How Meal Plan

how meal plan

Meal planning can save time and money while helping you eat healthier while managing health conditions more easily. But where should you start? Here is our guide on how to get started meal planning.

Begin by reviewing what’s already in your fridge, pantry and freezer before creating a list of what you need – be sure to cross off items you already have so as to not purchase duplicates!

Make a grocery list.

Create a comprehensive grocery list (also referred to as a master grocery list) of all the ingredients and staple food items necessary for keeping your home stocked up with essential supplies. A basic grocery list (or master grocery list) can help with meal planning, shopping within a budget, and preventing mis-buys when sharing this responsibility among multiple individuals.

Make sure your list includes essentials like bread, pasta, rice, frozen vegetables, canned fruits and tomatoes, milk, eggs and butter – these items can all be easily replenished at the store. In addition, stockpiling healthy extras such as whole grains, seasonings & spices baking essentials oils vinegars & condiments with long shelf lives would also be worthwhile investing in.

Your grocery list can be created either digitally or with paper and pen, but we suggest going digital. Doing it this way ensures you won’t misplace or misremember it at the store, plus adding an “Add Grocery Lists to Home Screen” shortcut can quickly generate and store a new list.

Consider organizing your grocery list according to the aisles you will be shopping in, as this can help keep you on track while simultaneously reducing trips and making sure nothing slips through the cracks. For example, dividing it into “Fresh,” “Refrigerated” and “Pantry” categories makes finding exactly what you are searching for easier and saves time searching aimlessly for it.

Keep a running list of any items that have run out daily, either on a whiteboard in the kitchen or notepad pinned to your fridge, encouraging all members of your household to contribute. Use this list when compiling your master grocery list – keeping track of food allergies or cutting certain food groups out will also be invaluable; using it will also allow for wise shopping at grocery stores without making impulse purchases that could compromise health goals.

Make a menu.

Try and meal plan once every week (or more often if necessary). Before searching for recipes, go through your fridge, cupboards and freezer to assess what you have available to you and note any ‘use by’ dates, homemade frozen meals you might still have stored away and any ingredients needed. Doing this helps reduce waste while decluttering storage areas!

Once you know what supplies you have on hand, use your calendar to determine how many meals will need to be made in advance. Don’t forget breakfast, lunch and dinner — each should be planned out ahead. A blank calendar or weekly meal-planning template such as our provided below or even an app can help with this task.

Apps can provide recipe inspiration based on your dietary restrictions and preferred meals, and allow you to easily add all the required ingredients directly onto an automatically organized grocery list. They’re great resources when starting to meal plan for yourself – especially when starting out!

Select several recipes you are confident you can complete within the time constraints of your schedule, with an eye toward versatile ones that can be used multiple ways during meal prep time – for instance a black bean corn salad could be served one day as a quesadilla, another day as a salad and on yet another occasion added to a healthy burrito bowl containing whole grains!

Speak to your family members and friends who can give advice. Finally, select a day for food prep. It is ideal to do this at the start of each week before cooking starts; if this seems daunting or overwhelming to you, commit to one meal prep session per week at first and increase it gradually as your efforts increase.

Making a meal plan may initially seem daunting, but once you get into a routine it will become easier each week. Spending extra time now will save time, money and stress in the future!

Make a prep day.

Planned meal preparation reduces stress and indecision around mealtime, increases chances of home cooking over drive-thrus or takeout pizza delivery and ensures people stick to healthy diets. While developing this skill may take practice, experts say planning can save money, encourage nutritious food choices and even help manage health conditions such as diabetes more effectively.

As part of your meal planning efforts, take an inventory of what food items and ingredients are already in your freezer, pantry and fridge – this may provide inspiration for weekly meal ideas if there are leftovers like chicken, tomatoes, eggs and basil! For instance, these could make an easy breakfast, dinner or lunch dish!

Once you’ve outlined your meals and snacks for the week, schedule a prep day (aiming to select a similar date each time). Spend this day cutting veggies, cooking grains and meats and prepping other food items that can quickly be added into meals throughout the week like salad greens for salads, hardboiled eggs and cooked beans. It can also be used as an opportunity to stock up on healthy shelf-stable items like sauce jars, pasta with whole grains such as whole wheat pastas or cereals, dried beans & legumes fresh fruits & veggies as well as healthy oils & spices!

Food planning templates typically feature a day/meal chart and space to write in meals for each day of the week and type. You may be able to find designs that provide additional elements as well, like budget spaces or labels for freezer containers; others might offer “spare thoughts,” which could come in handy should something slip past while shopping. You should select a design that meets your specific needs and preferences when using this template.

Make leftovers part of your plan.

People often bemoan the monotony of leftovers, but this can be easily solved through meal planning. By including leftovers as part of your weekly schedule you are more likely to eat them and reduce food waste at the same time! Plus meal planning also saves money by using up what’s already there in your fridge instead of throwing food away!

Repurposing leftover components into another meal later in the week is a common tactic. Meat from a roast can be turned into sandwiches, or served over egg noodles with gravy as part of another dish; vegetables from stir fries could become part of salad or added to soup later on – using leftovers as ingredients for creating something completely new is much more exciting than simply reheating what was already there each day!

Reducing bland and monotonous leftovers by adding texture can also make them more satisfying, from simply sprinkling with chopped nuts or seeds to adding some roasted or sauteed vegetables for more flavor and variety.

Keep tabs on your leftovers if you want them eaten before they spoil! Label them in the fridge or put a note on your calendar to remind yourself when to consume them – or better yet use apps which track food storage times and set reminders for you.

Meal planning and utilizing leftovers are great ways to save time, money, and effort on a weekly basis. By creating your shopping list in advance and cooking extras while at it, meal planning allows you to avoid repeating meals from scratch or searching through pantry bins in search of those last two boxes of mac and cheese!

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