Plan for the week when you don’t really have time
If you’ve been following my posts for a while, you know I’m all about sharing realistic strategies for meal prepping and grocery shopping. Spending 20 minutes looking in your pantry to check your kitchen inventory, selecting 3 recipes for your weekly meal plan, and grocery shopping on a Sunday can save you so much time during the week—and often money too!
But what about those weeks when you don’t have time to shop and prep on the weekend? I’m coming off of 2 busy, out-of-town weekends, so I thought I’d share how I shop for the week when I don’t have time to select a menu or even check what I have at home. Typically this happens to me after vacation, even if it’s just a day or two out of town on the weekend. Missing that full Sunday for chores can often throw off my whole week. Below is a list of everything I picked up this Sunday on the fly.
This week was unique for me since we got our first CSA box from Angelic Organics Farm. So I did come home to a couple of produce items, but I’ll also include in this post the produce I would have bought if we didn’t get that delivery.
My No-Time-for-Planning-Post-Vacation Shopping List
Typically I shop for produce based on recipes so this category can be tricky without a plan. Instead of picking up random items, I select the vegetables I eat the most often because I know I’ll be able to integrate them into a meal. In my case that’s: sweet potatoes, baby spinach/kale, and broccolini. I also get lemons and garlic because they’ll allow me lots of flexibility in creating flavors and both of those ingredients last a while so if I happen to already have them, they won’t go to waste. A few of my go-to improvised meals are hashes, burritos bowls, and salads so these veggies and seasonings will make whipping those up really easy. (My CSA this week included herbs, salad greens, bok choy, beets and broccoli so I didn’t pick up any more produce other than the sweet potatoes and lemons)
I also make sure to pick up one ready-to-eat fruit item. This week I got strawberries, bananas, and avocados, but other berries or chopped fruit would work well too. This isn’t the week to get a melon to cut up or peaches that you have to watch ripen—save those for weeks when you have more time for Sunday prep.
If I don’t know what I have in my fridge, getting a dozen eggs is always a safe bet. I can make quick omelettes and frittatas or simply fry an egg to go on top of a veggie hash. Without time to plan and prep, meat eaters will probably want to skip the meat counter this week and instead go for prepackaged 1 lb containers of sustainably raised ground meat. These can easily be frozen for the future or cooked really quickly during the week for hashes, tacos, salads, etc.
I also love getting housemade guacamole on these weeks because a dollop of that turns a bunch of random vegetables into more of a dish. Also, I treat myself to a couple bottles of kombucha. Traveling (and vacation food) are notoriously hard on digestion so I figure a few extra probiotics once I’m back home can be helpful.
On weeks you don’t have time to prep, it’s easy to rely on processed foods or just grab a bunch of snacks at the store. Instead I like to pick up a salsa to go with the guac—basically anything can be turned into a taco or burrito bowl with these to ingredients. I also get 1-2 healthyish snacks (currently digging the Thai Curry Cashews from Whole Foods) so that I’ll have something to reach for if my on-the-fly meals don’t end up being too filling or impressive.
Travel Items for Next Time
The last thing I do is pick up any travel treats or toiletry items that I may just have run out of, so I’m not scrambling for the next weekend trip. This time I picked up travel shampoo and conditioner since I just ran out, and I’m sure I won’t think of it until 11pm the night before my next trip. Now, before I put away my toiletry bag, I’ll restock it, and it will be totally ready to go for the next time I’m packing. (My husband taught me this strategy!) Also, assuming you travel somewhat regularly, you could easily pick up more shelf-stable snacks for your next weekend away like Larabars, dried fruit, and nuts.