulous 2-for-the-price-of-one post! I love that great healthy recipe recap, but there are some great tips there, too. You are so organised – you totally put me to shame! Love the idea of cooking on the weekend for the week – so obvious and yet why don’t I do it?

  29. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the template! This week I will meal plan more 🙂 Could be one of my new resolutions!

  30. Some really good advice here – Joanne – that it would behove to take note of!

  31. Zainab says:

    I’m the same! I make dinner at least 5 out of 7 days a week and I live by lists! Every friday evening after work (coz you know Saturday and Sundays are for pictures and cooking), I hit the grocery store and get started on prep over the weekend. Thanks for a wonderful list here!

  32. P says:

    You put SO much work into this!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  33. Oh how I love this post! Thanks for all the great tips and dinner ideas! I will definitely be making some of your recipes.

  34. Christine says:

    Perfect timing! I really need help with meal planning. Just “discovered” a bag of “dead” chopped onions from over 5 wks ago under a bag of grated cheese. Love having a load of great recipes corralled in one place, thanks!

  35. Kathleen says:

    Perfect! Thanks so much! This will really help me get back on track after an absolutely debauched diet for the past few weeks.

  36. Kelly says:

    Oh my gosh, I love all your tips and how organized you are, Joanne! Especially with your full days away from home. I have lists of what I want to make for the week as well as grocery lists but it could certainly use some work. Thanks for sharing this amazing list 🙂

  37. Kate says:

    Oh meal planning, the struggle is real.

  38. Fabulous meal planning tips. We all can use some boost up to organize our selves. Thanks.

  39. Johanna GGG says:

    wish I could say I was so organised – at least with years of cooking experience, I feel if I have lots of veg in the fridge I can make a decent meal (though lately I haven’t quite been on top of what is in the fridge with all the holiday shenanigans!)

  40. Amy says:

    Just stumbled upon this – thanks for sharing such wonderful recipes! What recipe is pictured above – it looks like peppers, jalapeños, etc in a tortilla?

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