Meal Planning: Have a Back-Up Plan

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Having a back-up plan is key to successful meals at home.

Remember how last week I shared 12 Easy Meals to Make When There’s “Nothing” to Eat? Well, except for the soups and chili — it was too hot to make those — I exhausted that entire list over the last seven days. Between lunch and dinner plans that I forgot to thaw or couldn’t pull off in a short amount of time, I think I made them all.

Clearly I have a problem.

Though this makeshift meal of “grilled cheese” turned out pretty good. Especially when you add a saute of bacon, onions, and mushrooms, and melted Brie.

While I’m making a meal plan for next week, I’m also making a note of which of the 12 Easy Meals‘ ingredients I need for back-up next week. If you’re looking for a quick and easy list, this would be the one to print off. I made a printable of my 12 meals as well as the ingredients I want to keep on hand to make it.

You can download it here.

In other news, here’s the rest of my meal plan for the week:


Breakfast: Muffins, Fresh fruit

Lunch: Egg Salad Sandwiches for the kids, Salads for the parents

Dinner: Roast Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Vegetables


Breakfast : Pancakes and Sauteed Apples

Lunch: Chicken Pot Pie, Green Salad

Dinner: Pasta with Red Sauce, Salad, Garlic Bread


Breakfast : Oatmeal with Toppings, Fresh Fruit

Lunch: Sauerkraut and Spare Ribs, Potatoes

Dinner: Asian Meatballs, Rice, Vegetables


Breakfast : Waffles with Berries and Cream

Lunch: Snacky Lunch

Dinner: Taco Soup, Cornbread, Veggies Dippers


Breakfast : Cereal or Granola, Fruit, Milk

Lunch: SBJ, Fruit, Veggies

Dinner: Bean Tostadas, Fruit Salad


Breakfast : Pumpkin Bread, Fresh Fruit, Yogurt

Lunch: Leftovers

Dinner: Pizza Night


Breakfast : Fried Eggs and Toast

Lunch: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Veggie Dippers

Dinner: Chef’s Choice

What’s the reality of YOUR meal planning?

About Jessica Fisher

I believe great meals don't have to be complicated or expensive. There's a better way, and it won't take all afternoon.

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  1. Steph says:

    I would love to see a post about meal planning and challenging leftover ingredients. For example, I have a jar of capers, some tahini, and a box of Bisquick left over from other meals. (Gross, not a single recipe!) They are just sitting in my kitchen, taking up space and get bypassed in my Meal Planning because I don’t know what to do with them.

    • Jessica says:

      @Steph, sometimes I just give those things away so I don’t fret about them. Sometimes the anxiety about it is worse than the loss.

  2. Demnise says:

    Steph: use the Tahini to make humus. Bisquick to make cheddar garlic biscuits 😉

  3. Susie E says:

    I’m trying to be frugal with my time and money. For main dishes I keep grilled pork tenderloin chops, chicken breasts, and shredded pork shoulder vacuum sealed in the freezer. I have found these meats have great flexibility as is, or chopped an put in casseroles, salads, sandwiches or roll-ups. The vacuum seal bags are more expensive than regular freezer bags, but they really extend the lifespan of frozen foods and allow me to take advantage of good sales without having to worry about freezer burn. When ever there is a good sale on any of the above meats, I buy in bulk and fill my grill and/or crockpots. There have been times when I’ve had 40 pounds of meat cooking at one time!
    For side dishes, my fallback is “crisper stable” veggies like carrots, celery and cabbage that I use raw in coleslaw, roasted, steamed, in soups, or stir fried. If my crisper stable veggies start to get past their prime, I’ll make a crockpot of veggie soup which I can always freeze if we are not in a soup mood.
    As a result, our eating out tends to be very intentional, budgeted and planned. I can even provide meals for others on short notice since my fallback collection wells stocked and varied.

  4. Kelly says:

    For me, just sitting down to do the plan is a challenge. Even then, I carefully check the calendar for nights that we’ll be gone, or DH won’t be home, or will be late, etc and plan accordingly, but there seems to be something happen to make me change the plan around regularly. I will say though, at least having a plan makes it easier to make those changes.

    What I need to learn to incorporate is using up all the veggies we get in our CSA and produce rescue program. I’ve been a terrible steward with that resource, finding that as much as half gets feed to our goats, rabbits or chickens.

    I do think it’s a good idea to have quick preparing meal ingredients on hand for those out of control days!

  5. Pat says:

    My reality is chaos. When I get home from work I am tired and still have to get supper cooked for my two brothers and my granddaughter. One of my brothers is a picky eater and the other one has Chrons disease and swears he can’t eat certain foods.

    No tomatoes (one will eat sauce only, the other won’t even eat pizza cause it has tomatoes on it)
    No peppers or mushrooms
    No vegetables other than celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, and a little peas (has to be in a recipe).
    No BBQ or chili (tomatoes)
    One won’t eat meat on a bone but I can always take it off for him and he will eat it.
    Needless to say it is challenging.

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