When you both work full time, it’s tough to find the time to cook dinner every night and pack lunches every day. When you get home, it starts to get late quickly, you’re both tired, and it’s easy to just plop down on the couch and say, “Want to order pizza?”
I’ve been there. Trust me. Before Rachael and I got married, I was the “3 pack of pepperoni pizza DiGiorno from Costco” guy. That’s not a good habit to get into and is probably how I ended up close to 200 pounds when I should be around 180.
The solution is to plan ahead and meal prep ahead. It makes us more likely to eat better and save money and time. Here’s what we do.
Plan Ahead and Share the Load
Rachael and I actually plan our meals weekly, as opposed to bi-weekly. I’ve seen a lot of people that go to the grocery store every two weeks. If that works better for you, go for it. Each week, one of us plans the meals for the next week (lunches and dinners). We have the same breakfast every morning, and generally the same snacks, so those are automatic. We’ll see how many business lunches or lunches with friends we have, and we tally how many meals we’ll need for the week.
It might look something like this: 7 lunches (I have one work lunch and Friday is our “lunch date out” day) and 8 dinners (Friday night date). That will cover us Monday to Friday.
We alternate meal planning so that we’re able to share the workload. Rachael started out planning everything, but over time showed me her system. We have a few shared Pinterest boards where Rachael will pin healthy recipes she finds. When it’s my week to plan, I can pull a recipe from that board or our “Made it and Loved it” board if we’re doing a repeat meal.
From there, the grocery list gets created. Breakfast (here’s our breakfast recipe), snacks, lunches, and dinners.
Depending on our weekend plans, we’ll do our grocery shopping together on Friday night, Saturday or Sunday. We’ve found that Costco is not very busy on a Friday night!
Prep for the Week
Sundays are meal prep days. We cook, grill, and bake all our meals for the week on Sunday so that all week we’re just re-heating. Often, we can knock out everything in just 3 hours, and many times less. We blast some tunes, watch football, or flip on a movie which makes it a fun way to get ready for the week.
By Sunday night, we’re ready to roll. Typically, we are done early enough on a Sunday to watch a movie or take a hike and then have a leisurely dinner. During the week, this leaves us plenty of time to leave work, go to the gym, make our protein shakes, and heat up dinner. We’re also not eating at 8 or 9 at night. If we had to actually prep and cook dinner after going to the gym, we’d be eating dinner and going to bed immediately afterwards. That doesn’t work so well for trying to get your calories right after the workout. And, it doesn’t leave you time to relax after the gym and watch a show or post a blog!
Learn to Eat the Same Thing
One thing that makes our system a little different is that whatever we’re having for lunch and dinner, we’re having all week. This allows us to buy many things in bulk from Costco or Wal-Mart and saves us a lot of money. Nothing ever goes bad, and we don’t throw food out.
Are you the type of person that needs something different every night? Sorry! That isn’t really going to save you time. You can still create a healthy game plan for your meals, but you’ll still be making meals every night which won’t save you a lot of time, and you’ll be sucked back into that temptation to order something or go out to eat.
Occasionally, we will have two different lunches and dinners to choose from. But, that increases the prep time needed and is more expensive because there are more ingredients to buy. If you can’t do the same lunch and dinner every day, try to pick two things for lunch and two things for dinner and alternate them throughout the week to give you the variety you are looking for.
- Week Before: Meal plan and grocery shop prior to meal prep day on Sunday
- Sunday: Meal Prep!
- Monday through Friday: Enjoy delicious, healthy meals, save money and dodge the punches that come your way (temptation to eat out, be lazy or eat right before bed)
Honestly, this system makes the meals so much more enjoyable. You don’t have to worry about food all week. It’s just there when you need it!
How do you meal prep/plan as a couple?