The Plan to Eat Podcast

#28: Get Back in the Habit of Meal Planning

August 17, 2022 Plan to Eat Season 1 Episode 28
The Plan to Eat Podcast
#28: Get Back in the Habit of Meal Planning
Show Notes Transcript

If you've fallen off the meal planning wagon, we're here to help you get back on! Join us for a conversation full of advice for getting back in the habit of meal planning.  We talk about the benefits of meal planning, why we've fallen out of the habit, and so many tips for making the planning process simpler. Go into Fall with your planning routine in place! Enjoy!

Find the recipes Riley and Roni talk about in this episode:
Big Mac in a Bowl
Pizza on the Smoker

Learn more about the book Roni recommended: Better Than Before

Connect with all the PTE Podcast recipes here: https://app.plantoeat.com/hi/PTEPod

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[00:00:00] 

I'm Riley and I'm Roni. And this is the plan to eat podcast, where we have conversations about meal planning, food, and wellness. To help you answer the question what's for dinner.

Roni: Hello. Welcome to another episode of the Plan to Eat podcast. Today, we are going to be talking about getting back in the habit of meal planning.

Riley: just like any other habit meal planning has to be something. You just do you know, like it's like going to the gym or what does another habit in your life? I don't know, making your bed

Roni: Yeah. Cleaning your car, like literally any kind of a chore quote, unquote that you have in your life. Like sometimes we fall outta the habit of doing.

Riley: It's really easy to, I think particularly if it's something that becomes, uh, I don't know, a bit frustrating or I don't know, just mundane, even those are things that you can easily fall outta the habit of, or life just gets busy and other things take [00:01:00] priority.

Roni: Yeah, I would say the times when I fall out of the habit of meal planning is mostly when go on vacation or something. Like I just get out of the habit of doing it. I'm out of my normal routine. And, uh, coming back into my normal life and reincorporating all of the normal things that I do.

Sometimes I need to work up to all of those things. Again.

Riley: Yeah. I was just thinking that one of the reasons I fall out of the habit, um, is like, Or, like this weekend we went camping. And so it was like a bunch of like camping food planning, you know, like the s'mores and the, the, you know, fire fajitos or the whatever. And like, it feels like a big planning event, you know, or even like, if you have family in town for a week or something, and it's just a lot more people to feed.

I think that those things kind of exhaust me and like take. While planning is imperative for those situations. I think it also sometimes like it like exhausts me, so it takes the wind out of my planning, sails . [00:02:00] And so then when Monday rolls around, I'm like, yeah, no, I just don't want cook. I don't wanna plan.

I'm just gonna wing it and then wing. It is so bad.

Roni: Well, it's kind of like that. I need a vacation from my vacation kind of thing. Like you need some extra time after you're done from doing the fun thing before you actually get back into doing your normal tedious chores.

Riley: Yes. And usually what draws me back in is the fact that I get so annoyed when dinner time rolls around that I don't have a plan or I'm just frustrated at myself. Um, when I have to just piece something together with things we have at home, or I don't know, we go to have takeout because. I just didn't plan anything.

um, and so that frustration typically really motivates me to get back on track. Um, for me, it doesn't usually take too long because you know, I've mentioned this before, but we live a long way from town. It's a hassle to have to like go to get takeout, or it's a hassle to just like, go pick up one. We don't just go pick up one thing from the grocery store to make dinner.[00:03:00] 

It's just not how it works. When you live a long way from a grocery. Um, and so I think that I, it doesn't usually take me very long to be like, okay, I'm sitting down, I'm making a meal plan. I'm gonna crank this out.

Roni: Yeah. Well, I think you and I are similar in that way. Not that I live that far from the grocery store compared to you, but we're both planners in general. And so we're very aware of the, the pains of not planning. It's, you know, when the instant that we fall out of our routines and our planning, it's like, we're.

We're immediately tired and it just feels like everything is crumbling. Uh, whereas I think there's other people who, you know, like maybe really value spontaneity, and don't always need to have a plan in their life. And so it's just not as big of a deal for them. They're able to just go with the flow and life happens the way it happens.

But yeah, I'm like you, the, the, the pain of it makes me feel like, okay, well, it's time to get back on.

Riley: Yeah. I also certainly know people who just enjoy. I mean, I think spontaneity plays into that, but they enjoy the [00:04:00] grocery shopping experience. Um, maybe they also have a little bit more time in their days and weeks where they can just go peruse and decide, oh, what sounds good to or what looks good? What sounds good?

What produce do I want to cook? What, you know, what's just sparking my interest in the grocery store. Um, that's just not really a luxury I have right now while I do enjoy grocery shopping. And I like to go into like new grocery stores. um, It's just, it's just not how my life works right now. And for a lot of people, particularly people with families or other people that they're feeding, like it just become like you just don't who has time for that really?

Roni: Yeah. Yeah. So,

Riley: You're laughing at me.

Roni: well, I just, I personally have more time. I, I don't have any children, so I have a little more time in my life than you have. And so I just kinda laugh because I'm like, yeah, sometimes I per in the room cuz I have the time to do it. So.

Riley: Yeah, well, I mean, I enjoy it. I enjoy it. But, um, I don't know. There's just a lot of factors at play, 

Roni: Yeah. Yeah. Wanted to keep our podcast today focused on tips for how you could get back in the habit of meal planning. If perhaps [00:05:00] you have gotten out of the habit, you know, we're towards the end of summer and everybody's lives start to pick back up again in the fall.

So if you have, you know, been on summer vacation for the last three months, you might need a little bit of motivation, um, to get back in the habit of meal planning. So that's what we're here for today.

Riley: So I would say my first thing that comes to mind, my first tip is just schedule it. And that sounds crazy. But as somebody who's a planner , if I don't write something down, I don't do it. Um, so I'm, you know, like, do you put a sticky note on your fridge that says, make your meal plan, if that's what works for you, do it.

If you use a digital calendar or maybe even a paper planner, like, you know, Sunday afternoons, right? Make your meal plan, I would also just recommend plan the shopping part and the planning part. For me, I plan on Sunday nights usually, and then grocery shop on Mondays. And because I'm in that system, if I don't shop on Mondays, then we don't have anything to eat or I don't have a, I have to piece something together.

Um, which has, you know, like, [00:06:00] which, you know, there's times for that. If I'm trying to stay in my rhythm, I plan on Sundays and shop on Mondays. Um, and it just, that, that that's what works for us.

And I put 'em on my calendar. I, I do grocery pickup, but I mean, and that's what that's, what's easy for me. Usually I place my grocery pickup order on Sunday nights for Monday, I don't know, three to four o'clock or something. You could also just plan your in-store shopping or your pickup or your delivery, whatever works for you and just make it work in a time that works for.

Roni: Yeah, I totally agree with. With this suggestion, because I'm similar to you in that if I have it written down and it's on my planner or whatever, I treat it like any other appointment that I have. So I just am, I'm busy during this time. And so that's the time when I'm gonna get my planning and my grocery shopping done.

Um, I personally like to set a recurring reminder on my phone to just be like, you know, Sundays at five o'clock or whatever. I just get a reminder that. Do your meal plan. So, and then it's really easy because I can just create my meal plan from my phone on plan [00:07:00] to eat. I'm already at my phone if I'm seeing the reminder.

So, uh, yeah, I love the idea of scheduling it to just make sure that you get it done because. Really the point is to just get your plan done, because then it's just gonna save you for the rest of the week. Even if the plan changes certain days in the future or things come up and you have to put stuff in the freezer or whatever, that's totally fine.

You can make those changes when they happen. But getting the plan done in the first place is the thing that's really gonna give you that mental freedom and help you out for give it your future self, a favor kind of

Riley: Yeah. Yeah. That's one of our favorite things. Um, and we certainly have more tips in later in the episode. I think that will be helpful around them making the plan part. If the plan is a part that you struggle with because, Like, I, I know that sometimes some weeks, you know, like planning becomes Tetris. Like my week is crazy. I need an easy dinner here and, uh, we'll be home longer here. I can make something that's more complicated or, oh, we really just need take out this night.

So it becomes this a bit of a [00:08:00] game, you know, to like figure out what meals fit, where, um, so I would just say one. Give yourself some grace, because it's just like any other habit, like going to the gym. Like the first couple of times you go to the gym, you're sore, you're tired. You don't wanna get up at five 30 in the morning.

and you really have to motivate yourself, or maybe you should have a fail. Um, and your week does not go as planned just to try to adjust your trajectory for next week. Learn from your mistakes and don't lose the habit because something, you know, kind of broke in the process. 

Roni: Yeah, I wanna say related to that, that the more that you do it, the easier that it gets, just like you were saying, just like the gym, like so many other habits, just like my laundry sitting on my couch all week long. Like the more I get, the more that I get on top of it, the easier that it gets, because when I let seven loads of laundry pile up on the couch, then I'm like, I definitely don't wanna put these away, but if I just put away incrementally or one load at a time, which is really what I should do, uh, then it.

Not so much of a big deal. So [00:09:00] just think, you know, think about it like that. Like each week, if you're doing this incrementally or if you wanna just do it for a month at a time and get it outta the way, uh, it gets easier. The more that you do it and the longer you go. Um, I also wanted to, since we're talking a little bit about this gym analogy, one thing that I've been thinking about related to this is that particularly when you get out of the habit, Pretty much anything, but you know, I think about the gym a lot, um, in relation to meal planning, because I used to be a personal trainer and I just think that sometimes you have to get a little tough on yourself and you have to just be like, okay, I don't wanna do this right now, but I know that it's the best solution.

I, I know it's that favor for my future self. And so I really just need to do this. And like I said, it's like, you can be kind with yourself and you can give yourself grace, but you can also be like, okay, but. You really have to do this. It's the thing that you have to do right now. So just get it done.

Riley: I it's funny that you say that because I. I can tell you that there's been so many nights, like Sunday night, I'm like [00:10:00] already in bed, but I'm not like a, I'm not like an 11:00 PM bed person. I'm more like an eight 30 9:00 PM bed person, depending on what's going on. But like I'll already be in bed and realize like, oh, I didn't do it.

And you know, the great thing about the Plan eat app is that I can just do it while I'm laying there in bed, but it is that way. It's like, no, I can't put this off until tomorrow. I need to just do it. It really will only take five to 10 minutes if you just do it, it's just, you know, like there's, it's kind of like the laundry thing.

It's like the more I dread it, the worse it gets, you know, , it's like, it does get to that seven loads of laundry. So I don't wanna get to Wednesday and have been really failing it, winging it for so many days. And I'd rather just do it and try to keep in that rhythm because the rhythm is what makes the habit and what helps it become more comfortable.

Roni: Yeah. And so I think that remembering the, the benefits that meal planning gives you is something that really helps with this. Um, so obviously like you're, you're saving so much time because you're not worrying about dinner every single night, when dinner actually comes around, you already got your plan.[00:11:00] 

You're saving money at the grocery store, cuz you're shopping from your plan. You're wasting less food because you're buying the things that you're gonna make for your recipes. Um, it can help you if you're trying to stick to a new way of eating and um, it takes. It checks some things off your mental to-do list as well.

Um, I think that that's a huge benefit instead of, you know, thinking like, okay, so we're having chicken Parmesan on Tuesday night and then Wednesday night, I think we're gonna have burgers. Like, no, you don't have to think about it anymore. It's just already your meal. Plan's already done. It's already in the app or on the website and you don't have to think about the individual things anymore.

So I think it really brings just like a, an increased productivity actually, when your brain is kind of freed like that, So, yeah, I just, if you're struggling with, with getting back in the habit, I think remembering some of those benefits, um, is gonna be really important to, you know, help yourself motivate.

Riley: Yeah, I'm, it's funny. The mental clarity thing. Um, there will be nights where I don't even remember what I [00:12:00] planned. So in that moment I realized that it is not something that weighs heavy on my mind, you know? I made the plan and I grocery shopped for those items. And I still don't remember it because I don't have to waste the brain space.

Roni: Yeah, 

Riley: I just open up the app or I look at my printed meal plan and I'm like, oh yeah, we're having teriyaki chicken. Like it, you know? And then I just make it, it didn't have to become a burden.

Roni: I love. So we've already tried to encourage you to get back in the habit. Now let's help actually with the planning process so that, uh, if the, if the planning process is a thing you're struggling with, uh, we can hopefully give you some helpful tips for that.

So give us your, gives your top tip for planning.

Riley: So, this is actually a tip that came from one of our coworkers, Jess. Um, she suggested that you and I think this is actually how she plans. But she makes it very. Much more like a self care routine. She said, sit down in a comfy chair, grab a blanket, grab your favorite beverage and then do your meal plan.

[00:13:00] And to me that makes it sound so much more fun or, you know, like she's just basically making it a fun experience for herself. So, whether that's a glass of wine, a cup of coffee, or maybe you're sitting by a campfire or sitting by your, you know, firing your house or, uh, I don't know, curled up in bed like me um, you know, like pick, do it in a way that's enjoyable.

You know, we, we talk a lot about. Um, you know, like redeeming wasted times, like maybe you're sitting in the dentist office and you're getting to like, make your meal plan in some time that could have otherwise been wasted. I, I feel like that's, you know, that's fine for later on down the road, but if you're trying to get back in the habit, make it a fun experience and, you know, set it up so that it's some way that you can enjoy it in the process.

Roni: Yeah, I think that that can also then be a good motivate. Obviously, if it's enjoyable, it's a good motivator to do it. But also I think this thing of like creating a routine about it is a really good way. Just I think for. Habits in general, [00:14:00] it's kind of like, um, I I've read multiple books on habits. And one of the ideas is that you like tack on a, a new habit with a current habit that you already have.

So like if every night you sit down with a cup of tea or whatever, before you go to bed or, you know, you're gonna pick up a book to read, but first you do your meal plan. Um, it's kind of like tacking on this habit of meal planning on something. You already do something you already enjoy. Um, I think that that can be a really great way to get started and get some motivat.

Riley: Yeah, I love that what's your top tip Roni.

Roni: So my main thing is to just don't overwhelm yourself with your meal plan. Keep your meals planned, relatively simple. I do have a whole list of things here of ways that I think you can keep your meal plan simple. One of them is to just plan a couple recipes every week. Don't plan. Seven meals, seven snacks, seven breakfast, you know, it doesn't have to be some big thing that goes onto your meal plan.

It can just be two or three recipes. You increase, you double the serving sizes so that you have [00:15:00] leftovers. And then you can also plan for takeout a couple nights a week too. So you know, that, that could be what your whole week looks like is just a few recipes. And then you're like, yeah, well we like takeout or we like to go out to eat.

So we're just gonna plan that in our meal plan as well. Um, I also. Planning recipes that take 30 minutes. That is super, that is prime to make sure that, you know, you're, you're preparing for your week ahead. Whatever's gonna happen in the week ahead. Doesn't matter if you have free time or if you have a busy night, a 30 minute meal, it is easy to make.

And I also think planning recipes that you're familiar with is really helpful because then when it comes to the cooking process, you're kind of like on autopilot, you don't have to be looking through every single step of the recipe. You might just have to be remember, like which, which spice went in this recipe and you kind of have to look at your back at your recipe for that.

I do this a lot because recipes that I'm familiar with make me feel like I'm a good cook and, and it is this idea that like, I don't have to be constantly reading through all the directions and making sure I know exactly what happens next. Like I already have a [00:16:00] general idea of what's gonna happen next.

So I could just kind of move on with the recipe. And if I, and if I forget something, it's usually not that big of a deal. If I forget to put in the, you know, the cumin or something, it's like, whatever, it'll be fine. It'll all come out in the wash.

Riley: Yeah. Well, I mean, I love that tip because, well, I just love the comment really that you said that, you know, planning or recipe you're familiar with makes you feel like you're a good cook. But that kind of thing is that reward that everybody needs when they're making a new habit, it's like, um, you know, it's like going to the gym.

It's like, they need to see the progress. Their muscles are bigger. The scale got smaller, you know, whatever your goal is in the gym. When you see that start to happen, that's motivating. And that that's that reward. So the same idea here is like planning meals that you're really familiar with to make you feel really confident.

It's like this little reward, like you planned it, you shop for it and now you're just really good at it. You just made it and it, you know,

Roni: And everybody's like, this is such an amazing dinner. You're like, I know I'm so good at this.

Riley: um, but that's the kind of encouragement and motivation [00:17:00] everybody needs when they're trying to make a new habit.

Roni: totally. I totally agree with.

Riley: Yeah.

Roni: Yeah. So I just have a couple more tips. Um, another one is just plan around with things that you have at home really easy and Plan to Eat. We have the, with ingredients filter on the website, you can just go in type in ingredients, find recipes that have things you already have, um, plan around your family favorites.

And you know, this is similar to recipes that you're familiar with, but I think that, um, family favorites sometimes don't have very much variety in them. You know, a lot of times family favorites are. They're things like hamburgers and meatballs, you know? And so, they might be things that are kind of similar, but, uh, I think that just like put the, put the idea of needing a lot of variety out of your mind, because really the point is to just get back in the habit, you can come, come in with more variety later.

Once you get back in the habit of everything and, particularly if you are going into. I would say, you know, like a busier phase of life or something, and you just don't know exactly like what the schedule is gonna look like. You know, your kids are going back to school [00:18:00] or your job is picking up or whatever.

You know, plan that plan on having that variety later, once you're, once you have a feel for everything and you like grounded in what your schedule is, And then finally get your family involved in the planning process, you know, like ask your kids for recipes or for flavors that they like, um, you know, ask your partner.

Um, and then it kind of takes that mental burden off of you to have to come up with the recipe inspiration all of the time. I do this with my husband all the time, you know, like I sit down and make a meal plan and I'm like, dude, what are we gonna eat this week? and he usually comes up with about 50% of the recipes that we eat.

And then, you know, I come up with the other ones, cuz mostly he wants to. Hamburgers and tacos. okay. Yeah. Gimme some of your tips.

Riley: well, I actually just wanna backtrack for one second, to one of your earlier tips, which was not to like overcomplicate things and plan seven lunches, seven. Dinners I seven breakfasts. Um, because I actually think it's a really important distinction to make because [00:19:00] there could be some, you know, like misunderstanding about what we mean when we say make a meal plan.

Roni: mm-hmm

Riley: And I think we've talked about this a bit in previous episodes where we even talked about how you and I meal plan, how we go about it. So that's a good episode to reference. Um, if you're new to meal planning or if you're feeling like you're trying to get back in the habit. Just so, you know, I literally never plan seven dinners 

and I never plan seven lunches and I never plan seven breakfasts ever.

I don't think I ever do that unless maybe I've got family coming into town and I need to have an idea of what's happening. I, I, it might not even be that I'm planning like today we're having omelets. It's like, no, like I've got stuff to make all these things. We'll figure it out.

Roni: Yeah.

Yeah. 

Riley: Yeah. So I would just say don't like, like, just to reiterate what Roni said, don't make it overcomplicated.

Um, and don't think that what your meal plan has to be is some extraordinary work of art where everything's planned. Maybe you need that. But I. [00:20:00] I don't plan seven dinners because we're not usually home for seven dinners. And I also plan and I make left, like I double a recipe so that I can have leftover.

So, so just tacking onto that idea, I would say, um, you could create some kind of template with a menu, inside of Plan to Eat and you. You know, you put a note on, you know, Monday through Thursday is easy dinner and you just go in and it's a, it's like, like Roni said an autopilot meal, or it's a family favorite.

Um, maybe it's something you've already made and it's in the freezer, you know, like whatever it is, it's something easy. Um, 30 minutes or less, maybe a one pot, one pan kind of meal. Um, you can schedule in like Fridays are takeout, and then maybe you've got time for a dinner on Saturday. So you put like, you know, fancy dinner on Saturday and then leftovers for Sunday.

And then that kind of gives you this template to work with of just remembering that I'm not planning every night, I'm planning leftovers, and that's a meal plan. I'm planning take out this night and that's the plan. [00:21:00] You know, as far as lunches go, I, you know, I plan for leftovers for lunches, but also I'll just have sandwich stuff.

I, on, on hand, breakfast is the same way, you know, what your family eats for breakfast and what they like. I mean, unless you're, you know, just like a chef and you're whipping something up every single morning, probably it's, here's some scrambled eggs or here's some toast or, oh, today I added some bacon

and we got bacon and eggs.

Um, we just tend to have really simple breakfasts around here. And so it just does not even need a plan really. Um, I just will manually add those ingredients to my shopping. So I feel like I took us on a bit of a tangent, but I just wanted to reiterate the, like, don't make it too complicated, particularly if you're trying to make it a new habit, just how can I keep this easy?

How can I plan for what we will eat, what we need, um, and looking at your schedule and knowing you're not home three nights, so don't plan seven dinners. 

Roni: Right. No, I love the idea of a template. I think we talked about that in our, um, saving time episode as well. And [00:22:00] just, you know, you can, you can add notes to a menu and the menu is just notes to remind you of what kind of recipes you might wanna plan. You know, it can just be like, Meatless Mondays and taco Tuesdays, you know?

And so that way, when you actually, you can put that menu on your meal plan as a reminder of like, oh yeah, these are the recipes we like to plan on these certain days. Um, and you know, yeah. Giving yourself that template just like takes away an extra takes away an added step of thinking really hard about the recipes that you might want to eat.

So I love.

Riley: It's a perfect segue into the next list I have, which is if recipes are the hard part for you, I've got some tips. Um, one is ask a friend for help. There are so many weeks where I text Roni or I have another friend I text, I just say, Hey, I'm bored and or empty of ideas, you know, and I just say, Hey, what are you guys eating this?

And they, you know, you might send me, well, we're having here's, here's a screenshot of my, of my meal plan.[00:23:00] Or here's, you know, a list of all the dinners we're having and maybe like one of the five things or one of the three things sounds good to me. That's progress.

Roni: Yeah.

Riley: um, so I'm gonna pull, okay. That tortellini dish sounds really good, or, oh, I we're gonna have burgers or, oh, we're gonna, you know, whatever.

Um, and so just getting a, a meal planning buddy, and they don't have to use plan to eat. They could literally, they just are a person you trust because they eat good food. And, um, you just say, Hey, what are you guys eating? And they text it, text it to you. That to me is a lifesaver. And so I highly recommend that.

Roni: Yeah, I have that on my list of, uh, suggestions as well. I also, I mean, I have it not only for sharing recipes and like asking what you're ma making each week, but if your problem is accountability to doing some of these things, like use this person as an accountability buddy as well, you know, and being like, Hey, let's text each other on Sundays to be like, what are you making on your meal plan?

And then, you know, you're able to keep each other accountable and that sort of a thing. Plus get some great inspir.

Riley: [00:24:00] Yeah. I find that it really gets me outside of my normal ruts because there is, there are meals that we fall back on, which we like. . Um, but my husband is really . He's like, okay, we've had this enough. I don't wanna hate it. So I need you to stop making it. . And so it's really like the friend, you know, like the texting a friend thing is really helpful because, it gives us out of our normal ruts and gives us some expansion of like, oh, this, that recipe was really good.

Now we can add that into our rotation. Um, okay. So another one is subscribe to an email list from your favorite blogger. It is an awesome way to automate inspiration.

Roni: Yeah.

Riley: I don't have to go looking on Pinterest or scrolling to be overwhelmed by, you know, 3000 recipes for something, you know, pick a thing.

And it all, it also, you know, tip, you know, like if you trust a blogger, if you tend to like their recipes, then they are gonna, a lot of them send out a meal plan, you know, every week I know half big harvest does [00:25:00] that. Um, and it's just a list of recipes. And again, it's the same idea of like, I'm not gonna plan all seven of the recipes she sends out, but one or two of them might sound great.

It's just important to remember, to look at the amount of time it takes and what kind of ingredients it includes because. If, you know, you pull something that looks really delicious, but then you look at the time and it says an hour and a half

um, you may not wanna make that one until your fancy night.

Or if it includes ingredients that are really expensive and you're trying to have a budget week, I would just say that those are two things important to look at. Um, but just that idea of automating inspiration by getting those recipes from your bloggers directly to your email inbox, so helpful.

Roni: I love that tip. Yeah, I mean, the bloggers that we've had on the podcast before we've had, Carolyn from all day, I dream about food. We've had LaKita from simply Lakita and like both of them have a email list that you can sign up for. You know, budget bites has a great email list where she also sends out, um, like curated [00:26:00] meal plans, kind of a thing.

And it's all based off of budget. There are, yeah, so many options out there. I'm also subscribed to half baked harvest and it makes me hungry every single time I open my emails.

Riley: I mean, but just any, I mean, honestly, any recipe author is typically sending out. Maybe it's a recipe a day. Maybe it is a meal plan, but it's just about the inspiration.

Roni: totally. Yep.

Riley: My last one, I think you may have already mentioned, and that's creating a menu and we did talk about creating a menu with a template.

Um, but on the week when you feel like you make a meal plan and you're like this rocked, everybody loved everything. It was easy, whatever. Save it. Just use the menus feature in plantee and save it. And maybe you name it, something like easy or like busy week , you know, like, so then when a week rolls around and you just don't have the margins or the time to plan, all you do is drag that to your meal plan.

And then there you go. You've got something. You did yourself a favor

Roni: So in August, uh, my husband and I are doing just like [00:27:00] a month of paleo eating and I have been using menus. I've been using the same menu. like over and over again in my meal plan for that because, um, you know, changing the way that you're eating can be a little intimidating sometimes, but honestly, just having a menu, that's like, okay, these are the four recipes that like, I know we enjoyed and they're easy to make and they follow, you know, they follow the paleo diet, whatever.

Uh, I just have, I just keep reusing that menu and. Yeah, I'm all on the menu. Um, we always talk about menus, but like right now I'm really on the menu train because it also, then I add in extra things, like, you know, for snacks, like we're eating, you know, maybe like a little bit different things for snacks and stuff.

And so it's like, I can just have those in the menu as well. And I don't have to think so much about like, uh, what should I add for snacks this week? Or, you know, what are we out of? Whatever. Just like the automation aspect of menus is amazing. And I

love. 

Riley: yeah, I just wanna [00:28:00] add quickly that, um, plan to eat. Doesn't delete anything you've added. Um, so you can scroll back for weeks and weeks and weeks and months, and months, and months, and see what you've planned at any given time. So, You don't even have to create a menu. You can just go look at a week in the past, the menus are easier, 

but scrolling in the scrolling backwards is also really easy.

It's just the planning part of it. That's easier cuz you just drag the menu onto the meal plan. but if you're just, if you're also looking for inspiration and just say, oh, that was really good. Um, cuz. There have been times when we've tried new diets or adjusted our eating. And there are recipes, we still eat that we loved, that are, you know, they're just, we're just not doing it all together.

Like every meal is not falling into the paleo category. But we just pull that cuz we loved it. So just a reminder and you can scroll back and look and you can create menus. Both of those things are super helpful.

Roni: I love it. Okay. I was gonna mention just a couple more Plan to Eat features that can enable you to do some of this planning. A little easier. We obviously already talked about menus. Friends in Plan to eat is super easy. So while you can [00:29:00] have a friend that maybe doesn't use Plan to eat and you can text them, you can also have your friends in Plan to Eat and you go peruse their.

Recipes, and you can apply any filters to their recipes as well. So if you go to somebody's recipe book, and you are trying to shop from the things that you have at home, just add those ingredients to the, with ingredient filter and find some new recipes in their recipe book, which is really cool. You can do the exact same thing with the cooking challenges.

Um, you can go through, look through all of those things. A lot of the cooking challenges are related around a single theme. So, you know, there's like a one pot October. So if you're looking for simple meals, That don't use very many dishes go to the one, top one pot to challenge. Um, and then one of my favorite filters for finding simple recipes is the total time filter.

So if, when you imported your recipes, they included the amount of time that the recipe would take to prepare, um, and to cook it will be included there in the total time. And so if you're looking for your 30 minute recipes, go to use your total time filter, and that's how you'll find.

Riley: Perfect. So [00:30:00] I think a really great place to end this episode is to talk about priorities. The reason you start a meal planning is probably because you had a goal. Um, and so when you get.

Frustrated or when you get to that point of like, Ugh, gotta get back on the meal, planning, train. Remember why you started. So, I mean, maybe it's just that peace of mind aspect to me, that's a pretty big deal. I'm a fairly. Habitual person. I kinda like to do things in a certain way. So like meal planning on Sundays and shopping on Mondays.

It works really well for me, but the reason I do it is because I don't wanna be stressed out on Monday night on Tuesday night, every single night. Um, when dinner rolls around it, I have no idea what to cook or. Honestly the way I feel in that moment, every one of those nights I don't plan is I just want somebody else to make the food

Roni: Yeah,

Riley: you know, like, and that's, you know, like I don't default to take out because I can't cuz we live too far, but [00:31:00] um, like that is the way that I feel.

And so then it, then the meal planning becomes even more of a, or the meal cooking becomes even more of a burden. You know, I wanna feed my family like healthy food and nourishing food and, you know, I don't wanna overspend, you know, like that's a real easy thing to do right now and I don't wanna overspend.

And so that, you know, when I, you know, go to the grocery store seven times, cuz I didn't have a plan, I spend way too much money so like those are some priorities for me. You have your own prior. Everyone who's listening, you have your own priorities. And so I, I would say, just remember them in this process, and it can be very encouraging to help you stick to your goals.

Roni: I couldn't agree more. The awareness of priorities when it comes to any habit, but particularly meal planning is super important. And just all of the things that you mentioned, whether it is, you know, sticking to a new way of eating, whether it's saving money, where whether it's, you know, wanting to spend more time with your family, because you are eating a home cooked meal together, there could be so many different reasons.

And I think, um, coming back to that [00:32:00] awareness is really important when you are having these. Oh, this is tedious. This is doldrum whatever. Remember that there's a point behind it, you know, just like there is with all other things, just like putting away your laundry has a point to it as well.

Riley: Absolutely. 

Roni: Before we get into recipe talk, I wanted to mention one of my favorite books that I read I've read recently on habits is by Gretchen Rubin. It's called better than before. And it's all about how your personality. Plays into how you create habits in your life.

I've read a few other habit books related to habits, and this one is just it's. So what well-formed related to personalities and stuff that I think that if you, if you're interested in habit formation and you're interested in figuring out what it is that motivates you to create habits, check out better than before.

I really recommend it. I loved that book. so now let's talk about recipes. Riley, why don't you tell us about, uh, a recipe that you have been loving lately?

Riley: I almost gave it away earlier in the episode when I was talking about camping [00:33:00] um, so our camping experience this, uh, past weekend was a bit of a hybrid. So we actually, We made smoked pizza. So basically each took pizza dough, topped it with everything we wanted to top it with. Started it on a pan in the smoker.

And then once it was, uh, cooked a bit so that the dough was a bit firmer, we transferred it directly onto the grate of the grill, um, and let it finish cooking and then pulled it. And it was so good. I don't have a recipe written up for this. I can write one. There's endless toppings for pizza I would say that the, like the smoking aspect of it was amazing.

So make a pizza, however you wanna make it. And then just follow those simple steps of. Started on a pan. So it doesn't, you know, cause you know, when like that dough all falls through the cracks, that gets real complicated. so just started on a pan so that it cooks a bit, transfer it over. It really didn't take very long.

I would just say, keep an eye on that. I can write all this down, but it was really delicious. So, [00:34:00] and it's a, you make it your way kind of thing.

Roni: Okay. Maybe give some specifics of what, what, what temperature did you have your smoker at? And then how long do you think it was in the pan for before you transferred?

Riley: Um,

okay. So our smoker has like, um, smoke medium and high. Um, so I mean, obviously the whole thing's using it's like, it's like smoking like wood pellets. Um, but I did have it on high.

Roni: okay.

Riley: So, I don't know, we have a bit of an older smoker, so that's a hard question for me to answer. So if you have a 

Roni: I that's, it's probably like around 400 degrees. I think smokers cut top out at like four or 500, I think.

Riley: yeah.

It was pretty warm. Yeah. It was pretty warm. Um, I would say it was probably on the pan for five to seven minutes and then we transferred it over and I bet it was only in there for probably 10 to 12 minutes total.

Yeah, it was not, it was a very, it was a very fast cooking.

Roni: That sounds 

Riley: So, yeah, it was really good, you know, and our dough wasn't super thick.

It wasn't like a thin crust pizza, but it also wasn't like deep dish. So, [00:35:00] or I guess deep dish isn't that thick in the middle, but you know, it wasn't just like a super doughy crust. It was, we rolled it out. So

Roni: That sounds like a good alternative to having like a Woodfire, you know, like most people don't have like a wood, a Woodfire pizza oven. Uh, and so that sounds like a good alternative to still get that flavor of the Woodfire pizza put on a smoker.

Riley: And I would also say that it's a great summer meal because it's another thing you're out of the kitchen. Um, you aren't heating up your house with your oven being on. And so just like having it be outside, it was a really, it was really fun. It was great. It was delicious.

Roni: That's great. So my recipe is one that we've been eating like almost every single week, this summer, and it's called big Mac in a bowl, which. Sounds weird when I say it. I know that, but it's a, it's a salad that is basically topped with big Mac toppings. I'm personally not a big Mac person, but I love this salad.

My husband is a big Mac person. He also loves the salad. He says that it might [00:36:00] be actually better than eating a big Mac. So.

Riley: Wow.

Roni: This could be a game changer. If you're somebody who like can't stay away from fast food. Um, but it's basically, you know, it's ground beef. You put shredded cheddar cheese, um, onions, pickles, and then you make your own like special sauce, quote unquote, special sauce.

Which is really easy to make. It's just like, Mayo ketchup, mustard, garlic, salt, onion powder. And then you can sprinkle some Sesame seeds on it too, if you wanna actually give it like that Sesame bun aspect. Uh, we love it. I've actually been using, spicy, like spicy garlic pickles for it. And that's kind of like leveled it up a little bit.

So give the big Mac and bowl try. We really like it a lot.

Riley: Well, that sounds like a great recipe for somebody who is trying to do like keto or trying to do like a low carb diet. Like, it sounds delicious for anybody. Um, particularly if you are trying to like, Eat more at home and not eat out or something like that. Or just trying to like Healthify the things you eat.[00:37:00] I would, I mean, it just sounds like a great option for a lot of different kinds of eaters.

Roni: yeah, we've been really enjoying it. Yeah, I think everybody should give it a try. I mean, it's also, we have a garden this year that has so much lettuce, so we've been able to use up a lot of our lettuce, uh, using eating the salad once a week. So if you're also a gardener. Good, good, good alternative. Just looks like a plain garden salad.

Riley: Yeah,

it also sounds like something that'd be pretty good in a, like a little lettuce wrap.

Roni: Ooh. It really, yeah, it totally would be. Yeah. It even it's, it makes really great, um, like leftover, like my husband takes it for lunch the next day. And, uh, he used to take a lot of like taco salads for lunch because that's just easy and those things are good to keep cold. And he said that, uh, it kicks the pants off of the taco salad.

So

Riley: there we go.

Roni: husband approved

Riley: That sounds great. Uh, well, thanks for listening. We hope that you got so many tips and tricks, and we hope that you get back on track with meal [00:38:00] planning, um, particularly as we head into the fall season. Let us know how we can help you. If there's something you need to know from us, you reach out podcast@plantoeat.com.

Um, we can help with more tips to get back on track, or if there's something you wanna hear about, we love to talk about it on the, on an episode.

Roni: Thanks for listening and have a wonderful week.