Weekly Meal Plan to Overcome Dinner Roadblocks
Identify Which of the 5 Meal Planning Styles Suits You and Get Claire Tansey’s Recipe for Sticky Korean Beef
There are five annoying, awful, mean, infuriating, exasperating roadblocks in between the average person and dinner. And one simple fix.
I make a weekly meal plan and cook dinner every night of the week. It’s not always easy, and I really wanted to make it easier. I talked to hundreds of home cooks to find out what stops them from making dinner most nights of the week. It boils down to five obstacles:
- No time
- No ideas
- No groceries on hand
- The wrong skills or equipment
- No consensus (due to dietary restrictions, picky eaters, different schedules etc)
Sound familiar? You’re not alone. I’m here too. The great news is that there is one relatively simple fix for all five!
A meal plan
DON’T CLICK AWAY! I hated making a weekly meal plan, so when I figured this out, I was determined to figure out a way to make it work for me. In doing that, I realized there are five types of meal planners. Once I had figured this out, everything changed.
Meal planning conquers the first three roadblocks at once– time, ideas, groceries– and secretly nibbles away at roadblock four. The more you meal plan, the more you’ll cook, the more skills you’ll gain! And the more you prioritize cooking and eating together (and make it less stressful) the more likely you are to find consensus or at the very least to make the time you spend together more enjoyable.
Ways to make a Weekly Meal Plan
The best way to plan your meals for the week depends on your personality, your day-to-day schedule and responsibilities, your family structure and so much more. My best way isn’t yours, and vice versa, and the secret to making meal planning work is to do it however is best for you.
From my observations, here are five types of meal planner.
Wakes up Sunday morning, consults Paprika/ Pinterest/cookbooks, writes up the week of meals and an air-tight shopping list. Shops, then sticks to the plan. This plan works well for organized people with fairly predictable schedules. It’s a struggle for anyone who has a problem with authority.
Assigns a theme or protein to every night of the week, just like at summer camp! Taco Tuesdays, Chicken Wednesdays, Vegan Thursdays, and so on. The recipes can change from week to week but the themes or proteins repeat. This popular system works well for people who like a bit of structure but don’t want to plan every meal in detail but can bother anyone who really dislikes repetition.
Spends a day making a few key dishes in large quantities, then freezes them in meal-sized portions. Pulls a frozen pouch out of the freezer every morning. This is ideal for people who love to spend one entire day a week in the kitchen, and for anyone with long commutes or who have very little prep time for dinner, but it doesn’t work for people with tiny freezers or anyone who easily tires of the same meal.
Pencils in three or four meals for the week, then cooks those meals at some point during the week, maybe, and leans on Back-Pocket Dinners the other nights of the week. It’s a great system for people whose schedules change on a dime, but not so great for people who have no time to think until the weekend.
Flies by the seat of their pants. There’s no “plan”, but the pantry is full of options, and Wingnuts are happy to run out for last-minute groceries. Constantly bookmarking recipes online and in cookbooks to try someday. This “system” works for young couples and retired chefs but isn’t a solution for most of the rest of us, especially parents.
I’m a Semi, with flashes of Batcher and Camper. What type are you? Leave a comment to let us know.
Sticky Korean Beef Recipe
Here’s a delicious meal that’s on the table in 15 minutes—perfect for Classics, Campers, Semis and even Wingnuts!
This classic Korean flavor combination is out-of-this-world delicious. It’s traditionally made with really thinly sliced beef, but since that’s time consuming and a difficult technical skill to master, I simplified it by using ground meat instead. The key here is to use a pan thatis not non-stick and to let the beef cook without touching it at first so the meat gets a little bit crispy. Then, the sugar in the sauce makes the beef sticky while the other flavors meld into a dish that’s basically impossible not to like.
If you have time to cook a pot of rice, it’s the ideal accompaniment. If not, spoon the beef into lettuce cups or even warmed tortillas. Or just eat it with a spoon—it’s that good.
What You Need
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
500 g medium or lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon hot chili flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage
2 green onions, chopped
How to Prepare
1. Heat a large cast iron pan over high. Add the sesame and canola oils. Allow the oils to get really hot, then add the beef and press it into an even layer. Let it cook, without stirring, about 5 minutes, or until the edges become dark brown and slightly crispy.
2. Add the garlic, ginger and chili flakes and then stir, breaking up the larger pieces of meat, and cook another 2 to 4 minutes, or until it’s mostly cooked through. If there is excess fat in the pan (this happens if you use medium ground beef), spoon out and discard some fat, leaving roughly 3 tablespoons of it in the pan.
3. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the meat and add the soy sauce. Stir well and cook about 30 seconds, then add the cabbage. Stir and cook until cabbage softens just a bit, about 3 minutes. Garnish with green onions.
18.7 g Carbohydrates
39.8 g Protein
25.5 g Fat.
1 g Fibre
Excerpted from Dinner, Uncomplicated: Fixing a Delicious Meal Every Night of the Week by Claire Tansey. Copyright © 2020 by Claire Tansey. Photography by Suech & Beck © 2020. Reprinted by permission.
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Claire Tansey is a recipe developer, culinary teacher and writer who believes home cooking should be easy, delicious and fun!