Meal planning is a great way to simplify your life and boost nutrition. Taking the time to plan ahead can save you both money and stress, allowing every member of the family enjoy healthier meals throughout the week.
10 Steps for Meal Planning Success
Decide your meal planning style
Meal planning is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, and with so many approaches to choose from there's sure to be one that fits your needs. From weekly grocery list organization through pre-portioned out meal prep containers, creating the perfect routine requires only finding what works best for you! Don't forget - however much (or little!) preparation you do in advance can make all the difference when it comes time for dinner every day.
Stock up on pantry and fridge staples
Healthy eating and cooking from home doesn't have to be intimidating - simply stock your pantry with basic ingredients! This initial investment may seem large, but having these essentials on-hand makes meal planning a breeze. So what are you waiting for? Get prepping; delicious meals await.
Equip your kitchen
Ensure your meal prep success by investing in high-quality kitchen essentials. Don't let the lack of equipment deprive you from great home cooked meals.
Schedule a planning and shopping day
Meal planning can be a tricky task to fit into our hectic lives, but by keeping it consistent you'll make sure your weekly routine runs smoothly. When possible, plan for the week ahead on Saturday and do any necessary shopping that same weekend - Sunday is perfect if you are tight on time! However, don't worry too much about discrepancies from one week to another; life happens and changes need to be taken in stride.
Evaluate your week, then plan meals accordingly
It's time to get started! Start meal planning by taking a look at the week ahead. Identify any changes in your routine, like early meetings or after-school activities that might affect when you can cook and what kind of meals are most convenient. For example, if you have a late evening out planned consider preparing something easy with minimal prep - perhaps use a crockpot for dinner so it’s ready whenever everyone arrives home hungry.
Decide which meals you want to cook
Meal planning doesn't have to be a daunting task - it can look different for everyone. Consider your lifestyle and schedule when deciding how many meals you will cook, eat out or turn to convenience options each week. For those looking to save time in the kitchen yet still put nourishing food on their plate, focusing energy around dinners with leftovers easily transforming into lunches is one strategy! Packing lunch? Try sandwiches, wraps, salads or grain bowls full of fresh produce for an easy option that won’t break the bank nor take too much preparation either. When breakfast rolls around – no need worry about complicated recipes; just toast some whole grains topped off with peanut butter and fruit like berries or bananas... And voila!
Select your recipes
Meal planning can be a great way to save time and money while enjoying delicious, nutritious meals. To start off strong - take stock of any perishables in the fridge or freezer before diving into recipes! Once you know what ingredients are available, it's time to search for some ideas which rely on either traditional recipes that follow step-by-step instructions or your own cooking creativity by creating something based off instinct alone. Don't forget about side dishes; roasted veggies as well as salads never fail to make an easy yet tasty addition. Finally, remember to switch up flavors between different cuisines each week – both staples from home plus new proteins - so there’s always variety when putting together meal plans.
Make your grocery list and shop
Having a plan of attack before you head to the grocery store can save time and stress! Make sure that your ingredients list is organized in order of aisle at the supermarket. This way, you won't miss anything or have to backtrack while shopping. Additionally, assess which components will take longer or require more preparation on your end - such as cutting cauliflower florets instead of buying them pre-cut - and weigh those decisions against how much extra free time they might provide once dinner comes around. Finally, don’t forget to double check what ingredients are already stocked up in the pantry or fridge; this small step can make all the difference for an efficient grocery run.
Prep on Sunday (or whatever day you choose)
Even if you lead a busy lifestyle, meal prepping on Sundays can be the ideal way to stay organized and prepared for the week ahead. You know best how much time is right for your own situation – it could just involve some simple prep work such as chopping vegetables or portioning out snacks. Larger batches of beans may also require some extra effort, while those wanting an even more comprehensive plan might opt to prepare all meals in advance - making sure they take shelf life into account.
Follow your plan, but remain flexible
Despite all the effort put into crafting a meal plan, unexpected events can arise or days when you lack energy to follow through. Have no fear - having some recipes in your back pocket is an easy way to stay on track. Master simple pantry staples like baked tostadas and Instant Pot curry, as well as basic culinary techniques (like those offered in our Knife Skills 101 course) if needed for quick meals without fussing over instructions.