The Habit of Cooking – FREE Weekly Meal Planner

The family and I moved in July…three blocks away from our old apartment. It’s a great place on the top floor with an extra bedroom for the little one. It feels amazing to live in a more spacious place. However, we now find ourselves at equal but opposite walking distance from two different supermarkets; both far enough to make you dread doing the groceries, but close enough that you kinda feel guilty for not doing the groceries. The one on the West side one has good prices and is near the Farmer’s market. The one on the East side has a lot more variety, but more expensive, and it’s slightly less annoying to get to. Neither of the supermarkets deliver and we don’t own a car. So for a couple of weeks, it was such a struggle to decide what to eat for dinner.

Then I found Culiniste. Culiniste is one of those subscription services that deliver you the exact amount of ingredients to cook their weekly recipes. I decided to give it a go for a week because I thought it was so convenient; not only do I get to try new healthy recipes, I also don’t need to rack my brain to figure out what we’re eating, and finally, I don’t need to go to the grocery store with a toddler.

What Did I Get

For my trial week, I chose 4 recipes for 2 people. Everything was delivered in an insulated box with ice packs. I chose:

  • Chicken Tikka Masala
  • Bavette Steak and Pan Sauce
  • Pork-Stuffed Red Bell Peppers with White Quinoa
  • Seared Salmon with Orange-Ginger Glaze

My Impressions

Although the meals were advertised for 2 people, we actually found that the meals gave us 4 portions each — yay leftovers! Each recipe was delicious beyond what I had imagined and used cooking techniques that I wasn’t used to. I thought that was a great plus! My box came with recipes for each meal with easy-to-follow pictures. Each meal took me about 40 minutes from start to finish. I especially liked that all the packaging and the box were recyclable. I can even reuse the sauce containers for future needs. In total, we managed to get 16 portions of food. The regular price for a 4-meal weekly plan for 2 people is $78. Because I got a 2 free meals as a first-time sign up, it came to $58 shipping included – that’s $3.62 per portion! If you want to try out Culiniste for yourself, sign up from this link — you’ll also get two meals free!

My Personal Challenge

It was great to get back in the saddle again with cooking. And it was great to have leftovers again! I had almost forgotten how good a fresh home-cooked meal could be. However, I wanted to hold off on ordering a Culiniste box for a second week because I wanted to challenge myself to cook as many healthy meals for a week under $50. So I looked at what I had in my fridge and my pantry and went recipe-hunting on Pinterest. I chose:

So far, I’ve only cooked the One-Pan Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice recipe and it yielded 9 portions! Luckily, my boyfriend’s aunt stopped by for a visit, so we got to share some of our delicious meal with her.

My FREE Meal Planner

After choosing my recipes, I wrote down my shopping list. But I wanted to keep track of my recipes and my shopping list in an organized way. I tried searching for an affordable downloadable meal planner on Etsy, but I just figured I could come up with one myself to my liking. With my planner, I can enter my personal rating, the number of portions my recipes yielded, cost for my groceries, and if any ingredient could be prepped early for speedier cooking. Download it here for free! (Edit: Ignore the number 16 in the +++ column. I meant to write 9, for 9 portions)

Meal Planner
Meal Planner

I was so excited about the end result that I even started planning my meals for the following week. But for that week, my personal challenge was to find delicious gourmet recipes (under $50 if possible):

And, because I’m feeling so excited about taking on my cooking challenge, I’m sharing with you my blank meal planner FOR FREE! (Click on the link to download). Feel free to tweak it to your liking. And let me know if you end up using it or if you have any advice for changes.



Don’t you just feel like like a better parent, a better person, when you can provide a delicious homecooked meal for your family on a budget? I think it’s amazing that more companies like Culiniste are inspiring people like me to get back in the kitchen. Hopefully, I’ve also inspired you to take charge of your own kitchen.


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