A Stab at Meal Planning

Meal planning seems to be the next big thing, yet it is something people have been doing for years. My first taste of it was when I visited my sister and her husband in Philly; since they lived so far from the grocery store, they would sit down at the beginning of each week, plan their meals, and write up a grocery list. I live less than a mile from my favorite grocery store, so distance isn’t a problem, but time certainly is. During the summer, I had the luxury of thinking all day about what I wanted to have for dinner. After work, I would go to the store, carefully selecting each ingredient and lovingly preparing the meal for Sean and myself. If you know the hectic schedule that accompanies school combined with work, then you know that this is impossible to do during the week.

Tomatoes, cilantro, black beans, scallions, oh my!

Knowing that this was going to be an incredibly busy week, I decided that I would try my hand at meal planning so that Sean and I wouldn’t have to worry about thinking up something to eat after a long day at school and work. We decided on two dishes that have lots of leftovers: the Southwestern Stuffed Peppers I blogged about awhile ago, and this quinoa dish that I never got around to photographing because we ate it so quickly the first time. We went to the store on Sunday, and I haven’t been back since! What a relief. Not to mention easy on the environment, since I usually drive there.

Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa

Adapted from Epicurious.com  for fewer cooking implements & easier cooking, altered & removed some ingredients. If you make it according to my directions, it’s a less-than-30-minute-meal.

2 tsps grated lime zest

Juice of one lime

2 tbsps olive oil

1 tsp sugar

1 cup quinoa, rinsed thoroughly and drained

1 (14- to 15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

2 medium tomatoes, diced OR 1.5 cups halved cherry tomatoes

4 scallions, chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the quinoa and two cups of water to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes and then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

2. While the quinoa is cooking, dice the tomatoes, scallions, and cilantro and drain and rinse the black beans. Combine them all in a large mixing bowl.

3. Combine the lime zest, lime, sugar, and olive oil in a small bowl.

4. When the quinoa is done, allow it to rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Then add the dressing from the small bowl and stir to thoroughly coat the quinoa.

5. Add the quinoa to the mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.

We ate the quinoa with a salad this time because we wanted lots of leftovers, but it is filling enough to eat as a main course, too!

Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa with Mixed Greens and Carrots

I can’t wait to get a crock pot so I can go even crazier with all of this meal planning. What I found most helpful was combining recipes that use a lot of the same ingredients. For example, both the southwestern stuffed peppers and this quinoa dish use cilantro, which I can never seem to use up because it always comes in a huge bundle, and black beans.

Some helpful resources for meal planning:

Simple Bites

Pinterest (great for inspiration)

Smitten Kitchen



4 thoughts on “A Stab at Meal Planning

  1. We meal plan at our house too! I make my menu and grocery list every weekend and go shopping once for the entire week. It saves lots of money and time. I try to use at least one slow-cooker recipe per week, and it is like a day off from cooking. Good luck with the planning!

    • Thanks! I would love only shopping once a week. I am still trying to get the hang of how much food we exactly need, so it has been more like two trips a week for me. Hopefully I will learn as time goes on!

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