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I am going to be doing this for the month of May!

My life can be busy (as most people's lives). I work full time and have a toddler.  I often meal plan and then something happens (I don't have a certain ingredient, we have something come up that keeps us out later than planned, or I'm not feeling well and it completely wrecks the meal plan).

I need solid ideas for back up meals. Things I can keep on hand but won't go to waste. Things that are EASY and QUICK, so if something does come up, I can just throw it together in 20 minutes or so without falling off the bandwagon.

Ideas? THANKS!

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Cans of tuna, salmon, chicken, etc. Frozen burger patties. Frozen or canned vegetables. Eggs.

You say you meal plan, but sometimes things don't work out -- have you considered doing a once a week cookup? Takes more time initially, but then during the week, you mostly just reheat. Here's a description of how it could work: http://meljoulwan.com/2010/01/14/paleo-kitchen-the-method-behind-my-madness/. If that's not a good option, I'd still recommend always cooking extra. It doesn't take that much longer to make a couple of extra servings or sometimes even to double recipes, then that food can be saved in the fridge several days, or frozen for a day in the future. 

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Do you have a freezer? That’s where the secret is! I have a busy family and I’ve been doing this for 9 months now. My meal planning goes a bit like this: 

Write shopping list and menu plan at the same time. Plan all meals including 7x breakfast and lunches- sounds silly but you’d be amazed how much food you need, eg. 14 eggs, 7 chicken thighs, etc just for me! 
after shopping check the use by dates on everything and put everything you can except the next two days into the freezer. check your meal plan and if you didn’t get something, change the plan at this stage so you’re not stuck on eg. Thursday night when the shops are closed! 

Then, on a Sunday (for me, but any day) cook and freeze eg seasoned chicken thighs; freeze in pots of 2. Cook a whole chicken and strip the meat; freeze the cooked meat. I cut a whole bag of carrots into sticks for me/the kids to eat raw, boil some eggs. Make meatballs or kofta; freeze some. Make ratatouille and freeze in portions (I like to have this defrosted, crack an egg into it, microwave it til the egg is cooked, - a quick rancheros eggs!) I do this ‘production line’ type assembly for probably 75% of my lunches and breakfasts. l sometimes make a cold salad as well eg. Waldorf, coleslaw or potato salad , and always make my mayo. 

then, final step- every night set a buzzer on your phone to get the food for tomorrow out of your freezer. (This step is optional but I recommend it!) 

if you want to batch cook evening meals as well you can do this too, or cook double of everything when you do cook and freeze half. I tend to cook from scratch as my work allows but I will get the meat from the freezer when my timer goes off to defrost for the next day. 

my kids eat the same protein as me with every meal but they will have eg. Rice or wedges with theirs. And if you have space, frozen veg is really useful too to last you through the week. 
 

good luck! 
 

 

 

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