Meal Planning: Healthy, Easy, and Delicious Dishes to Make for the Work Week

Meal planning can save you time, money, and stress. It can also help you add more variety to your typical diet and can keep you excited about what you're eating. Cooking flavourful meals doesn't have to be a nightly chore, as Emily L. Cristobal shares in this article on the benefits of meal planning, with some recipes to get you started!


As the summer months come to an end and the hecticness of school and work commences, one way to manage your time within your busy schedule is to meal plan. Meal planning, also known as meal prepping, is scheduling what meals you'll make and eat over the course of a week or a couple of days. 

Meal planning has a lot of benefits. First of all, it saves you time, money, and stress. By meal planning, you don't have to worry about figuring out what to make or cooking every night. Furthermore, it helps you organize your meals when shopping for groceries. This prevents you from buying unnecessary items at the grocery store, thus saving you money. You simply buy just enough ingredients for the meals that you will make, and you will never have the problem of wasting food. Meal planning can also help you create a healthier diet. By planning your meals in advance and balancing your intake of fruits, vegetables, carbs, and protein, you can start living a more health-conscious life.

The misconception of meal planning is that people often eat the same foods every day, but this is simply not the case. By planning what meals to cook in advance, you can increase the variety of foods that you eat, which is perfect if you love cooking new recipes and trying new foods. When meal planning, most people usually cook about two to three different dishes, alternating the type of meal they eat daily so that you will not get tired of eating the same thing every day.  If you don’t feel like creating different meals, you can also add slight variations by making side salads, sautéed or fresh vegetables, fruit bowls, or even adding a few cubes of tofu and soy sauce to your meals. 

Although meal planning may not be for everyone, it is certainly worth a try as long as you are willing to put in the effort.

Here are a couple of easy and delicious meals I like to cook. I often eat these meals with rice, which varies from white, brown, or a mixture of both. 

*Tip: If you eat rice as regularly as I do, it is a good idea to invest in a rice cooker. If not, rice can easily be cooked in a pot over the stove.

Japanese Curry

I usually buy a pack of S&B Golden Curry Sauce Mix (or any other brand that is available at your grocery store). You can either use a meat of your choice (beef, chicken, or pork) or no meat at all. Curry is best with a variety of vegetables. You can use whichever vegetables you prefer, but I usually use carrots, celery, potatoes, and onions.

When cooking, you will most likely be using a pot and a pan: a pan to cook your meat and a pot to cook the curry.

First add water and the S&B curry mix to the pot. Read the curry box for further instructions for how much water to add.

Stir until the curry block begins to dissolve. Once it is dissolved you will notice that it will begin to get thicker; at this point, you can add your vegetables.

While your vegetables are cooking, you can start sautéing your meat in the pan with a little bit of oil. Once the meat is cooked, add it to your curry mixture.

Depending on how thick you want your curry, you can make it thinner (soupier) by adding water. Once you reach your preferred consistency, you are done!

When it is cooled off, you can prep your meal. Grab a reusable container, add however much curry you would like to eat, then add your rice on top so that the cover of your container will not get curry stains. Place it in the fridge and it is ready to grab and go for the next day! 

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Salmon

When cooking salmon, I usually use an oven. Cooking salmon is literally so easy and pretty fast. 

Place the salmon on a sheet pan covered in foil. 

Season the salmon with salt, pepper and some vegetable oil. If you want to be fancy, you can add capers.

Place the salmon in the oven and bake it at 400 °F for 12 to 15 minutes. 

Once it’s finished, wait for it to cool, then prep your meal in a container. 

If you don’t want to use rice, salmon is also great with salad. You can add cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, or any other toppings you like to eat.

Shoyu Chicken

Shoyu chicken is a delicious local Hawaiian dish that is easy to make, and you honestly can’t go wrong with it.

To make shoyu chicken, all you need is chicken thighs, soy sauce, brown sugar, and garlic cloves. Place all the ingredients in a large pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. 

Once it is at a boil, bring it to a low heat and cook it slowly for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until the chicken is tender. A great thing about cooking shoyu chicken is that you don’t have to worry about eating undercooked meat because you can just leave the chicken in the pot to simmer. The longer you keep it in, the more the chicken soaks up the sweet and salty soy sauce and brown sugar mixture. 

For more comprehensive instructions and measurements, click here.

Once the chicken is cooked, let it cool. Grab a container, fill it with your desired amount of rice, place the chicken on top, then add a spoonful of the soy sauce and brown sugar mixture over the chicken for extra flavor. 

Because this is a very rich dish, you can eat it with a side salad to add some freshness to your meal.


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