Healthy meal planning is the way to go if you want to eat well and save money.
Not only do you know what to eat each day, but you only need to go to the store once to get all of your supplies! The less you go to the store, the less you buy. Hence, the more money you save.
No more looking in the fridge, wondering what you’re going to feed yourself (and maybe your family) each night. By setting aside a little time to plan and shop, you’ll feel prepared with one less thing to worry about for the week.
If you’ve never meal planned for the entire week before, here’s how to get started.
Healthy Meal Planning – A Few Tips
Meal planning is incredibly helpful for keeping you healthy, but it requires organization and forethought. You must take the time to sit down and write out what you want to make, then take a look at your kitchen stores to see what you need to buy. Unless you’ve got an incredible memory (please tell me your secret) it’s hard to do when you’re standing in the grocery store.
Here’s a few tips to help your meal planning become a success.
Look at your schedule
This is what makes your life easier for meal planning. Do you eat dinner in most nights except for Wednesday? Do you need to bring snacks to your kids baseball game on Monday? Take these things in to account when you’re thinking about meal planning.
Write out what engagements you have in your calendar so that it’s easy to see visually. Pick simple recipes for nights when you know you’ll be tired or have less time. If Thursdays are hectic at work, the last thing you’ll want to do is spend an hour preparing dinner that night.
If you like to try new recipes, keep it to one or two new ones a week. Sticking with some old stand-bys will help you make dinner faster than if you were to try new ones each night. And the less effort meal planning requires, the more likely you’ll stick with it.
It’s always helpful to look at your spices, cheeses, and oils to make sure that you don’t need anything new for your recipe. Expensive items like red wine vinegar, coconut oil, saffron, or vanilla beans might taste great in a meal, but they aren’t cheap.
Plan for leftovers
Some families don’t like leftovers. For me and a few others I know, they’re the best thing since sliced bread. Making extra leftovers that can be repurposed in a variety of ways not only saves you time and money, it helps you eat healthy without the effort.
For example – my husband and I love pulled pork. And after having pulled pork sandwiches for dinner, I use the leftovers in my eggs for breakfast or over a salad for lunch. I’ve made pulled pork tacos, pulled pork nachos, and pulled pork rice bowls. You can do a ton of things with cooked meat, even if it’s well seasoned.
You see, cooking protein is what usually takes the longest when you’re preparing for a meal. So by removing that step, you can have delicious, filling meals ready in 5 minutes. This is a prime example of meal planning on a budget for the win!
Not to mention that leftovers save you money. Think scale. The more meals you make, the more ingredients you have to buy. Making enough for leftovers only uses incrementally more than if you didn’t plan for them!
Now that you know the basics, let’s take it step by step.
Healthy Meal Planning – Steps to Begin
1. Start off by writing out your engagements
2. Decide what you’d like to make for dinner and write it down
3. Think about where you can fill in the gaps with lunch and breakfast
Need ideas? Here’s a few:
- Pulled Pork
- Mexican Crockpot Chicken Tacos
- Chipotle Lime Fish
- Sweet Potato Black Bean Chicken Chili
- Healthy Mole Enchiladas
- Crockpot Beer Chicken
4. Decide on 1-2 snacks that you can use for the whole week.
Need more ideas? Here ya go:
- Healthy & Low Calorie Coconut Macaroons
- Avocado Coconut Green Smoothie
- Healthy Chocolate Chip Blondies
- High Protein Strawberry Lemonade Smoothie
- Dark Chocolate Protein Bites
- Oatmeal Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
5. Write down the shopping list. Make sure to take stock of your pantry and fridge to note any other needed items.
- Washing and chopping all of your vegetables once you get home from the store
- Using coupons and sales to plan your meals
- Prepping meals and snacks before the week starts
Do you meal plan? Have any tips to share?