Creating a Meal Library

How to make sure you never get bored of eating the same meals over and over

One concern I hear often from clients when it comes to doing meal prep for healthy eating is that they don’t want to eat the same meals day in and day out. I get it. Food is a big part of our lives and culture, and the thought of eating boiled chicken and steamed broccoli every day is just sad.

But we can have healthy, home cooked meals WITHOUT it getting boring! The trick is to create a Meal Library for yourself. This is simply a list of meals that you enjoy to make at home. I recommend whittling this list down to meals that take very little time or prep, however.

For example, the chicken thighs/wings we make each week only take five minutes of prep. We have a lot of slow cooker meals that take very little prep; just dump stuff in and turn it on. Both of these take a long time to cook, but they don’t require attention while cooking, so I can get other things done while waiting.

Many of our grilled recipes take very little time to cook: just a few minutes on each side. Stir fry and tillapia also cook up quickly. As you come up with your list, keep in mind the goal is to cook and eat these meals at home. If it takes too long to cook or prepare, you might decide to just go out.

Our meal library is simply a note in a shared Evernote notebook. It is organized with some categories: Chicken, Beef, Pork, Seafood, Soups and Other. And then below each category, we list out the meals that fit.

The majority of meals that we find for the list come from Pinterest. On occasion, we’ll try something new, and if it’s a keeper, it gets added to the library.

My current Meal Library in Evernote

What’s great about this method, is it really keeps you from getting into a rut with what you’re eating. On occasion, when we can’t decide on our menu for the week, we’ll consult the meal library, and have that sort of epiphany moment of “Oh! We haven’t had {some meal} in awhile! Let’s do that!”

Now, if you want to get super fancy with organizing your meal library, you absolutely can. Shelby, over at Little Coffee Fox came up with an ingenious way to keep her meal library in her bullet journal.

She uses post-it notes to write down her recipes, as well as the ingredients needed, so when it was time to make her grocery list, all the info she needed was right there. In the vein of not making the same foods over and over again, she also has a section of new meals to try.

And since they are all on post-its, if a new meal is a keeper, it is simple to just move it over to the “old favorites” section. When it’s time to start a new journal, simply peel off the post-its and move them over to the new one.

The post-it method also can be used to force a meal rotation. As you make a meal, move it from one page to another, and you have to use up all your recipes before you can cycle through them again.

Hopefully this will help you get into the habit of cooking and eating more nutritious meals at home. If you’re ready to spend more time relaxing and less time sweating dinner plans after work, check out my Ultimate Guide to Meal Prep! In it, you’ll find tips on how to:

  • Spend less time in the kitchen and less money at the grocery store
  • Store food correctly so it stays fresh and doesn’t go to waste
  • Keep from eating the same food all the time (including a recipe book of ideas to get your meal library started!)
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