How to Meal Plan and Stick to It
No matter your nutrition goals or just wanting to make healthier meals, meal planning can be a powerful tool.
Additionally, food waste reduction can save money for businesses.
However, if you don’t stick to your plan, it can be easy to get off track. Here are some strategies for sticking with your meal plan and maintaining healthy eating habits.
Make it a priority
Just like exercising, meal planning should become an established habit. While it may seem intimidating at first, with practice comes improvement and more efficient planning that’s easier to stick to.
Planning ahead of time not only saves money and time, but it’s also a great way to avoid impulse purchases at the grocery store by adhering to an established budget.
Additionally, it can help you prioritize healthy foods and minimize food waste. Furthermore, it makes following a diet with an array of fresh fruits and vegetables, protein, vitamins, minerals and whole grains easier.
Before you begin meal planning, take a look at your schedule and determine when you have time to cook. If you have piano lessons, a work event, or family commitments, plan your meals accordingly so that there is ample time for preparation.
Begin by selecting one day each week to plan your meals for the coming week. This could be as straightforward as Friday or Sunday morning. Additionally, this is an ideal time for grocery shopping since there will be fewer people around and you may find better deals.
Once your schedule is in order, create a list of all the food items you will need. You can use either a note app on your phone or pen and paper for this task.
Once you have your list, check to see what’s on sale at your local grocery store for the upcoming week. This can be an excellent way to maximize savings if you’re a savvy shopper and always keep an eye out for weekly sales.
If you’re unsure how to approach meal planning, reaching out to a dietitian is always your best bet. These professionals specialize in helping individuals navigate complex nutrition topics and finding practical ways to incorporate nutritious eating into their lifestyles.
Once you make meal planning a priority, it can be an excellent way to reduce stress, save money and time, while making healthy eating effortless! Just remember that if it no longer works for you, adjust your routine accordingly.
Make it simple
To ensure you eat nutritious meals, plan your meals ahead of time. Not only will this save you time, but it will also ensure that you remain committed to following through with your diet.
Meal planning may seem intimidating at first, but with practice you will find it much simpler. The key to successful meal planning is to start small and build up your repertoire over time.
Making meal planning effortless? Start by considering what foods you already enjoy eating, then search for recipes that are simple to prepare and can be completed quickly. These dishes can either be traditional favorites or you can come up with new creative ideas tailored towards your schedule and family preferences.
Once you and your family have a list of foods that both of you enjoy eating, try to include them in meals at least several times each week. This will add more variety and make eating out more enjoyable for everyone.
You don’t need to buy ingredients if you already have them on hand. For instance, if you have a rotisserie chicken in your fridge, you can prepare it for meals throughout the week. Additionally, roasting vegetables as sides for multiple meals is easy too – just grab one from your fridge!
Before you begin planning meals, be sure to check the expiration dates of your ingredients. Doing this helps minimize waste and ensure you only use what you already have on hand.
Another way to simplify meal planning is by purchasing convenience items like salad kits or containers of chopped fruits and vegetables. These will be easier to use than raw ingredients, saving you valuable time in preparation.
If you don’t already have a pantry or freezer, investing in a food storage bag can help keep leftovers fresh until use. Not only will this save you money on groceries, but meal planning has never been simpler!
Planning ahead can also help you avoid overpreparing your food, which often leads to waste. According to FoodPrint, nearly 27% of all food produced in the United States ends up as waste.
Keep a well-stocked pantry
Maintaining a well-stocked pantry is an efficient way to maximize cooking time and minimize food waste. Not only does this save money, but it also helps you stay on track with your budget.
Step 1: Examine your pantry and identify what items already reside there. These could include basic staples like oats, flour and other dry goods. Or you might have some canned goods that you use regularly or some frozen snacks that your family enjoys snacking on.
Determine how much of each basic you typically require each week and use this as a guideline for how much to purchase when they go on sale.
Once you know what ingredients you need, scan through your grocery store’s sales ads for any deals that apply to the items on your list. You may even come across coupons that allow you to buy more for less – saving you money in the long run!
Plan your pantry staples according to sales and what your family loves to eat. That way, you won’t end up buying too much or too little of something and having it spoil before use.
Another tip is to rotate your pantry so the oldest items are used first. This strategy works especially well with grains like rice or oats as well as dry goods that may have been around a few years.
Organization is key when organizing your pantry. Divide it up into zones and have a designated shelf for each, so that you can quickly locate what you need no matter where in the kitchen you are.
Furthermore, having matching containers for all pantry essentials is a great idea; this will enable you to quickly locate them when necessary and see when you’re running low on any of the staples.
A well-stocked pantry can be a lifesaver when you’re short on time and don’t know what to make for dinner. It also helps keep your family on track with their health goals; having various healthy snacks available helps prevent reaching for unhealthy snacks that won’t fill you up or make you feel satisfied.
Make it fun
Planning a meal should be fun! By seeing it as an opportunity to improve your health and save time in the kitchen, you’re more likely to stick with it.
Start by creating a master calendar of meals and snacks for the week. This can help you plan meals that utilize ingredients already in your pantry, refrigerator or freezer.
Another way to make meal planning enjoyable for the kids is by getting them involved. Letting them create a menu plan of their favorite meals will foster family bonding and ensure that dinner tables are filled with nutritious food items.
Meal planning spreadsheets can also assist in organizing your food choices by making it simpler to locate the ingredients needed for a particular recipe. They also keep track of expiration dates, helping prevent overbuying or wastage of food items.
The greatest advantage to having a planner is that it saves you time, money and stress. It’s easy to forget about your grocery list when you’re busy running from class to soccer practice, but with one handy, you know exactly what needs to be bought without breaking the bank or missing out on delicious treats. With one in hand, shopping becomes much less of an effort!