Planning your meals ahead of time can help you stay on track with your healthy eating goals, while saving both time and money.
Meal planning can be done manually or using an app on your phone – whatever works best for you! Whatever works best is fine – just make sure it becomes part of a regular habit and that it provides benefits!
Make a list of the meals you want to make.
Planning meals ahead of time can reduce stress and save time during the week by taking away from food decision-making. It also helps you stick to a nutritious diet and eliminate unnecessary restaurant meals.
Before you begin meal planning, it is essential to make a list of the meals you wish to prepare. Doing this will enable you to organize your recipes and ingredients more efficiently for easier meal preparation.
First, decide which ingredients you want in your meals–meats, fish, vegetables and starches. Then you can decide which recipes to prepare using those items.
When planning a menu for the week, opt for several main meat or vegetable dishes and then add various side items. This way, you’ll have plenty of choices and the leftovers can be used up later on in the week.
You can also incorporate different grains into your meals, such as brown rice and quinoa. These nutritious options will satisfy hunger while providing extra calories without adding extra pounds to the scale.
Once you have a list of recipes you want to prepare, it is time to begin shopping for ingredients. This step is essential in meal planning since it guarantees you purchase the proper amounts of each ingredient required for each recipe.
To make this process simpler, you can utilize a recipe manager app such as Paprika or Anylist to store your recipes and automatically add them to your shopping list when you visit the grocery store.
By automating your shopping list, you won’t have to manually write down each ingredient and how much of it you need. Plus, you can cross-reference what’s on your shopping list with what already resides in your pantry and freezer.
Next, decide when you will make your recipes. If this is your first time meal planning, start with recipes that require minimal prep so that you can gain experience.
Look at your pantry.
A well-stocked pantry can make it easier to create nutritious meals for your family. Before you get started, create a list of essential items you must have on hand so that everyone’s needs are met.
To organize your pantry effectively, divide the space into distinct categories. These could include ingredients needed for cooking and baking as well as condiments and dry goods.
Stocking your pantry not only saves you money at the grocery store, but it also simplifies meal preparation for busy families. With this organization strategy, it’s possible to prepare meals ahead of time and have them ready when your kids arrive home from school or work.
To organize your space, utilize clear plastic containers to group like items together. These are typically inexpensive and can be purchased at any store. Alternatively, collect containers from other parts of your home that are no longer being used, such as washed-out sauce jars or quart-sized takeout boxes.
Another clever strategy to organize your pantry is using a rack to store canned goods on their sides. This keeps them from getting jostled around in the space and making your food smell bad, while also preventing cans from wobbling and losing their contents.
Once your pantry is organized, implement a “First In, First Out” rule. This ensures that foods get used before they expire or go unused.
This strategy works best when you have a larger pantry. Professional organizers suggest storing the items you use most frequently in high traffic spots so you can easily reach them and view them at a glance.
It’s wise to place heavier items at the bottom of your pantry, so they won’t fall over during transit. Additionally, set snacks on lower shelves so children can easily reach them and help themselves.
In addition to these essentials, keep a variety of vegetables on hand so you can have a nutritious side dish or snack whenever the mood strikes. Diced tomatoes, tomato paste and dried or canned mushrooms are all necessary components for vegetable-heavy recipes; while canned coconut milk adds richness and creaminess to soups, stews, pasta dishes, casseroles and more dishes.
Look at your freezer.
Your freezer is one of the most essential tools in the kitchen, as it allows you to create healthy and economical meals for your family. Plus, it’s a great place to store leftovers so you can enjoy them for days later on.
To organize your freezer efficiently, utilize dividers, containers and bins that create zones in your space. This way you can quickly sort items like bags of frozen vegetables or flat packages of meat without having to dig around for labels.
Organizing your freezer doesn’t need to be a daunting task; it will save both money and time in the long run. By knowing what foods you have and when they expire, as well as being able to locate items for meals planned ahead, organizing your freezer becomes much simpler.
Start by placing the oldest and most used foods at the front, followed by the newest items in the back. That way, older frozen pizzas should go at the front while newer sweet potato fries go at the back.
Staying organized when it comes to freezing foods helps you ensure they get eaten before they spoil. Label everything that goes in your freezer so you can easily keep track of when it was made and how long it has been frozen for.
For an eco-friendly option, try using freezer-safe reusable sandwich bags instead of plastic grocery bags. Not only are these easy to throw in the dishwasher for quick cleanup, but they can also keep food fresh longer when frozen.
Another viable option is purchasing freezer labels, which can be placed on any container containing frozen or refrigerated foods. These labels feature a date that’s easily read and also indicate the contents of the container.
Once you’ve organized the freezer, label everything clearly with a Sharpie and some masking tape. Doing this will help avoid accidentally throwing food away because you didn’t recognize it or couldn’t locate it in the freezer.
Make a shopping list.
Making a list is the fastest way to ensure you don’t forget anything at the grocery store. It also serves as an efficient way to organize what you already have and what needs replenishing, helping you be more efficient when checking out at the register.
To begin making a list, take inventory of what is currently in your fridge, freezer and pantry. This could include staples like milk, eggs and butter as well as food that might be getting close to expiring, like granola bars and canned goods. Be sure to note the expiration dates for each item so you can plan ahead accordingly.
Once you’ve collected all your inventory, it’s time to sit down and create a list. This may take some effort, but the outcome will be worth all the effort in the end.
Depending on your grocery store’s layout, categorizing your list by aisle can make shopping faster. Label the list with color coding or check marks so you know which items belong in which section.
Consider creating a list format that allows you to add items as they are purchased, rather than having everything added at once. This can save time at the store and help avoid impulse purchases that lead to overspending and overbuying.
When making your shopping list, it’s wise to be specific about how much of each item you require. This will make it easier for you to remember what needs to be purchased when the time comes and prevent purchasing too much of something that won’t get used up quickly.
One last thing to think about when making your list is whether there are any coupons available that you can use while shopping. This can be a time saver, especially if you plan on buying many items that are on sale.
An effective way to organize your list is to clip all of your coupons onto a small, non-bulky clipboard before leaving home. That way, they’re easy to grab and flip through while at the checkout line.