“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
Once a week, I am going to start sharing a tip, trick, or some interesting information about meal planning. I believe meal planning is critical to any long term and effective healthy living or weight loss goals. For me it was the single thing that finally made permanent weight loss achievable. The quote stood true, when I failed to plan, I failed, and I don’t want that to happen to others.
Additionally, I believe that meal planning is a skill that takes time to master and we can all use some help! When I first started meal planning it took up countless hours pouring over recipes, calculating nutritional info and/or points, and creating elaborate calendars. It was painful. Anything I can do to ease that pain for someone else is a win-win in my book.
Finally, I hope by sharing meal planning strategies, it will help you find a system that works for you. Whether it’s using our meal plans, scratching one into your weekly planner, or creating your own meal planning system – I hope this feature inspires you to start planning at least a few meals every week. It will save you time, money, and it truly will help you reach your weight loss and healthy living goals. So with that, on to this week’s tip!
Meal Planning Made Easy: Leftovers!
In my opinion the key to any great meal plan is incorporating and re-purposing leftovers so that recipes can do double duty. Cook extra servings and reuse them for lunches and/or quick dinners and you won’t find yourself scrambling and starting from scratch at every meal. Here are some of my favorite ways to re-purpose leftover proteins and veggies to create new meals.
- Tacos & Burritos: Tacos and burritos are one of my favorite ways to use up extra veggies or proteins. Make Mexican style tacos with your favorite salsa, Asian tacos with cabbage and Sriracha, or veggie packed tacos with avocado. Use low carb tortillas or wraps for even less calories.
- Soups, Stews, and Chilis: Leftover proteins like shredded chicken or beef can easily be added to a cup of your favorite store bought vegetable soup for a quick lunch. Add leftover veggies or beans to creamy store bought vegetable soups. For a more substantial meal, use leftover proteins with a homemade soup packed with veggies and whole grains like pasta, brown rice, or quinoa. Chili is also a great way to incorporate leftover ground or slow cooked meats.
- Pasta Sauces: For a quick pasta dinner, bulk up your favorite store bought pasta sauce with leftover meats or veggies. All you have to do is add your leftovers to the sauce as you warm it up and serve it over pasta for a meal in under 15 minutes.
- Stuffed Baked Potatoes: If you have a microwave nearby, you can always heat up a regular or sweet potato and pack it with leftover meats, veggies, or beans. Top with some cheese, salsa, yogurt, or marinara sauce for a complete meal in minutes.
- Quesadillas: Much like tacos, quesadillas are perfect for leftovers, especially low point veggies. Use a reduced fat cheese and low carb wrap to keep the calories low.
- Pizzas: Pizzas are another great vehicle for leftovers. For a meal for the family, use leftover proteins to make a delicious homemade pie. For example, leftover grilled chicken can easily become a BBQ Chicken Pizza without too much work. For individual meals, consider using low carb wraps or English muffins to make individual pizzas that work with any leftover meats, veggies, or legumes.
- Salads: Salads are a classic use for leftovers but make sure to bulk them up with lots of fresh veggies and fruit. I almost always add a chopped apple, mandarin, or cup of berries to my salads to keep them exciting. Goat cheese or feta cheese can round things out to make a salad worthy of any meal.
- Lettuce Wraps: For low carb diets or when you have high calorie leftovers, consider wrapping things up in lettuce leaves or collard greens instead of tortillas or wraps. This makes a very low calorie and fun way to enjoy leftovers. Salad dressing , salsa, or store bought marinades can tie everything together.
- Quiches and Frittatas: When in doubt, throw it in with eggs! Quiches, frittatas, omelets, and scrambles taste great with almost any leftovers.
- Brown Rice and Quinoa Bowls Whenever you make brown rice or quinoa, make a few extra servings. It is easy to build a meal with veggies, beans, and/or leftover proteins on a bed of healthy grains. Top with hummus, salsa, marinades or dressings, or some balsamic vinegar and cheese.
- Enchiladas: Last but not least, enchiladas area great way to use up leftovers. Stuff them with leftover meat, veggies, or beans and then add your favorite enchilada sauce. It’s a quick and easy meal and can be packed with as many veggies as you like in addition to the leftovers.
- What are your favorite ways to use leftovers?
Love the idea of meal planning but don’t want to do all the work? Since I know that many people simply don’t have the time to create their own healthy meal plans, we provide delicious and healthy meal plans at Slender Kitchen.
Here are some highlights from this week’s healthy meal plans:
- Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos with Black Bean and Corn Tacos
- Slow Cooker Black Bean Enchiladas (vegetarian plan)
- Creamy Tomato, Mushroom, and Spinach Pasta (with spaghetti squash and sausage for low carb)
- Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken with Sweet Potatoes
- Korean Beef (or Tofu) Lettuce Wraps
- Italian Pesto Chicken Bake with Parmesan Zucchini
- Foil Baked Salmon and Asparagus with Cauliflower Rice
- Healthy Grilled Cheeseburger Wraps
- Homemade Chia Berry Jam Parfaits
- Skinny Pina Colada Smoothies
- Banana Quinoa Breakfast Bowls with Melted Peanut Butter
- Egg White, Tomato, & Avocado Breakfast Sandwiches
- Paprika Cauliflower Steaks with Corn Salsa (vegetarian plan)
Each healthy weekly meal plan comes full of delicious recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The meal plans come in regular, vegetarian, and low carb options. All feature complete nutritional information, Weight Watchers PointsPlus®, and categorized shopping lists! There are also two bonus fallback recipes weekly and the option for either a complete meal plan or a Dinner Only plan. All that for less the cost of one cup of coffee per month with the yearly plan.