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Meal Planning When Life Throws You a Curveball

Meal Plan

Last Updated on January 23, 2024

Does anyone else feel that as soon as you get the hang of your schedule, it changes? Every time I think I’ve mastered something, I get thrown a curveball. 

Meal planning when life throws you a curveball from #zerowaste #mealplanning #plantbased #simple #mealprep

I am a perfectionist friends. And, I know we talk about how it’s not about perfection over and over and over again.

This is not only a great reminder for you – but an even better reminder for myself. 

Life is messy. You can either fight it and make yourself miserable, or you can embrace it, learn from it, and change. 

Justin and I used to work together. But, he went back to school the first of September.

We talked all about school supplies, back to school snacks, and how to make a five-minute meal plan. 

I think my meal planning method is still rock solid. But, our schedules just don’t line up.

Often times he comes home at 9 pm and he’s eaten out or not hungry. Meanwhile, the leftovers will go uneaten because he can’t heat them up at school. 

He’s restricted to cold meals. And, I am a social cook. If I’m cooking for myself, I tend to just not eat. Which is obviously… not recommended. This is why meal prepping is SO important. 

Now, there’s a wrench thrown into how much food to buy, how much food to make, and when to make it. 

hammer out the new schedule:

This takes persistence and flexibility. I know that there’s a very high likely chance that Justin will get hungry before coming home at 9 pm.

So, I need to focus on just vegetarian recipes or a recipe that can be delicious eaten cold the next day. Or I need to focus on something that can transform into something else. 

I can’t just turn on auto-pilot like I have in the past. Instead I’ll have to check in more often, and focus on more flexibility.

less prepping: 

I will be prepping less food in one day, and prepping more the night before.

I made mini-quiches which were delicious, but they went uneaten because he did not like eating them cold. 

So, now I’ll be focusing on muffins and smoothies. Portability has become important. He doesn’t have the luxury of a work kitchen. 

how much food to buy:

I’m still figuring it out. We’ve had several vegetables go bad; because we haven’t gotten to them.

He’s been eating out more, and I’ve been not eating. We want both of these habits to stop. Temporarily I’ll be heading to the grocery store more often, until I can find our new perfect amount of food. 


This week, I’m going to be making banana bread, smoothies, and cookies

Cooking is still so important. We want to eat real, unprocessed food, but we’re still working on getting on the same page. I’m on the lookout for new recipes to add to our meal rotation that can fit into this new season of life. 

I’d be thrilled if we had this sorted out and back on schedule by mid-October.

Do you have any suggestions? What are some of your favorite portable recipes? Or do you have any that are great cold? 

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  1. I don’t know if he likes cold grain salads but those are so delicious- with barely or farrow or some hearty grain, some chopped veggies, curry spices and dried fruit is really yummy. Pasta salads with the dressings on the side to prevent pasta from getting soggy could also work (like pesto/tomato/mozzarella or more of a classic one), and you could even prep sandwiches- put all toppings in baggies and he could assemble them when he eats. Just some ideas!

  2. I don’t have a 100% solution but I so feel you. Between myself, my husband who wants to eat vegetarian but struggles to find veggie food he really likes (some of my weird lentil meals have been a miss… which means I have to eat all the leftovers), and 2 roommates who sometimes gobble up leftovers and other times buy veggies that never get eaten, it can seem impossible. My solution is to plan in shorter increments and to cook less. And to freeze! I love to make a batch of biscuits, bake a few, and freeze the rest ready to go. Same goes for muffins, chili, soup, bread, even some chopped veggies can go right in for later use. Then when I evaluate the week or the next couple of days, I can take something out the night before to be ready to eat or heat up the next day. Also for Jenny’s suggestion below, we love this orzo Greek salad recipe and we can get all of the ingredients in bulk, produce, or at the salad bar – Cheers! Love the blog!

  3. One recommendation I have might be a partial solution. I don’t like reheating my food in the microwave, so if I have leftovers that I have cooked for dinner and I plan to eat them for lunch the next day, I just leave it out overnight in my Pyrex container. At least the food is room temperature, and you don’t really have to worry about the food going bad in that short time period. I do this for vegetarian meals and meat dishes alike.

    If all else fails, you can have sandwiches.

    1. That is not true about it going bad. Any amount of time in the "danger zone" of 40-140 degrees is too much. I believe that past an hour or two is when things can get really bad from what I remember from Food Safety classes. I hope you don’t work in a restaurant!

  4. Not helping for portable but my husband works late and often not home for dinner, so I freeze a lot of vegie meals for myself. Soups are great. I also cook up a batch of lentils then freeze in one meal portions with frozen roasted pumpkin or sweet potato. Before work I just get out and leave in freezer and they are ready to reheat when I get home, then I just put together with portion of precooked buckwheat and some other green veg and I have dinner. My hubby just tops up with muffins, smoothies or cereal when he gets home.

  5. Hi Kathryn,

    My husband takes a salad of cooked grain or rice, roasted veggies and lettuce/rocket with a protein (cheese, cooked chicken etc) and if he is out for 2 meals, he has a tortilla wrap filled with falafel etc to break up the monotony and not eat too much wheat! The kids eat roughly the same too with a granola and berries dessert! Hope that helps. I try to get lots of veggies and not too much wheat into the mix! Best of luck.

  6. When i make chili, my husband loves taking a glass container of left over sauce and some bread to work. It is more delicious the next day and tastes great cold

  7. In Australia zucchini slice is very popular and is good hot or cold. I guess it’s like a crustless quiche/ omelette type dish? 3 grated zucchini, 1 cup grated cheese, 4-5 eggs, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper… One diced onion cooked with bacon if you like it (my husband is Muslim so I use corn instead) and about 3/4-1 cup flour. Mix all together and bake

  8. We have a stainless-steel soup thermos for my kids to use at school (hot soup in the winter – yum). It is also great for both making and eating overnight-type rolled oats. You can take toppings (raisins, brown sugar, etc.) in a container, also – there are tons of recipes for different flavor combinations of overnight oats online. As for leftover or about-to-go over veggies, you can use almost any vegetable to make savory or sweet breads and muffins. It is really the same as making zucchini bread or loaded corn muffins (throw veggies in the batter). Just shred raw veggies or use leftover cooked ones. Breads and muffins keep really well in the freezer.