SimpliFried meal plans

Whenever I’m planning our weekly meals, I feel torn between choosing the healthiest options and choosing the yummiest ones. I keep up with the latest nutrition and diet research, and know I’m supposed to be eating whole grains, at least five servings of vegetables a day, lots of Omega-3s, and to stay away from trans- and saturated fats. I’ll be honest, though, I love eating foods containing all types of fats (specifically butter, cheese, and fried goodies), salt, and more red meat than is recommended for a healthy diet.

From a scientific perspective, I know why I’m drawn to the not-so-healthy choices. Fat tastes amazing — it coats the taste buds, boosts flavors, and makes you feel satiated. Salt decreases bitterness, enhances sweetness, and sharpens aromas. And red meat (especially from well-fed and free-ranging animals) mimics silk in the mouth.

A diet free of fat, salt, and red meat is not for me. At the same time, though, I’m not ready to turn my back on good nutrition.

I don’t have an exact system, I simply create menu plans as healthy as I can stand to make them. I don’t want to shorten my life because of poor food choices, but I also don’t want to spend my life eating foods I don’t enjoy. Overall, I feel that my family and I are eating better than we ever have — nutritionally and flavorfully.

If you have a similar outlook, the SimpliFried meal plans may work for you as they’re composed. If you like to eat more healthy, feel welcome to switch up the not-as-healthy recipes you don’t like for ones you do. If you don’t like a specific option, switch it out, too. All Mondays are meatless, so if you insist on consuming meat every day of the week, you might want to plan out these days yourself.

Because my family eats from the plans we post to the site, you’ll notice the plans don’t include recipes with peanuts (my son is allergic), walnuts (I’m allergic), much pasta (my husband isn’t crazy about pasta), or strong mustard flavors (I’m not a fan). Additionally, there aren’t many desserts because we don’t have much of a sweet tooth. There also aren’t calorie counts because I don’t track how many calories I consume.

All meal plans will be accompanied with a shopping list and a link to corresponding recipes. You can expect the first meal plan next Friday (Jan. 14) for the week starting Jan. 17.

Look for SimpliFried meal plans at least once a month. And, from time-to-time we’ll have guest meal planners to spice and sweeten things up. In the meantime, you can create your own meal plan and shopping list using the guide from our sister site Unclutterer.

20 comments posted

  1. Posted by shebolt - 01/06/2011

    Can’t wait to see the first meal plan!

    I see a nutritionist periodically because I’m an endurance athlete and my food choices were actually holding me back. I now eat a lot of lean protein as part of low fat diet. I try to plan my dinners each week but often neglect to do so, leaving me to scramble last minute.

  2. Posted by Kimberly - 01/06/2011

    Hi there! Just chiming in to say that I follow the same approach, so I will be watching for the meal plans – however, I am only feeding one, so if you have any tips to add with that in mind I’d appreciate it!

  3. Posted by Mimi - 01/06/2011

    wow, that´t what i am trying to do: make meal plans… and try to follow them :) i can´t wait to see yours to learn!

    i have read about a plan that makes categories, like: on modays we eat pasta, on tuesday we eat beef, on thursday, we eat fish etc. this systems was continued from week to week, but the meal itself changed. i think, this is quite clever because you have e.g. vegetarian days etc and you just have to fill the categories with your recipies. so you have a static pattern what makes your life easy and but you have a wide range of variation within the recipies. so you can avoid this sigh of “pizza again…”

    unfortunately i can´t rememer where i have have seen it (somewhere in the internet, haha) does anybody have suggentions for categories? i am trying (for 7 days)

    * noodles
    * 2x soup or casserole (1x freshly cooked, 1x warmed up)
    * meat or fish
    * 1 x vegetarian (whatever)
    * bread + cheese
    * restaurant :o )

  4. Posted by heatherK - 01/06/2011

    You might want to check out the book “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon. She has some interesting information about fats, oils, salt, etc. that indicate that these things aren’t as bad for us as what we think, and those things traditionally considered as “healthy” are actually not that great.

  5. Posted by Tanya - 01/06/2011

    I always mean to make meal plans but all the software out there doesn’t make it happen! My problem is I never know on Saturday what I’ll want on Thursday for example. Also, id like a way to develop them such that i can use a similar batch of ingredients within a single week – eg if I buy cream for one recipe I don’t want to throw the rest, I need another recipe that week to use up the remainder. Anyway, if you are sharing your meal plans I would love to give them a try. Maybe it will motivate me to do my own.

  6. Posted by Daphne - 01/06/2011

    I agree with heatherK — many of the things we’re told are “bad” aren’t usually as bad as we think. Another book worth checking out is Good Fat; Bad Fat by Gary Taubes.

    Basically, we don’t yet have the science to understand what’s really healthy and what isn’t. In the meantime, it seems the best strategy may be to simply avoid PROCESSED food. This includes sugar & white flour, of course. (For me, it also includes white rice.)

  7. Posted by Erin Doland - 01/06/2011

    @heatherK and @Daphne — I’ve read Sally’s book and Gary’s book and Nina Planck’s “Real Food” and a lot more. Most of these people aren’t saying things all that different than what researchers at Harvard and Johns Hopkins are saying. Check out Dr. Willett at Harvard Medical Center’s book “Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy” and you’ll see that it’s pretty much the exact same message.

    You should know, however, that I won’t ever say “stay away from processed foods” because every food you consume is processed unless you’re eating it in the field where it was grown/raised. Cutting kale away from its root system is considered processing. When King Arthur grinds its wheat to make their Whole Wheat Flour, they’re processing it. When a cranberry field is flooded with water to create a bog to harvest the cranberries, those berries are being processed. Butchering meat or filleting fish is processing. Instead of incorrectly advising people to stay away from processed foods, I suggest that people learn about what is in their food. Most people don’t even know what happened to their apples between the time when they were pulled off a tree and made available in a store. The chemicals on and in an apple in a grocery store could be worse for your health than the chemicals in a box of macaroni and cheese (it’s actually unlikely, but it is possible). Simply put: knowledge is power, and the more you know about food, the better decisions you can make. One of our goals at SimpliFried is to teach you as much as possible about the foods you eat.

  8. Posted by Nehal - 01/06/2011

    I just finished Taubes’ book as well as “The Primal Blueprint”. I’m not shying away from fats and red meat, even though my doctor has me on statins, but I am trying to cut out flour, sugar, and starches as much as possible because I believe they are the real culprits at play here. If my cholesterol improves as a result, I’ll try (again) to get off the meds.

  9. Posted by Nehal - 01/06/2011

    As for meal plans, my wife and I try to switch it up a bit, but stick to more or less the same few meal choices:
    * Turkey tacos or chicken fajitas (minus the tortillas, if we can)
    * Crustless quiche/frittata (eggs, almond meal, lots of shredded zucchini and veggies)
    * Chicken curry w/veggies (Thai or Indian style)
    * Kheema (ground turkey curry/stew)
    * Chicken Puttanesca (no pasta) – sauteed chicken breasts baked with sliced cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, garlic, and some spices.

  10. Posted by Living the Balanced Life - 01/06/2011

    Working on a menu of healthy meals as hubby and I are watching our calorie intake. So far so good, but it is only Jan 6th! Not so much a diet as a healthier and lower fat way of eating. It has been good for hubby to count his calories to learn what is better for him. He was amazed that the basket of tortilla chips he ate at the mexican resaurant last week had almost 1000 calories!
    Who controls your to-do list?

  11. Posted by Carrie - 01/06/2011

    I cannot wait to see your meal plans! I’m hoping this one will really work for me, because I’m always trying to perfect my meal planning skills.

  12. Posted by Happy Mum - 01/07/2011

    I take Erin’s point (in Comments) about the term “processed food.” But — for a simple rule of thumb, or a “simplifried” approach to food and eating –then “avoid highly-processed foods” is excellent dietary/health advice (see also Michael Pollan and many others). I like this site — good ideas — great start — thanks.

  13. Posted by Sue G. - 01/07/2011

    Love idea of this new blog and looking forward to menu plans.

    It would be great to see a post sometime about meal planning for singles. I’ve seen one book about meal planning for couples, but there really isn’t a lot of information out there for menu planning for <4 people. Obviously you can cut recipes down, but it's the economy part that falls down (quantity of what you buy and how to use it, etc.).


  14. Posted by Erin Doland - 01/07/2011

    @Sue — I agree that singles get the short end of the stick when it comes to recipes and meal planning and such. I’ll definitely keep this in mind when I’m producing meal plans for the site. Recipes are so often written for 4.

  15. Posted by Sarah - 01/09/2011

    This sounds like exactly what I’ve been trying to do for myself (cooking for one, by the way.) Need to find ways to shop for the week without veggies going bad by Wednesday, leftovers getting moldy, and without spending my entire paycheck.

    I also don’t subscribe to the low-fat hype. Trans-fat is the only fat I actively avoid like the plague, and free-range beef is totally fine by me. (Interesting article & infographic:

    I’m so very much looking forward to this meal plan idea. Yes yes yes!

  16. Posted by SarahS - 01/14/2011

    Very eagerly awaiting today’s meal plan! Very happy to have found this site

  17. Posted by Melanie - 01/18/2011

    I’d love to be a guest meal plan contributor… I spent 2009 on a paid meal planning system ($1/week online, they sent you a plan & grocery list each week, you could customize at will…) I ended up doing more custom planning than accepting what they sent out, so for 2010 I experimented with just doing my own meal plans/grocery lists (free!) Although it has contributed to my kitchen clutter, I actually kept most of the meal plans (1 pc paper per week…) because I use them for inspiration when I’m stumped or resorting to hamburger helper, again… Let me know if you think that’s a possibility!

  18. Posted by A.J. - 01/18/2011

    I use these dinner categories to make meal plans. They are very flexible guidelines that help me decide what to make.

    * Dinner Salad – Many options available. Sometimes add grilled chicken or steak.
    * Pizza, always homemade in the healthiest manner possible. There are so many options to get creative with pizza toppings.
    * Meat or fish w/Vegetable – Grilled chicken breast, pork chops, steak, broiled fish.
    * Mexican or Italian – These include tacos, enchiladas, spaghetti, lasagna.
    * Slow cooker – Usually soup or or stew on Sundays.

  19. Posted by Christine - 01/18/2011

    This is a awesome site so glad I found you on twitter, Love the meal planning charts and the recipes, cant wait to try some of them. the oven baked rice sounds so good. will be trying that one tomorrow.

  20. Posted by Pearl Cabin - 01/22/2011

    This is great! It is always a struggle for singles to eat healthy. And cooking at home always seems to be a struggle.

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