How to plan a week of meals

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One of the main obstacles that I’ve heard about for why people don’t cook very often is that it’s hard to buy groceries without wasting a lot of food. If you are only cooking for one or two people, I can understand how this is challenging. What works for me is to plan a few meals before I go shopping, and to try to overlap some of the main ingredients. I’ve outlined a few examples below.

When you are shopping for the week, be realistic about how often you cook. If you know that you will probably go out to eat one or two nights of the week, don’t buy enough groceries to make five dinners. If possible, shop somewhere where you can buy custom-sized portions (i.e., somewhere with a butcher’s counter and that allows you to buy produce by weight).

Sample week 1:
Grilled Chicken with Caprese Topping
Clams with Bacon, Corn, and Cherry Tomatoes (serve with leftover bread)
Barbeque Chicken Salad (use some of the cherry tomatoes from the caprese topping and leftover grilled chicken)
BLTs (use the remaining cherry tomatoes from the caprese, lettuce from the salad, and bread from the clams/caprese)
Pizza (use some of the leftover fresh mozzarella and grilled chicken)

Sample week 2:
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Panzanella Salad
Meatball Subs (repurpose the leftover meatballs into meatball subs by melting fresh mozzarella from the salad on top and usung leftover bread from the salad)
Tacos (with unused ground beef or turkey from the meatballs)

Sample week 3:
Engagement Chicken with Roasted Potatoes
Chicken Salad (with leftover chicken)
Frittata (with leftover potatoes)

Sample week 4:
Polenta with Shrimp
Panzanella Salad (use remaining basil)
Pasta with Pesto and Shrimp (use remaining shrimp)
Slow-Roasted Tomato Soup (use remaining tomatoes and serve with leftover bread from the salad)

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