One of my biggest concerns when I moved out into my condo was feeding myself, which is funny because I love to eat. I’m glad that I only have to worry about meals for myself so it’s a bit less overwhelming. Here’s how I’ve been planning my meals and some of my go-tos so far!
How I plan my meals
I used to plan my meals weekly in college, and it worked out for me, so this was something I wanted to adapt for living on my own. Plus it would help me get just what I needed at the grocery store and not buy things I don’t need and/or forget something.
So it’s a two-part process. My medium of choice for the planning is the Notes app on my phone. Since I have a MacBook Pro, I have the iCloud Notes part synced up on there, so I’m able to open up the Notes app and type directly in there and have it load on my phone. I’ll make a separate note for Meals with the week of date and each day with lunch and dinner spaces under it as well as a separate note as my grocery list.
The first part is looking at my planner for the next week and determining when I’ll be home for dinner. On the nights that I run after work, I’ll try to have something easy to make or leftovers, and nights that I’m going straight home after work, I can make something that might take a bit more time. I’ll also include when I know I’ll be out for dinner, so it’s one less meal I have to worry about planning. When it comes to lunch, I’ll fill in whatever meal I’m prepping the Sunday the week of.
The second part is building my grocery list off of the meals note. I’ll include what I’ll need for my lunch and dinners, plus whatever else I need more of for the next week, like bread, eggs, juice, etc. There’s a bullet option in the Notes app, so you can check off each item, which I’ll do in the store.
I’ve been using this system for the last two months since I’ve been in the condo and it’s been working pretty well for me so far. I’m grateful that I only have to meal plan for one person and only have to worry about feeding myself.
Breakfasts are the least of my worry when it comes to feeding myself. My breakfasts during the week are pretty simple: either scrambled eggs, toast, yogurt, and tea; half a bagel, yogurt, and tea; or two frozen waffles, sausage links, yogurt, and tea. I used to get fresh fruit to have but as it’s becoming not fresh fruit season, I’ve shifted to yogurts. And they’re cheap to buy. My absolute favorite weekend breakfast to make is an everything bagel with sausage, egg, and cheese and an iced coffee.
Lunches were a bit scary for me since I was used to my mom making my lunches for me. Yes, I know. So I spent some time on Pinterest looking at easy meal prep ideas because I wanted to make a batch of something on Sunday that I could quickly prep the night before instead of making something different every day.
These have been some of my favorites to make so far:
- Chicken salad with celery, grapes, and almonds; crackers; cut up pepper with Thousand Island dressing for dipping
- Chicken bowls: chicken, rice, sautéed onions and peppers, corn, black beans
- These were good but the prep took longer than I thought and kind of stressed me out. They’re worth making again, I just might have to streamline the prep better.
- Mini charcuterie (cheese, pepperoni/sliced genoa salami, crackers) with grapes
- Corn, black beans, Spanish rice, tomatoes, salsa
- I’ll bring a bag of Tostitos scoops to dip into the mixture and I’ve found it’s filling enough to hold me until dinner
Since I’m back in the office now, I’ve stocked up on snacks to bring with me. My go-tos lately are a package of fruit snacks, fruit grain bar, and a small bag of Goldfish (because apparently I am a child). I bought a pack of reusable snack bags and sandwich bags at Target which are really great and totally eco-friendly. I feel a lot better using them instead of the one-time use plastic bags. I just wash them every night and use the other set the next day.
Dinner was also a bit overwhelming to me because, again, I was used to coming home from work and it’d be made. (Yeah, I was a bit spoiled at home with my parents.) So I’ve started out with pretty simple dinners and had to channel what minimal cooking skills I acquired when I lived at college. I also have a couple of pre-made meals in my freezer just in case I really don’t feel like making anything.
The first two below I’ve made a lot and really like, and the third is a recent Pinterest-inspired recipe that was so good—and boyfriend approved. I’m hoping to add more things to this list as time goes on.
- Air fryer burgers, tater tots, pasta salad
- I do both the tots and the burgers in my air fryer, and pro tip: cook the tots first and then the burgers (because the basket gets a bit messy when the burgers cook). I cook the burgers at 400° for about 10 minutes; I’ll pull them out and cut them open to make sure they’re cooked. I like a little pink in the middle. I’m also too lazy to buy hamburger buns so I’ve been toasting two pieces of bread for the burger; I like mine with cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and ketchup.
- Chicken sandwich
- Another air fryer meal. I cook a chicken cutlet in the air fryer with salt, pepper, and olive oil for about 5-8 minutes. I’ll pull it out to make sure it’s cooked through; my biggest fear is giving myself food poisoning. Similar to the burgers, I’ll toast two pieces of bread, and I’ll prepare the sandwich with honey mustard, mayo, cheese, lettuce, and tomato. I’ll usually have a side of chips with this. We used to make these at home, and we’d include bacon, too.
- Ravioli lasagna
- This was probably the easiest thing I’ve made so far. I found a recipe on Pinterest for ravioli lasagna and made it for football Sunday. Josh comes over and we literally watch football all day, so I like to have something easy to make for dinner. This called for a bag of frozen ravioli, a jar of sauce, and mozzarella and parmesan cheese. You basically layer the sauce, ravioli, and cheese, and it bakes for 30 minutes covered with foil and then about 10-15 minutes cooked uncovered. And it was so good. We had it with Caesar salad—one of those prepared bag mixes from the store—and it’s a meal we’ll be definitely making again.
What are some of your favorite/easy meals to make for yourself or your family? I’ll take any suggestions!