Simple Nutrition: One Week Meal Plan + Grocery List for Two

Cooking is hard. Not the “preparing meals” part, but the planning and thought that are required to avoid trashing your body with pre-packaged convenience.

I was afraid of cooking when we got married, but I have learned to love the process over the last three years. What made the difference? Meal planning.

We live in a really small town, and there aren’t a ton of restaurants around us besides a handful of fast food chains in the neighboring town. This means we eat out maybe once a week, and sometimes only once every other week. We definitely have a larger “grocery budget” than what might be normal for a married couple living in a city, but that also means that our “eating out” budget is only $10 every other week for tacos and a bottle of Coke at our favorite Mexican restaurant.

After three years of trial and error, we’ve learned to aim for a balanced diet that is neither a slave to health nor unhealth.

In an effort to pursue healthier eating habits, we’ve tried programs like Whole30 that restrict certain food groups and require a ton of preparation and planning. (We were so good at Whole30 that we finished in 22 days, and celebrated with a large supreme pizza from Pizza Hut.) We both felt great after eliminating grains, dairy, alcohol, and other food groups from our diet, but we also realized that it was not a practical or realistic lifestyle for us. Since that experience two years ago, we’ve made an effort to have a healthy balance of food groups and meals in our cooking repertoire.

Eating every single meal at home can either be a blessing or a curse for your nutrition.

On weeks that I put intentional thought and planning into our meals, we fuel our bodies with actual nutrients and whole foods. We may spend a little more on groceries on those weeks, but it doesn’t even compare to what we would spend if we tried to eat well and eat out.

On weeks that I put no thought into what we eat, I’ve found I rely on quick and easy prepackaged things from the grocery store (mac and cheese & chicken nuggets abound during those weeks). Our grocery bill may be cheaper, but we aren’t fueling our bodies or experiencing the blessings and enjoyment that can be found in cooking and nutrition.

For us, “nutrition” looks like balance. Like I mentioned before, we don’t want to be slaves to anything (whether “health” or “unhealth”). We are still learning, but we want our diet to bring freedom instead of a burden. While it is tempting to swing hard in one direction or another (Either Whole30 OR a mac and cheese marathon), we strive for a healthy balance of foods with an emphasis on clean eating and the freedom for quick meals and “unhealthy” favorites.

This balance cannot be achieved without thoughtfulness on your part.

Planning out your meals and creating a shopping list requires intention, discipline, and care. That doesn’t mean it is hard, though. Every part of homemaking requires these things, and we must remember that we won’t be experts from the start.

I wrote a post a while back with some practical tips and guiding questions to help you meal plan. I figured it out on my own, but you don’t have to! If you feel lost when it’s time to make your grocery list, I’d recommend reading my post, Every Day: Mindful Meal Planning for my process!

The other thing we’ve learned about achieving balance with our meals is that eating “healthy” doesn’t have to be complicated, and should probably include some repetition.

When we tried Whole30, I was under the impression that I had to keep things interesting with a new recipe every day. I was overwhelmed by the amount of recipes I found on Pinterest, and we ended up spending way more money than necessary on a long list of ingredients for complicated meals. In only three weeks, I was burnt. out. I was tired of thinking about cooking, following a new recipe every day, and never having a quick solution for a meal. We discovered that eating “healthy” is only achievable if we keep things simple, and rely on a few go-to’s.

This is my first week at home after two and a half weeks of visiting family, so our meal plan this week is full of those tried and true “go-to’s”. We needed a reset after vacation and way more eating out than we’re used to, so I put extra effort into creating a week of nutritious and simple meals. On a normal week, we would probably have a meal or two of something prepackaged like noodles or nuggets, but we’re avoiding restocking on those for a while.

I want to share this simple, repetitive, achievable meal plan with you to show that meal planning doesn’t have to be hard, and cooking at home can be simpler than you may think.

(This meal plan accounts for EVERY meal for two people, so feel free to cut it down if you do eat out. We’ve been on vacation, so we are majorly restocking on all fresh ingredients. There are definitely a lot of leftovers and repetition, but the leftovers mean less cooking and the repetition means less fuss! I didn’t create this meal plan with the intention of sharing, so this is just what works for us this week! There may be meals or other factors that don’t work for you and your family. I have received a lot of questions about meal planning, so I wanted to give a glimpse into what a week of actual meals looks like for us (without creating a perfectly polished plan for the purpose of a blog post). That is something I’d love to develop in the future, but for now here is a snapshot of real life!)

There are a lot of egg scrambles in the forecast for this week. We’ve found that this is an easy, no-fuss meal that is simple and uses up veggies. We buy a few veggies specifically for the scrambles, but feel free to use whatever you already have on hand. We like bell peppers, spinach, and mushrooms. Just sauté the veggies in a little olive oil until they are almost ready, then add in a few eggs and scramble it all together! This is an easy way to get extra veggies and protein without having to follow a complicated recipe. If you’re feeling fancy, you can fold it all into a crepe. (To make 2 large crepes or 4 small crepes, mix 1 cup of flour, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup milk, and 2 tsp of salt. Put some butter in a pan on medium heat and wait until pan is hot and butter is melted, add the crepe batter to the middle of pan and tilt until batter is spread evenly. When the batter looks solid and is starting to brown on bottom, flip and cook on the other side. Fill the crepe with your egg scramble, and enjoy!)

No-fuss Meal Plan for Two

Monday

  • Breakfast: Plain Greek yogurt with granola
  • Lunch: Egg scramble with veggies (peppers, spinach, mushrooms)
  • Dinner: Chicken lo mein (we already had all of the sauces for this recipe, but it will be an investment to buy all of them for the first time. We make this recipe with onions, carrots, broccoli, and mushrooms.)

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: Plain Greek yogurt with granola
  • Lunch: Leftover lo mein
  • Dinner: Sheet pan Salmon with Broccoli (Salmon is a splurge for us, but this meal can’t be beat in terms of simplicity! One pan and only a handful of ingredients!)

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: Plain Greek yogurt with granola
  • Lunch: Egg scramble with veggies (peppers, spinach, mushrooms)
  • Dinner: Chicken detox soup (We loooove this soup. It is full of veggies, makes enough for 3 meals for two people, and is easy to reheat and enjoy!)

Thursday

  • Breakfast: Plain Greek yogurt with granola
  • Lunch: Fried eggs with spinach, garlic, and tomatoes
  • Dinner: Leftover chicken soup

Friday

  • Brunch: Crepes with eggs and leftover veggies (use up any leftover veggies from the week!)
  • Dinner: Leftover chicken soup

 

Shopping List:

Produce

  • 3 heads of broccoli (for lo mein, salmon, and chicken soup)
  • 3 lemons (1 for salmon, 2 for adding to water)
  • Fresh garlic (2 heads)
  • Fresh ginger (for lo mein)
  • Shitake mushrooms (for lo mein)
  • Large tub of white mushrooms for scrambles
  • Bell peppers for egg scrambles
  • Bag of spinach (For scrambles)
  • Shredded carrots (for lo mein)
  • Baby carrots (for chicken soup)
  • Green onions (for lo mein and scrambles)
  • Celery (for soup)
  • Parsley (for soup)
  • Frozen onion (for soup and lo mein)
  • Frozen peas (for soup)

Protein

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 for lo mein, 3 for soup)
  • Bacon (for scrambles)

Dairy

  • Fage Plain Greek Yogurt (a tub)
  • Eggs

Pantry

  • Granola
  • Almonds (for snacks)
  • 8 cups Low Sodium chicken broth
  • Lo mein noodles (for lo mein)

That is our plan for this week, and I’m (hopefully) sticking to it! I’d love to share more meal planning resources in the future. Don’t forget to check out Every Day: Mindful Meal Planning for a step-by-step guide to create your own meal plan (plus some free printables to make it a breeze!)

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