Meal planning helps individuals meet goals such as eating healthier or sticking to a food budget while simultaneously cutting wasteful expenditure.
Meal planning begins by taking stock of what ingredients are already available in your fridge and pantry, then creating an itemized grocery list based on available items, taking note of weekly grocery ads for discounts where applicable and using coupons when possible.
Make a Menu
An attractive menu design can make a huge impactful difference on customer orders and sales. Crafting one takes careful thought and time; considering layout, fonts, color schemes and color themes. Many restaurateurs hire designers or use menu templates as starting points; here are some tips that might help your restaurant create great menus:
Outline all of the items your restaurant will offer and then divide them up into apps, entrees, and desserts (or whatever categories make sense for your establishment). A spreadsheet or even just writing them all down on paper will make this task simpler – helping you select which dishes should go onto your menu more easily.
Calculate how many menus your restaurant requires based on how many seats it has and whether or not you plan to serve takeout orders or dine-in customers. It’s also wise to consider if disposable or durable menus will be used or whether more costly materials need to be printed onto. If unsure, estimate using average daily guests plus an extra 10-25%.
Consider seasonal produce when setting out your menu; this can save money and ensure more nutritious meals, with ingredients at their peak freshness and flavor. Plus, signing up for rewards programs at local grocery stores to take advantage of coupons or discounts can even further save money!
Employing a DIY menu template keeps the emphasis on your delicious cuisine while remaining visually appealing. Choose one from Envato Elements’ variety or create one yourself using design software such as InDesign.
For an elegant and modern DIY menu design, a grid-based layout may be best. This allows for quick organization of items and pricing information. For a more flexible solution, an ellipse shape filled with your text is also an option.
Make a Grocery List
Making an organized grocery list is one of the key components of meal planning, as it will prevent unnecessary purchases while guaranteeing you have all of the ingredients needed to create your menu. An organized list will also help prevent you from repeating certain mistakes such as forgetting milk or purchasing bananas that quickly spoil.
When creating a shopping list, there are multiple approaches available to you: from pen and paper to digital lists on smartphones or tablets. Digital lists offer convenience as they’re easily accessible any time and anywhere – plus they eliminate the risk of leaving it at home or the car (or having your handwriting look completely illegible!).
Another effective option is using an app on your phone or tablet. Many apps allow you to easily create lists and add items by voice recognition, making grocery shopping on the go simpler than ever. Plus, your list can sync up with calendar apps and help keep track of meals!
Many apps provide customizable templates, designed to meet the individual needs of their users. You may opt for one that organizes your list by aisle or food type if shopping at multiple stores; or use an app which marks items eligible for discounts in your list.
An effective tip when creating a grocery list is to include items from each category. This will diversify your groceries and ensure you have everything needed for a week of meals. Furthermore, writing down exactly how many of each item you require can prevent running out midweek or finding yourself with items you won’t use anyway.
Shared shopping lists can also be an extremely helpful tool, enabling you to check off items as they’re added, helping prevent forgetting anything or purchasing more than necessary. iPhone owners can create a shortcut directly into Reminders with just a single click here and follow its prompts; Siri can activate it just like that by saying things such as “Hey Siri, create my Grocery List from Notes,” or “Hey Siri, add mayonnaise to my Shopping List.”
Make a Prep Day
Meal planning, shopping and cooking on the weekend can make the rest of your week less hectic and save money by creating your own meals (or portions thereof) rather than resorting to takeout on hectic evenings.
Before diving in with meal prepping, take some time to map out your week and determine which meals you will prepare ahead. Be mindful of any upcoming social gatherings such as dinner meetings with coworkers or date nights with friends that could require preparations on short notice.
As you prepare your weekly menu, take note of grocery store ads and online deals to save money when buying fresh produce and meat. It can also help stock up your pantry with items you know will come in handy throughout the month such as rice, pasta, frozen veggies, sauces or spices.
On preparation day, begin with recipes that require baking in an oven or slow cooker and move onto those taking less time to complete. This gives you time to multitask: while roasting chicken in the oven you could also chop vegetables and wash and dry salad greens to prepare later this week.
Once your meals have been prepared and assembled, store them in the fridge or freezer. Be sure to label and date prepared foods so you don’t lose track of when you must use certain items by. Additionally, rotate foods within your fridge so that the oldest ingredients will be used first.
Be mindful that it can be easy to tire yourself out with meal prepping. If the same meals become tiresome every week, try switching up ingredients or adding in new flavors; even something as simple as changing salad dressings and garnishes can transform a boring roasted chicken and vegetables meal into something truly exciting!
Make a Freezer Meal
No matter if you are a busy mom, expecting a child or just saving time overall – freezer meals are one of the best investments you can make for your family! Easy to reheat when time becomes an issue during busy weeknights when making dinner is required due to extracurricular activities or work commitments, they make for quick dinner options while saving valuable time on preparation!
Start by reviewing your pantry, refrigerator and freezer to assess what ingredients you already have on hand. Use this opportunity to stock up on sale items like frozen vegetables, pasta and other staples that won’t spoil quickly.
Find recipes using ingredients already present in your kitchen to save time and money when buying in bulk, while decreasing food waste. Finding recipes you can prepare in one batch is also recommended as this will reduce preparation time while making meal creation at home even simpler.
If you’re new to meal planning, start small – for instance with two or three healthy freezer meals that can be prepared within two hours or less – this will give you confidence to explore this aspect of meal preparation in greater depth later.
When purchasing ingredients, be sure to read labels carefully and only purchase what is necessary. Avoid purchasing meat, fruits and veggies which will quickly spoil in the freezer; opt instead for items which last longer in your freezer such as quinoa salads or casseroles.
Before freezing your freezer meals, be sure to label them with their date of creation and a detailed description of what they contain – this will allow you to stay organized with them and ensure they reach your table before their expiration dates!
If you have difficulty keeping track of what is in your freezer, use a labeler to write on the lids of containers, or painters tape as it will come off without damaging anything in the container. Make sure that it remains cool and dark and rotate the recipes every six months for maximum effectiveness.