Meal Planning and Prep – Working, Cooking, and Staying Sane

My husband and I work A LOT. He’s the music director for our local charter school, KIPP Delta Public Schools, and runs a private music studio on the side teaching voice and guitar lessons. I work for our local tourism bureau, the Helena Advertising & Promotion Commission (, where I serve as director, merchandiser, secretary and manual laborer. I’m also a bit of a workaholic, so we both consistently work more than 40 hours a week.

Between working, taking the dogs on their walks, cleaning the house, and trying to make time for exercise, coming up with dinner plans on a nightly basis isn’t realistic. Enter meal planning and Sunday prep.

Saturdays are my grocery shopping days since our local Walmart is mobbed all day Sunday as people head from church to run their errands for the week. Walmarts are a big part of life in small town Arkansas. So every Saturday morning I grab my computer and pull up some of my favorite blogs for inspiration for the weeks’ meals. We eat a diet devoid of most processed foods with the exception of our weakness for cereal. I’m also severely dairy intolerant, so several of my favorite blogs are Paleo, as this diet focuses on eating vegetables, fruits and meat. Here are a few of my favorite blogs for healthy recipe ideas:

I pick out five recipes that sound yummy to make that week, often tweaking the recipes to make them my own. I only plan for five days, as one night we usually eat leftovers and the other night we either eat out or scrounge around the kitchen. Then I go through the recipes taking stock of ingredients already stocked in our cupboards, jotting down the proteins, veggies and carbohydrates I’ll need to pick up, This week I’m making these five dishes:


When Sunday rolls around I go through the recipes again and pick out every component I can prep ahead of time. For the hash, I’ll dice the sweet potatoes and onion so they’re ready to throw in the skillet. I’ll also spiralize the zucchini noodles ahead of time, keeping everything organized in Tupperware in the fridge. Some weeks the prep is heavier than others, but no matter how long it takes on Sunday, it always pays off during the week when I can just throw everything into the pan. I try to make about two prep heavy dishes a week with the rest being “throw together” meals.

meal plan list

One of my meal planning lists


Overall this system has gone a long way towards keeping me sane. Trying to maintain some semblance of work life is important to both of us and there’s something satisfying about being able to put a delicious dinner on the table after work. I know it’s silly, but it makes me feel like I can do it all.

How do you handle dinners during the work week?

XOXO, Jules

5 responses

  1. My husband and I usually go grocery shopping together on the weekend and we each buy ingredients to make one meal. It’s an unspoken rule that each meal should feed us the day it is cooked and at least one more day, so we usually cook up something that would be good for 4 servings. So that covers 4 days, the other 3 we’ll either go out to dinner or come up with something from the spare ingredients we have lying around. And if we’re both too tired to cook, we’ll usually buy already cooked chicken at the grocery store.

  2. I am totally in awe of how much work you put into cooking! I usually make one big meal for the week that leaves me with a lunch or two of leftovers, but beyond that my meal planning consists of Googling the Pagliacci Pizza takeout menu before leaving work. (Just kidding about the Googling. Obviously I have it memorized.)

  3. Pingback: Holiday Gift Guide: The Domestic Goddess « SOUTH BY NORTHWEST

  4. Pingback: Snack Attack: Avocado Toast « SOUTH BY NORTHWEST

%d bloggers like this: