Meal planning is an essential skill for those seeking a healthier diet. Not only does it reduce stress, save money, and minimize food waste, but it’s also very economical!
Meal planning for one can be a chore, but with these helpful tricks you’ll make it a breeze! These strategies have been created specifically with the single cook in mind–fewer leftovers, greater variety and plenty of flexibility in mind.
Plan Your Meals
Planning meals is essential for meeting your nutrition goals, cutting back on food waste, and saving money. But when cooking for oneself, the task can seem intimidating.
Thankfully, there are a few tricks to making meal planning simpler for solo cooks. These suggestions will save time, reduce food waste, and create delicious dishes sure to please.
Start by planning your meals around ingredients. Doing this will help you maintain consistency in your eating habits. For instance, one meal could be meatless each week, while others might feature Whole Grain Wednesdays or Stir-Fry Fridays as healthy options.
Next, stock up on produce and proteins that can be used in multiple recipes. Doing this will save you from having to purchase the same types of items each week.
Additionally, buying vegetables and proteins that can be used in various recipes will save money.
Another way to reduce food waste is to repurpose leftovers for new meals. Try repurposing proteins and vegetables in recipes such as veggie fried rice or spaghetti carbonara.
Once you have planned your meals, create a grocery list. This may seem daunting at first, but it will serve as an invaluable tool in keeping you on track. Whether it is done on paper or through an app, having all of your information organized beforehand allows for convenient planning for the next shopping trip.
Make a Shopping List
One of the best ways to save time and money when shopping is by creating a list that you stick to. This will guarantee you only buy what you need, avoiding impulse buys of items that look appealing but aren’t on your list at all.
A well-stocked shopping list will help you locate the best deals at your local grocery store and avoid any unneeded impulse purchases. A typical list for one person might include produce such as fruits and vegetables, proteins and dairy items, along with staples like bread, milk, pasta or rice and frozen dinners.
Making time to create a thoughtfully composed shopping list will pay dividends in the long run. Not only will it reduce food waste, save you money and effort when grocery shopping, but it can also give you added assurance when cooking at home. With an organized list in hand, making this step can make all the difference.
This list can be tailored to fit your individual needs, but it’s best to start by writing a brief one-pager. Not only is the information presented here easy to follow but also helps you sidestep some common pitfalls that plague those of us who attempt to shop alone.
With these tips in hand, you are sure to leave your local supermarket feeling satisfied and with a bright smile.
Bring a Produce Bag
When planning your meals, be sure to incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables. Doing this will ensure your meal plan is balanced and nutritious, plus it saves money since fresh produce lasts longer in your fridge or pantry than frozen or canned items.
One of the simplest ways to reduce plastic waste is by taking a reusable produce bag with you when shopping at the grocery store. These eco-friendly bags make for an effortless zero-waste alternative to those thin plastic bags typically provided for carrying fruits and veggies from the produce section of stores.
Most reusable produce bags are constructed from breathable materials to keep food fresher. Some are constructed out of cotton, which is a naturally biodegradable and softer than polyester and absorbs moisture better. Others utilize lightweight muslin which allows air circulation for added ventilation.
Sylvia Fontaine, founder of Feasting at Home, notes that breathable fabrics are more comfortable to carry than mesh when traveling. She suggests looking for products with drawstring closures so it’s simple to pack up and keep secure while traveling.
Reusable produce bags are typically machine-washable and dry quickly, so you can use them again and again. You may also hand wash them using a mild soap and warm water; however, be careful not to oversaturate as this could damage the fabric.
Know Your Portion Sizes
One of the greatest obstacles when meal planning and trying to lose weight is portion control. No matter if you are eating at home or out, it can be challenging to know what a suitable portion size is. Measuring cups, spoons and scales can be helpful but may not always be available when dining out.
It is essential to be mindful of portion sizes when it comes to protein and carbohydrates, since those foods tend to be the highest in calories. Meat, fish, poultry and tofu are all excellent sources of protein.
A serving of protein is typically 3 to 4 ounces, or the size of a palm full. The same portion can also be used to measure carbohydrates such as grains, starches and fruits.
Meal portions should be evenly split between fruits, vegetables and protein-rich foods like meat. This way, everything fits on your plate without being overstuffed.
Accurate portion control can help you prevent overeating, which could lead to weight gain and an increased risk for serious health complications like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and breathing difficulties.
Bring a Recipe Book
Recipe books are an excellent way to store and organize recipes you enjoy. Additionally, they help you stay organized when shopping for ingredients at the grocery store or planning meals ahead of time.
Recipe books can be printed and kept in a binder, journal or folder; alternatively they can be downloaded and shared through websites and apps. A recipe book makes an ideal gift for friends and family members alike!
One way to organize your recipe book is by categorizing the recipes by meal type, such as breakfast, lunch and dinner. This will enable you to quickly find the recipes you need without having to search through a lot of information.
Another way to organize your recipes is by adding photos of the dishes you’ve prepared. Not only will this add color and flair to your cookbook, but it will also remind you what meals your family has enjoyed in the past.
Your cookbook can also include helpful details, such as storage tips, ingredient substitutions and equipment needed. Doing this makes planning meals much simpler – saving both time and money while cooking at the same time!
Create a recipe book by planning out the page format and fonts that work best for your recipes. Doing this ensures your readers don’t end up with pages full of unreadable text or images. Furthermore, take into account spacing issues as well as overall page layout.
Make a Plan for Leftovers
Leftovers are an excellent way to save money, time and effort in the kitchen. Whether cooking for one person or a small family, planning meals around leftovers is essential.
Maximize Your Leftovers
To maximize leftovers, plan larger portions than what your family will consume on the night of the meal. That way, you can enjoy what’s left over later in the week and ensure none of it goes to waste!
When cooking a recipe, be sure to have the appropriate containers for any leftover ingredients. These could include extra sauces, spices, fruit or vegetables. Storing these in your back kitchen will guarantee you always have delicious and nutritious dishes at your disposal!
Another great way to use up leftovers is by turning them into new and exciting recipes. Repurposing meats, veggies and fruits into soups, stews, pasta dishes and more will give your leftovers a new life!
For example, leftover chicken or beef can be transformed into a delicious soup or stew. Or leftover steak can be rolled up into tortillas for burritos or used to top salads!
Plan ahead and come up with inventive ways to use up leftovers. Not only will this save you money, but it also enhances the taste of the food.
Once you have a plan for using your leftovers, be sure to add them to your website Planner. Do this by clicking on a meal and selecting “Plan as Leftover.”