Meal planning can improve your health while saving you time and money. Preparing healthy meals doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive—it just takes planning. One of the hardest parts of getting a meal on the table is figuring out what exactly to have for dinner. Read on to learn how to be a meal planning pro!
Meal Planning Tips from the Pros
Sit down and plan healthy meals for the entire week, let everyone in the family make meal suggestions. Then make a shopping list and be sure to stick to it! Shopping from a list instead of waiting to make choices at the grocery store saves you both time and money.
Get inspired and try one new recipe every week or two. Look for new recipes online or in recipe books. Trying new recipes will keep you from getting in a rut. Limiting the amount of new recipes will keep menu planning from getting too complex since new recipes will take more time and effort to get on the table.
Find a recipe organizing system that works for YOU. You can save recipes on several different food websites or pin them on Pintrest. This allows you to easily browse the recipes you have saved.
Save your meal plans. I use a blank monthly calendar to plan the week’s meals. Then I record on the calendar if it was the meal was thumbs up or thumbs down. I also try to record the amount we had left over. This helps with future meal planning.
Try theme meal nights. I find it helpful to have a daily theme. Monday is chicken night, Tuesday is fish, Wednesday is pasta, etc. Keeping this focus helps narrow down my choices and will helps to make quick recipe decisions.
Choose a shopping day and a planning day. I plan meals for the week on Friday and shop on Saturday, that way too much time is not spent on meal planning on one single day. I also like to stick to the same days each week to complete these tasks. This allows me to consistently plan and shop for seven days.
Check the grocery store ads. One way save money is to plan your meals around the grocery store sales.
Cook now, eat now AND later. My favorite tip is to double recipes and freeze half for a future meal. You can get twice the food with little additional effort. Plan in these frozen meals on nights you will be short on time.
Have healthy breakfast items on hand. Offer a variety of quick and easy breakfast options like whole-grain cereal with low-fat or fat-free milk, oatmeal, or fruit to start the day.
Other Healthy Breakfast Ideas
- Low-fat yogurt topped with granola, sliced apples, or berries
- Whole-grain waffles, oatmeal, or whole-grain cereal topped with strawberries, blueberries, or bananas
- Whole-grain bread with a thin layer of peanut butter and sliced bananas
- An omelet with veggies like bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, or tomatoes