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It is all well and good to talk about cooking at home when you are talking about a family living in a typical home environment. However, I spent some time as a student living alone, on a budget, out of rented rooms with little time or desire to cook. Yet caring for our bodies with nourishing food is vital to feeling our best and functioning well. Recently I spent some time talking to someone in this situation, who needed a bit of help with meal planning. I offered to help them come up with a super simple weekly meal plan for one person, and here are the results.

The parameters of this meal plan are that it is for one person who does not have much time to cook or meal prep, and who is required to pack a lunch without access to a fridge or microwave. This meal plan stems from my student experience and a few things I have integrated over the past few years about eating healthy and practicing self-care.

This is not a diet or an attempt at calorie restriction. Instead, I focused on making sure that every day and most meals included vegetables and minimal additives and sugar. All of the portion suggestions are there for the purpose of meal planning and reducing waste. If you cook a meal like spaghetti, then divide it immediately into multiple servings. Then when you need a meal, you know that you have a handy pre-portioned serving. This keeps that last little bit of something from going bad in the back of your fridge or you from eating just that little bit extra to prevent waste.

The meal plan is relatively inexpensive, but not focused on cost savings. The primary way that this saves you money, is that you are not eating out, or relying on take-out or convenience foods, which are generally more expensive per serving. If you were more focused on cost, you could buy the cheapest option of everything on the meal plan. However, I would recommend spending a bit more to buy things like organic eggs and veggies, natural peanut butter, and whole grain bread and pasta. This will improve the nutritional quality of the food considerably.

Obviously, this is not taking into account personal preferences. So if you don’t like something switch it out. If you can’t make yourself eat veggies with breakfast, then double up at lunch. If you need more snacks, then add a few more healthy options. If you don’t plan to eat every meal at home, then plan the ones that you will eat out in advance. Basically, this is about structure. Planning the week in advance so that you are never left searching for something to eat at the end of a long day because that usually leads to eating less healthy and more expensive options. I will include a shopping list and a few additional meal suggestions at the end to help you add some variety or extend the meal plan.

Even if you are not living alone, you can take the principals and apply it to your own weekly menu, and let me know how it goes.

 

Monday

Breakfast: 2 eggs (however you like them)
Breakfast sausage (Cook the whole pound and divide it up so that you can have just a little bit each day)
1 piece of toast
Cooked veggies (peppers, onions, spinach, whatever)
Lunch: PB&J (natural peanut butter, and good quality bread)
Cheese
Sliced raw veggies (carrots, peppers, snap peas, cucumber)
Fruit
Snack Trail mix, or nuts (portion this in advance, or buy pre-portioned snack packs these can be a huge calorie bomb)
Dinner Rotisserie Chicken (Buy a whole chicken and cut it into quarters, eat 1/4 at a time)
Bagged Salad mix (Depending on package size eat half or a quarter and save the rest)

Tuesday

Breakfast 2 eggs
Portion of sausage and veggies
1 piece of toast
Lunch Bagged Salad with 1/4 of a rotisserie chicken shredded
Snack Cheese and a piece of fruit
Dinner Spaghetti with Italian Sausage ( cook it all and portion it into 4-6 meals and put them in the fridge or freezer)
1 portion of frozen green beans or other vegetables

Wednesday

Breakfast Scramble 2 eggs, cheese, sausage and veggies
Lunch PB&J
Cheese
Fruit
Raw veggies
Snack Nuts or trail mix
Dinner Spaghetti
Bagged salad or frozen veg

Thursday

Breakfast Banana Pancakes and PB or eggs and Sausage
Banana Pancake Recipe (1 ripe banana, 2 eggs blended together to make silver dollar size pancakes, spread with peanut butter)
Lunch Rotisserie chicken sandwich
Raw veggies
Cheese
Snack Nuts or trail mix
Dinner Burger on a bun (buy frozen premade patties, they cook from frozen in under 12 minutes, store extra patties and buns in the freezer)
Frozen veggies or salad

Friday

Breakfast 2eggs
Sausage and veggies
Toast
Lunch Sandwich (PB&J or Ham and Cheese)
Snack Nuts or trail mix
Dinner Spaghetti
Frozen veg or salad

Saturday

Breakfast 2 eggs
Sausage and veggies
Toast
Lunch Ham and Cheese Sandwich
Fruit
Veggies
Snack Nuts or trail mix
Dinner Burger on a bun
Salad or frozen veggies

Sunday

Breakfast 2 eggs,
Sausage and veggies
Toast
Lunch PB&J
Fruit
Raw veggies
Cheese
Snack Nuts or tail mix
Dinner Spaghetti or other leftovers
Salad or frozen veggies

Shopping List for 1 week

2 dozen eggs
1 lb breakfast sausage
1 lb Italian sausage
1 loaf of whole grain bread
Sliced ham
Natural PB
Jam
Nuts or Trail Mix
Fruit (7 pieces )
Cheese (buy a block of your favorite and cut off pieces)
Frozen burger patties
1 package buns
2 packages bagged salad mix with toppings and dressing, not just lettuce
2 packages frozen veggies (green is best)
1 lb spaghetti
1 jar red sauce
1 rotisserie Chicken
Raw veggies for snacking (carrots, cucumber, snap peas, celery, etc)
Veggies to cook with breakfast (mushrooms, spinach, peppers, onions, whatever Trader Joes has frozen sliced peppers and onions)

Other meal suggestions:

Use chicken sausage as quick pre-cooked and portioned protein, add to pasta, salad or soups
Chicken and rice soup- takes about 30 minutes to make and can be 4-5 complete meals that are easy to keep in the freezer or fridge
Eggs, cheap, easy, fast, and healthy learn to love them 30 different ways.

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