By Mike Thayer
Meal planning, especially when grilling, is kind of like a game of checkers or chess - you need to be thinking a couple moves ahead.
There's meal planning for the moment - tonight's dinner - and there's meal planning for future meals.
When you're making dinner, think beyond the meal you're about to enjoy and knowing you need to put chicken on before the steak. When I'm talking meal planning, I'm talking about grilling more than you'll need for dinner, grill up multiple meals! Think about lunch the next day, leftovers for the fridge, future meals in the freezer. You're already prepped and ready to grill tonight's dinner, so take advantage of that charcoal heat, think a couple moves ahead. Doing little things like taking a couple pounds of hamburger out and making some patties to grill up along with that chicken or steak for dinner is meal planning for future lunch and dinner. Had a busy Monday and don't feel like fixing a big meal? No problem, cheese burgers it is!
Another way to meal plan is to prep a bunch of meals for the coming week. I love to grill, so on my days off from work, you'll probably find me lighting the charcoal, not for just one meal, but several. I don't just grill a few things, I grill in big batches, why not, the charcoal is hot! I'll grill up chicken done a couple of ways, some pork chops done in different marinades, a few burgers, perhaps some fish.... Some of that will go in the freezer as a base for future meals, some of that will go in the fridge for the upcoming week.
A good way to meal plan and also keep variety in your lunches and dinners is to just alternate your days with different proteins. What do you feel like, beef, chicken, pork or fish? Start off with what hits you first, then alternate, pairing proteins up with a complimentary veggie. Grilled chicken and broccoli, pork chops and asparagus, steak and mushrooms, fish and green beans.... There, boom, four meals!
This isn't for everyone, but I have a white board in my kitchen, for menus and a grocery list. The point here though, is to jot ideas down.
Look in the freezer, peak in the fridge, check out your pantry and see what you have. Start writing it down in meal planning fashion, if you don't do this kind of thing already, you'll see how really easy it starts to flow - it's easier to craft a shopping list this way too! It's thinking a few moves ahead - checkmate!