We all have preferences on what we’ll eat and what we wont. I, personally, wont eat most seafood or spicy things, but will give everything else a chance. My boyfriend has a much more limited palette. I try to include at least one entree that I know he’ll eat into my meal preps so he can get a couple good meals out of it as well. My meal prep buddy has her own set of restrictions. It takes some creative thinking to come up with a menu that can suit multiple people, while keeping the ingredient cost low and prep time down.
Instead of thinking about what meals I want to eat, I start from what ingredients I want to use. Your mileage may vary, but I’ll be talking about recipe building from the perspective of a runner who follows a general If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) diet. I eat at maintenance calories, try to aim for 100g protein a day, while keeping added sugar as low as possible. I have enough of a varied diet that I’m not too concerned about specific vitamins, fiber, or fat. I keep an eye on my carb intake just because it tracks with everything else on MyFitnessPal, but because I’ve been running for distance I don’t cap it. I can fit almost anything into my diet, so prepping around other people doesn’t have tooo many extra complications.
This week we’re starting with ground beef as the main protein. I know that everyone will eat beef based dishes. If we consider a serving to be around a quarter pound for whatever we make, I know I’ll get about 20g protein before other ingredients. Now there’s figuring out what dishes you want to make from the main ingredient. We’re doing Stuffed Peppers and Meatloaf for our two. Amber will eat both but hers wont be topped with cheese, and while I didn’t actually know if Dylan will eat Meatloaf before I planned this menu, I know he’ll try anything I make at least once and I know what to put in to make him like it. And if he hates it, there will be extra ground beef he can just make sloppy joes with.
At this point, look at the other ingredients. Bell Peppers, Rice, Onions, and Garlic come to mind right away. And all the etc spices to tweak your recipe that I hope you already know what you’re doing with because I’m not a real chef and I just shove garlic and salt into everything. Anyway, with just a few more things pulled from the produce section, we can make a simple stir fry. It can either be used as a side to pair with meatloaf, or I can easily whip up a batch of rice any time during the week for a quick lunch.
Don’t think about what you ‘want’ until last. When you start from what you need to use and build out from there, you’ll be able to consider everyone’s preferences and avoid meals that will get ignored in favor of snacks or takeout. Now that we have a central ingredient list for multiple dishes, we can branch out into our own specific wants to compliment what we already have planned and finish our shopping on a more individual level.
Write down your list and bring it with you. Check things off. This is so important. Once you have you recipes picked out, sit down and write everything down and double check it and actually bring it to the store, checking things off. There is nothing worse than starting a meal and realizing that you forgot a key ingredient. Take the time to do this right and prep will be simple. Once shopping is done, just make everything. Having a second pair of hands really cuts down on the time. By the end of the day you’ll have a weeks worth of food, or more depending on what you did or if you’re freezing anything, and you wont have to think about ‘what’s for dinner’ with your picky eater anymore.