I really hate to cook. Because it just seems like such a waste of time. I mean I know it’s not and cooking at home is an easy way to save money, but seeing as I live alone pretty much anything I cook requires me to eat it the next 3 days minimum. For some meals, that isn’t a problem, however, it makes it hard to try new things and when I screw up cooking, it sucks. So just how is a single girl supposed to meal plan?
Recognize Your Strengths and Stressors
First, you got to recognize what your strengths are. And what you do and don’t like to do. For example, I hate cooking and am lazy AF.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of cooking especially every day. I’m more a baker. I’m also lazy when it come to food.
Me every day:
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So I focus on meal planning that’s going to make it super easy for me to eat quickly with the minimal amount of effort. It’s really more meal prepping than anything else.
Utilizing Your Freezer
The biggest key to my meal planning strategy? Using my freezer. Now I live in apartment so I really just have the freezer that came with my refrigerator. I don’t have like some big outdoor freezer in the garage like my sister or our parents. So I am limited on freezer space but I can maximize that space.
I’m always sure to include at least one frozen pizza or pizza dough made at home (even cheaper) in the freezer, so on the really lazy nights I’m covered without spending on take out pizza.
What Goes in the Freezer
So what all do I put my freezer? It’s a combination of some things that I’ve made, some of it I bought a premade.
Pre-made Food I Buy
One of my favorite buys at Aldi is the frozen strips of grilled chicken. I know it’s not the absolute healthiest, but it’s the absolute quickest. I don’t have a grill so it’s a great way for me to have some grilled chicken pizza or a salad or mixed in with some fettuccine Alfredo. It makes life super easy, fast, and gives me some protein.
Food I Make and Freeze
I will on occasion cook and I cook to eat and to freeze. Food that I make that goes in the freezer includes things like sauces. Alfredo sauce for when I want comfort food. Spaghetti sauce and meatballs make for some fast freezer to plate food.
I also make breakfast sandwiches that I can heat in the microwave every morning. Because I don’t know about you but I’m not always super awake in the morning. I need my coffee. And when waiting for the coffee kick in I don’t be trying to make breakfast. So I make breakfast sandwiches ahead of time. I just have to throw in the microwave, it’s a lot cheaper making them yourself than buying a pre-made sandwiches and it takes the stress out of morning.
The last kind of frozen meal prep I do are dump and heat meals that can be made in the crockpot. Basically, you put everything in one bag and when it’s time to make them, you take them out the day before or day of and throw it into the crockpot to cook all day. It’s the laziest form of cooking.
Cooking 1 Day a Month
Ultimately, I really only cook one day a month. While there are drawbacks to cooking for one, one of the upsides is that cooking just one day a month can provide me with enough meals prepped to last a month. On every other day it takes me maximum 20 minutes from “starting” to food on my plate. And most of that time the food is heating in the oven, microwave, or over the stove.
So I will gladly spend the majority of one day a month making all the stuff for my freezer so that I can grab and go or cook as the case may be. Also I like having flexibility and being able to eat what I feel like rather than what I’d planned. My meal prep means I have multiple options I don’t have to stick to a strict meal plan. At least not until the end of the month and I don’t have as many choices left.
Here are the recipes for some of what I cook on my monthly cooking day. Now this isn’t a food food blog so I’m not going to be about a bunch recipes I’m just gonna link to the ones I actually use
Overall I can make about a month’s worth of breakfast sandwiches for $12 which is a pretty good deal. I use the recipe by Frugality Gal.
Sauces are actually pretty easy and quick to make it’s just a matter of throwing on the saucepan and heating the ingredients together then letting it cool before you put it in a baggie to freeze. Now I was a little skeptical about the Alfredo sauce freezing and then being reheated well but it turned out great.
You can actually make two batches really easily since it calls for 4oz of cream cheese. So it’s usually 2 to 4 meals worth of sauce depending on how many bags you use to freeze the sauce. When I use it, I just heat it up, make some fresh noodles and throw in that frozen grilled chicken. It’s a great quick easy comfort food meal but by not having to do all of the sauce I made it once it gives me some flexibility to have other foods and not have to eat Alfredo for a week which is really unhealthy. I use the recipe by Once a Month Meals.
Meatballs another one that’s great because you can always just grab a few out of the freezer to heat a little bit of sauce and make for a couple meals rather than having to eat the same thing for a week straight. I enjoy this recipe from Frugal Family Home.
Pizza dough is just always handy to have on to make a pizza and/or garlic knots, or breadsticks or whatever it is you want to make. So this recipe makes three different dough balls which gives me a lot of flexibility to just have pizza whenever I want. Just make sure that you get it out the day before to thaw so that it’s ready when you need it.
Dump and Heat Food
Great dump and heat food can be hit or miss. I’ll be honest I’ve tried some ones that really work that great, and others that didn’t. For the ones that didn’t it sucks. Overall I do love using the crockpot to just cook something all day. Frankly my go to is putting some beef in there with a bottle of barbecue sauce.
Wrapping it Up with a Bow on Top
Your planning doesn’t have to be super hard or strict. You don’t have to say I’m going to eat this on this day and that on that day. This is especially true when you live alone. Because, you know what? Your moods could change and so because you live alone you can absolutely change what you want to have for dinner.
I like to think of meal planning more of as meal prepping and just making a ton of food that I know I like. Foods that are going to be easy to grab on the day I want to make them and leaving the day to day cooking to more of a reheating experience. So don’t stress too much about meal planning because a good amount of meal preparation, one day a month, can save you a lot of time throughout the month and a lot of money.