Planning meals in advance can help save you time and money. With a plan in place, meal prep is easier and you’ll be less likely to make impulsive food decisions. Set your plan for days, weeks or even a month in advance, depending on which best fits the needs of your family.
Here are some tips to help you stay on track.
Before Hitting the Store:
- Determine how many meals you need for the week. If you think you’ll have leftovers, be sure to add them to the plan. That’s one less meal you’ll have to prepare for.
- Take stock of what you have in the fridge and pantry. This will keep you from purchasing items you don’t need, and may inspire new meal ideas.
- See what’s on sale. Check store circulars for special deals. Consider which ingredients are in season. They’ll generally save you money AND taste better.
- Create a calendar. Determine what you’ll eat each night and stick to it. Have a late meeting? Schedule a quick and easy dinner. Dreary and rainy? It may be a good night for soup.
- Set a budget and stick to it. Have an idea of how much you want to spend in mind before you walk into the grocery store. The budget will limit impulse purchases and keep you focused on the plan.
Once At the Store:
- Store your food. Make sure you’ve stocked up on food storage containers and plastic zipper bags to ensure that your food stays fresh.
- Consider farmer’s markets. The ingredients will be fresh and many times cheaper than the grocery store. Plus you’ll be supporting your local businesses.
After Visiting the Store:
- Prep ahead. Have fresh ingredients? Chop and prepare them as soon as you get back from the store. They’ll be ready to go when you need them. You can also freeze certain ingredients.
- Post your menu plan. The fridge or family bulletin boards are always good options.
Meal planning may seem daunting, but in the end it can save you a lot of time and money and keep you focused on consuming healthy foods.