{Plan Ahead} Shopping & Menu Planning


“What are we going to eat today?” The famous question that comes lurking around the house when you get home from work. You look in your fridge and all you see is bread, eggs, milk, peanut butter and some fruit. You didn’t have time to go shopping because you didn’t make time for it and both of you are tired of eating out. How much burritos, burgers and rotisserie chicken can you both eat!?

Many people come to me with their dinner dilemmas in desperate need of some help. The first thing I tell them is, you need to plan ahead.




The three main things you need to complete your dinner or lunch. When you have these figured out, then life can get much easier when it comes to dinnertime.

Here are some questions you need to ask yourself:
1. How many times a week do you both eat at home?
2. How many times a week do you both go out?
3. What type of protein do you like to eat?

Once you have answered these questions, then you can narrow down how many nights you need to cook and what to buy.

For example, we eat only 3-4 times a week, give or take, if we’re not going to our parents’ house. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are eliminated because we are always out of the house. So in my case, this week we are only eating 3 times.

Keeping in mind that we are eating 3 times this week, I still have a back up plan for the fourth night in my freezer just incase. Whether it’s frozen shrimp, frozen tortellini, or frozen pizza. I also make sure we have some sandwich items or shredded cheese and tortillas for quesadillas. Or you can always just defrost something your mom has made for you.  🙂


You and your hubby, or vice versa, are at the store now. You have narrowed down the days that you both will be home cooking, which is 3 nights.  But now you don’t know what to make. As I said before, pick your protein first. Give yourself some variety during the week; you don’t just need to eat chicken everyday.

Day 1. 1 lb Chicken Breasts, boneless
Day 2. 1 lb Altlanic Salmon Fillet, skinless
Day 3. 2 Ribeye Steaks

Ok that was easy right!? Now pick your carb. You should have these staple items in your pantry at all times because they last long and you can use them in a variety of different things.

1. Rice
2. Potatoes
3. Pasta

Now you can move on to your vegetable. I don’t really decide at the store what vegetable I am going to eat with which dinner, I just buy a bunch of veggies and I just make them according to what I am craving with that meal. Also, salads can be considered vegetables. Here are some staple veggies that I always have in my fridge:

1.  A bag of Mixed Greens or Arugula
2. Tomatoes
3. Cucumbers
4. Broccoli or Broccolini
5. Bell Peppers (Red, Yellow and Orange)
6. Pre-Cooked Beets (From Trader Joes)
7. Mushrooms
8. Yellow Onions or Red Onions
9. Carrots
10. Herbs: Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Cilantro, Parsley

Having these veggies on hand at home all the time can be life saver even if you don’t have a protein, you can make stir fry, a salad or make an omelet with these veggies.

Menu Planning

You both came home from shopping and now you have all this food but you don’t know what to make with it. Here is a secret I have: Spices and Bottled Sauces.

I have a lot of this in my pantry, which I am always stocking up on, just incase I need them one day. When I am stuck on something I always turn to my pantry and see what there is that I can whip up with the items I have bought just for added flavor. Salt and Pepper does get boring after a while.

Lets go back to your Proteins and just come up with a Menu Plan, you don’t have to do this on the same day, you can just come up with it one day at a time when you are cooking:

Chicken Breasts
Chicken & Veggie Stir Fry with Rice
Cut your chicken breasts into cubes; slice some bell peppers, onions, mushrooms and broccoli. Using any stir-fry sauce you have at home or just garlic, ginger and soy sauce. Stir Fry the veggies then add the chicken and lastly, the sauce. Serve over your rice.

Salmon Fillets
Roast Salmon with Rosemary Roast Potatoes and Steamed Broccoli
Season your salmon with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cut your potatoes into small chunks and season with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and chopped rosemary. Preheat oven to 400 F, throw in your potatoes, when they are almost done cooking, toss in your fillets and cook until done. Steam your broccoli while your fish and potatoes are cooking. Serve.

Ribeye Steaks
Seared Ribeye Steaks with Arugula, Cucumber, Blue Cheese & Green Apple Salad
Season steaks with salt and pepper, sear each side of your steaks in a hot sauté pan, cooking them 2-3 minutes on each side depending on how well you like your steak. Make your salad by slicing and tossing all the ingredients together. Use balsamic dressing. Serve.

There you go, it really isn’t that hard but once you get the hang of it, it’s all going to be a breeze and you will wonder why you ever had such a hard time with dinner. As long as you know what your protein is going to be, the rest will just flow.

Good Luck!


Chef Alina

Chef Alina
Los Angeles, CA


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