Planning meals is the key to healthy eating, whether you’re trying to shed pounds, regulate blood sugar levels or simply eat healthier. Not only does it save money on groceries and reduce food waste, but it can also make meal prep easier!
Meal planning can be a challenging endeavor, particularly if you’re new to it. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to ensure your planning goes as smoothly as possible.
1. Make a list.
Organizing your food storage can save time, energy and money. Plus, it’s an enjoyable way to bond with family members as you make meals together.
Begin your meal planning journey by creating a list. This will give you an overview of what to cook and how much. Create this list using either the Notes app on your phone or using paper planner.
Next, take into account your family’s schedule and the times of day when everyone will be home or available to cook. This will enable you to create a meal plan that works for everyone.
Additionally, this will help you avoid purchasing unnecessary items that will spoil and spending money on overpriced take out meals.
To simplify shopping for everyone in your family, the ideal solution is using a shared shopping list app. This will enable all members of the household to add their items onto one master list, making the entire process much smoother.
Once you have your list, it’s time to begin brainstorming. Use it as inspiration for new dishes or try some of those recipes you’ve been saving for special occasions.
When planning meals, it’s essential to select foods that are easy to prepare. For instance, when making pasta, opt for noodles that are pre-cooked or can be quickly boiled in the microwave.
You can also incorporate leftovers into your meal planning. This is an efficient way to save both time and money, since you’ll be cooking multiple meals from the same ingredients.
Finally, don’t forget to inspect your freezer and pantry before shopping. These often overlooked areas are essential for creating a successful meal plan.
Utilizing a master ingredient list when creating your grocery list is the most efficient way to maximize the use of ingredients you already have on hand. It also serves as an efficient way to keep track of what you already own and what needs to be purchased in order to maximize savings.
2. Make a meal plan.
Meal planning is a great way to ensure you always have nutritious meals on the table, whether you’re on a diet or just trying to save money. Not only does it reduce food waste, improve nutrition and make cooking easier, but it can also help cut back on some expenses as well.
No matter your objectives, it’s essential to take time to create a meal plan before you go shopping. Doing this helps you avoid making unnecessary purchases and saves you time during the week when deciding what to cook for dinner.
If you’re new to meal planning, it can seem overwhelming to contemplate all the dishes that need cooking each week. But to ease into this practice, start with some easy recipes you know you’ll enjoy and gradually add in more complex meals as time goes on.
Once you’ve developed the habit of creating a meal plan, it can be beneficial to review your menu before each grocery store trip and ensure all necessary foods are purchased. You can do this by using either the Notes app on your phone or a pen and paper.
Next, keep your kitchen organized so that you can quickly locate what you need when you need it. Doing this makes shopping and meal prep much simpler as you won’t have to sift through all your dishes or search for ingredients when preparing a meal.
By organizing your pantry and refrigerator, you can avoid buying unnecessary items – another great way to save money on groceries. For added convenience, prepping ingredients ahead of time helps ensure the right items are always available when creating meals.
You could use a large tabbed binder or write your plans down on paper that sticks to the front of your fridge. Be creative with how you write each week so that it sticks in different places so that you never forget what needs to be accomplished.
3. Make a grocery list.
Maintaining a grocery list is an effective way to stay organized and prevent impulse buys. Additionally, it ensures you don’t forget any essential ingredients for meals either.
Make a grocery list by first taking stock of what items are in your fridge, freezer and pantry. Make note of what you have and check its use-by date so that you can plan meals around what’s available and stock up when needed.
Once you’ve done this, create your list with each item categorized according to its location in your home. This could be as straightforward as placing it in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer; alternatively, sort items by type (like produce, breads, meats and snacks) before including those headings on your list.
Next, identify which foods you tend to buy more frequently than others. For instance, perhaps you stock up on breads and snacks so they’re always accessible for easy breakfasts or mid-day treats.
You might want to include some “spare” options for each category so you don’t run out of an essential ingredient for a recipe. Bulk purchases of staple items like rice or pasta are better than picking them up individually each week.
Keep your shopping list concise and to the point, so it doesn’t take too long to jot down all of your weekly grocery needs and head out the door. Additionally, keep it as flexible as possible so that you can add items onto the list as needed.
Once you have your list, take a trip to your local market and stock up on items for the week – including any deals that may be happening. Doing this can save money and reduce trips to the store – especially helpful if you’re on a budget!
When shopping for a larger family or group of individuals, creating a shared list is beneficial. Doing this allows everyone to contribute towards the cost of shopping and ensure everyone gets what they need without making multiple trips to the supermarket.
Shopping for groceries is the ideal way to ensure you have everything needed to create nutritious meals at home. Even if you’re on a tight budget, there are still ways to save money while still stocking your fridge and pantry with fresh ingredients. One of the most efficient strategies is to shop regularly at warehouse or discount grocery stores. They typically carry a wide selection of traditional supermarket staples as well as gluten-free pasta, bread, and cookies – making it easier to stock your freezer for meal prep sessions ahead. Alternatively, you could sign up for an online grocery delivery service which will deliver a carefully curated list of products right to your door.