Do you want to lose weight? Is paying less for food important? Can saving time be a help? You’ll get all those benefits when you meal plan. Planning your meals ahead, shopping and even preparing them ahead may take more time the first few weeks, but you’ll find it saves time, money and even eat better the longer you do it. You start by with the planning, which should take place Wednesday or Thursday night, so you can shop for your meals on Friday and cook over the weekend.
Start with the ads and seasonal fruits and vegetables.
You don’t have to do this step if saving money isn’t your thing, but for most people, it’s an added benefit of planning. Check the online ads to get an idea of what’s on sale and then create a menu that uses those items. If one recipe requires things that don’t keep long or freeze, such as lettuce, make sure you use it in another meal so you don’t have waste. Create the menu and the shopping list for the week.
Get all the ingredients for the week on Friday.
If you’re a stay at home parent, you don’t have to follow the scheduled days as closely. They’re primarily for the person who works outside the home. Cook your meals over the weekend, double the recipes so you have meals to freeze for future weeks. The more you continue meal planning, the more meals you’ll have in your freezer for the future. You can use those for busy weeks when you don’t have time for shopping or cooking.
Freeze ingredients you don’t use or make sure you use them for other recipes.
If you need a chicken breast for one meal, but it’s cheaper to buy a whole chicken than just the breast, buy a whole chicken and use the other parts in another meal. Some meals require fresh herbs but not nearly as much as the amount you have to purchase at one time. You can freeze those herbs in ice cube trays for future recipes. Save the bones from chicken to create a bone broth you can freeze for future meals.
- Eating healthy includes healthy snacks. You can assign the kids the task of making healthy trail mix from dried fruit and nuts and packing them in individual serving size bags.
- Clean and slice all vegetables as soon as you buy them. You can make a dip and snack on them throughout the week, but if you have any left over, make soup for the following week.
- You’ll save money and get all the nutrients possible when you use in-season fresh fruits and vegetables. You’ll be surprised at all the unique ways to use them that promote healthy eating.
- When you plan meals, you’ll be able to prepare your meals by just removing them from the freezer and reheating them. It’s even quicker than waiting in the drive through line and far healthier and tastier.