Meal planning is an invaluable skill that can help reduce meal stress, achieve your ideal weight, save money and decrease food waste. Start here to master meal planning like an expert!
Create a list of dinner dishes your family enjoys eating, from those already in your repertoire to quick and simple recipes like stir fries and bowls that require only heating up ingredients and adding protein.
1. Plan Ahead
Perform an inventory of your pantry, fridge and freezer to assess what food is already there and to maximize food usage before its shelf life expires – this helps avoid wasteful expenditure on groceries while saving money in the process.
Set aside time on the weekend to carefully plan out your meals for the upcoming week. You can keep this as simple or complex as necessary, but having an idea of your weekly activities and planning meals that are realistic will make the task simpler.
Some people prefer to prepare and cook ahead, making meal times much simpler and relieving stress associated with choosing what to eat on hectic nights. You could even plan themed dinners, like “leftovers night”, to ensure any leftovers don’t spoil before being repurposed again.
2. Get Organized
Meal planning can be an arduous task, but once you find an approach that suits your lifestyle it will become much simpler to stick with.
Establish a day to meal plan and grocery shop (for instance Friday or Saturday). By making it a part of your weekly routine, keeping to your meal plans should become much simpler.
Before heading out shopping, take a peek inside your fridge and freezer to assess what items may already exist – this can help ensure you do not purchase things that will go bad before they can be used. Be sure to label containers of food with their names as well as dates in order to quickly locate meals from within your pantry or freezer.
3. Make a List
Meal planning resources online offer many downloadable templates you can use to craft your weekly menu plans. Be sure to set aside a specific day and time each week to meal plan, grocery shop and prep. It should become part of your routine.
Start by compiling a list of your family’s favourite dinner ideas – ones you know how to prepare, are proven family pleasers and often have ingredients on hand for.
Add quick/easy dinner options that you can prepare quickly when time is limited or when feeling under the weather. After filling in your sides and planning how you’ll use leftovers for lunches, this will help prevent overbuying groceries that will go to waste and minimize food waste.
4. Make a Grocery List
An effective meal planning requires having an organized grocery list. Without one, it’s easy to forget items or make impulse buys without even realizing it!
Avoid spending unnecessary funds on duplicate ingredients by opting for multifunctional foods that can serve multiple meals at the same time – for instance, rotisserie chicken can be used in salads, baked potatoes and quesadillas!
Save yourself both time and energy by organizing your list by aisle-type. This will make shopping more efficient, and ensure no items slip through the cracks. Alternatively, install the Shortcut we discussed previously which will automatically create your grocery list from Notes app – simply follow its prompts to start.
5. Make a Meal Plan
Meal planning takes on different forms for everyone, and it is perfectly acceptable to tailor it to fit your lifestyle and preferences. But regardless of your meal planning style, there are some universal tips that can make the process simpler.
Create a list of all of the food items you require (snacks, ingredients for meals, etc). Doing this increases the odds that you will purchase only what’s necessary while helping prevent food waste – less likely to buy extra products that go bad before you can cook with them! Additionally, note any dates on food in your freezer or fridge to keep track of when it was last consumed (Turoff suggests labeling containers to further facilitate tracking).