Has the global pandemic left you with more time on your hands or are you just as busy as usual with work and family? Either way, planning and cooking your meals can help you eat more delicious food, improve your diet, and save you time and money. Ready to learn more about building your meal plan? Let’s jump in.
Benefits of a Meal Plan
A well-organized meal plan has numerous benefits. It can help you eat more delicious, nutrient-rich, well-balanced meals, help you lose weight, reduce food waste, and save you money.
When you plan your meals in advance, you’re less likely to make unhealthy food choices or make a drive-through pit stop when you’re rushed. The best part? Making a meal plan for yourself or your family is easier than you think. Here are some simple meal plan tips to get you started.
Create Your Meal Plan Step-by-Step
Organization is essential to successful meal planning. Once you’ve mastered the basics, the rest is a breeze.
Check Your Refrigerator
See what ingredients you have on hand, and keep those in mind when you’re browsing recipes. If you use the groceries you have, it will help keep your grocery bill down.
Choose Your Recipes
Decide what you want to make for the week. Scour the internet, check out the list of recipes we’ve compiled or break out your favorite cookbooks. Did you see a fantastic ingredient on sale at the supermarket? Terrific, look for recipes that use it. If you need a family meal plan, get the rest of the household involved – but make sure to keep a good balance of healthy, nutritious meals in your game plan.
Stick to Your List
Jot down the ingredients you’ll need for the recipes you chose. If you write a list before you shop, you’re less likely to forget an item (we’ve all been there), and you’ll stay focused on the essentials. Also, keep a running list and note items as they run out. One study showed making a list can lead to healthier dietary decisions.
When you stick to your list, you’ll be less likely to fill your shopping cart with items you don’t need, which saves you money and may help you steer clear of junk foods.
Meal Prep On Your Light Days
It’s best to cook your weekly meals when you have plenty of free time so you don’t feel rushed. Then, you can pop them in the fridge or freezer, and simply reheat and eat them on your busy days. If you don’t have time to whip up an entire week’s worth of meals, you can give yourself a head start; chop veggies, make sauces or marinades, and dice garlic or herbs, then stash them in the fridge for later use.
You can also pick up frozen veggies to keep in your freezer. If you have a few bags of frozen vegetables, it can save you time and money and ensure you’re never without nutritious whole foods you can cook on the fly.
Now that you’ve got the basics, here are a few extra tidbits.
Don’t Forget Your Leftovers
When you use your leftovers, it’s a wonderful way to reduce food waste. Make a note on your leftovers when you stash them in the fridge so you remember to use them before they spoil. And keep them at the front so you’ll see them whenever you open the door. Leftovers have a shelf life of about three days in the fridge or a month in the freezer.
Say No To Niche Ingredients
Experimenting with new meals is fun, but be mindful when testing out recipes that require unique ingredients which can’t be used in other dishes. Playing around with new flavors helps keep your meals interesting, tasty, and a joy to make. Plus, it has additional health benefits.
If there’s a unique ingredient you’re dying to test out, pick out several recipes that require it. Exotic ingredients can be expensive. But, if you choose multiple recipes that use it, you won’t end up wasting the rest.
Big Batches Win
Make larger batches that you can freeze and enjoy later. This route is especially good if you find yourself short on time or need healthy options for your kids to reheat. You can double up on recipes or use leftovers to make soups, veggie bakes, stews – the list goes on.
With these incredibly easy hacks, you can make cooking healthy meals ultra-efficient and cost-effective, and cut back on your overall food waste. But remember, it can be a joy to cook and eat delicious food. So don’t forget about the pleasure flavorful, healthy food can bring.
Meal planning is an excellent way to help you eat better food, and reach your weight loss goals. And it’s kinder to your wallet.
Plan your week with our Meal Planner – doing so will save your time and help you escape cooking fatigue.