Planning meals for yourself or for your family can be overwhelming for many. After all, if you struggle with figuring out what to eat for lunch, how are you going to get it right for an entire week worth of food. The benefits to your wallet and your overall health can be huge, though. We’ve pulled together a few tips to help you get started (or continue) your meal planning journey.
Know Where You’re Starting
If you’re often buying individual meals or small batches of ingredients at a time, you might experience some sticker shock with a single big grocery haul for the week. Go through your bank statements and add up how much you spent on food in the last month.
Commit for at Least a Few Weeks
Look, you might not nail it right out of the gate. In fact, you probably won’t. Don’t let an early failure stop you from keeping at it.
Pull Out Your Calendar
Planning a home-cooked meal on a night when you’re actually going to need to be out and about isn’t going to work. Plus, it may make you feel guilty about the wasted ingredients.
Be Ready to Freeze Meats
If you do make recipes with meat in them, this is often the most stressful part of your recipes for the week. Make sure you do the math on sell by dates and get ready to chuck something in the freezer if your week doesn’t go as planned.
Consider the Leftovers Question
Some people hate leftovers, some people love them. Determine which camp you fall into and plan accordingly. Make sure you have a backup for the week in case you eat more than planned one night and end up with no lunch leftovers the next day.
Not Everything Requires a Recipe
Just because you’re meal planning doesn’t mean you need to be making extravagant recipes each time. Maybe one night is just burgers on the BBQ.
Save Your Recipes
When you’re building your meal plan for the week, it’s common to hit up good old Google for ideas. If you come across something you like, make sure you bookmark it. That way you know you’ve matched the right recipe to the ingredients you buy.
Overlap Perishable Ingredients
Produce is a big one here. It’s often sold in big bundles or bunches and the recipe almost never asks for the whole thing. Lettuce can be used in a salad and then as a topping for veggie burgers or BLTs later in the week, for example.
Plan What You Can Stick To
You may not be able to revolutionize everything about your food overnight. That may mean only planning to cook at home 5 nights a week instead of seven for right now.
Don’t Forget All the Meals
This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and even dessert. If you’re trying to eat healthier, buying no sweets may work for you. Or it may mean a late night trip to a Ben & Jerry’s.