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How I failed miserably at Meal planning and how I fixed it?

So many people write about how meal planning changed their life and indeed those people were my inspiration when I first began cooking. Armed with drool-worthy recipes from Pintrest and brand new food boxes I started my journey only to waste quite a few hours (and dollars). This is my story of how I failed spectacularly at meal planning and how I fixed it ...

Fresh produce and pantry essentials in my kitchen

Behind every successful life-hack story is a series of misadventures. Before getting it right, I failed terribly at meal planning, and was ready to give up on it. But then I found my way through it, and now I can confidently plan my meals and share some of my meal planning and prepping hacks with you.

Instead of telling you glorious stories of my success, I will first share the story of my initial debacles as cautionary tales of inspiration for your foray into meal planning.

I started meal planning when I moved overseas. The goodness of home-cooked, healthy vegetarian food was sorely missed; therefore, cooking at home became a natural choice. However, I had to manage my study routine and later my work schedule along with cooking, a quandry not unknown to most of us. Meal planning thus became my go-to strategy.

My meal plan became my dream food list, with beautiful, drool-worthy recipes from Pintrest. While creating the plan was a delight, I kept running into problems with sticking through the meal plan.

The reasons for this became quite evident. Last minute changes meant that I left or came home at different times, making it difficult for me to cook a meal from scratch. Add a chaotic work schedule to this and the resultant complete lack of energy to do anything at all. On several occasions the DH or I didn’t quite have the appetite for the planned dish.

As a result, we had costly ingredients at home that we didn’t use again. Leftover fruits and vegetables or cooked meals often weren’t edible and had to be discarded. A high level of guilt was experienced every time we wanted eat out. Add to that an overwhelming sense of failure every time we saw the pretty but unused meal plan on the fridge.

A quick search showed that I was not alone, many people have found meal planning to be overwhelming. I then discovered meal prep.

Meal Prep - the secret ingredient to planned home cooking

Meal prep is simple – you try and do as much of the cooking work beforehand and assemble on the day. As excited as I was about discovering meal prepping, I still struggled!

The entire exercise of prepping in advance was boring. I mean how many carrots can one peel and keep? Storing chopped fruits and vegetables was great but leftover and waste was still an issue. Some of the foods became unappetising by the time I was ready to open the box. Knowing that there was food ready for me at home, made me lazy. I ended up watching television for a few hours, instead of doing something more productive like painting or going for a walk.

But more than anything, preparing meals turned into a chore for me.

“As someone who enjoys cooking and uses it like a stress buster, I was just not getting enough of it! I then realised that cooking is important to me and I want to do it more not less.”

Meal plan versus Meal prep

Therefore, I have spent the last few years coming up with a few principles that combine elements of meal planning and prepping. As result, I now manage to cook for only three days– no more freezer meals!

My meal prep and planning strategy gives me space to try out a new recipe every two weeks and the extra 2 minutes to plate up – so that every meal becomes special.

I eat fruits everyday and grow my own veggies and herbs. All this while holding down a full-time job, advisory positions, and getting this website up and running.

This is the story of my journey to successful meal prepping and planning. I will be sharing more on Tiffin and Table. If you love cooking and want to or already cook fresh and simple food without the stress do subscribe so that you do not miss my posts :)

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