By Jessica Sanders
Planning the week of meals for your family can be a stressful and time consuming process. From getting your food storage in order to shopping for the groceries, it can seem like a daunting to take on. However, planning your meals for the week will not only save you time and money, but it also keeps you and your family eating right all week long.
Consider these 5 tips to start meal planning next week.
1. Collect Your Inspiration.
Throughout the week you find recipes in magazines, online, from girlfriends, and more. But, what do you do? You see a recipe, think, hmmm that would be good! And then move on. What you have to do, however, is start collecting these recipes – if only for inspiration when it comes to planning time.
- Online: Make a special folder on your bookmark toolbar to save all the recipes you find. If it’s easier to sit at the table with actual recipes in hand, plan to print them later.
- In print: See a recipe? Rip it out. Consider starting a folder that you keep in the kitchen, of all your recipes.
- From friends: Like a recipe at a dinner party? Get it right then and there. Whether it’s on a paper towel, napkin or the backside of a business card – grab so you’ll have it for your folder.
2. Peruse Your Coupons.
Shopping every week can get expensive. Luckily, prices go up and down, and there are new items on sale each week, so you have the opportunity to save – even it’s more one week than the other. The best way to plan your weekly meals is around the coupons you find. Enjoy your Sunday morning breakfast perusing the coupon booklets from your favorite grocery store. And remember to use your coupons wisely, however.
- Produce: Produce is on sale depending on the seasonal items they have in stock. Plan to stock up on a few fruits and veggies one week, instead of getting one of everything, so you can switch it up the next.
- Pantry items: Many people feel they can’t cook a decent meal each night of the week because they don’t have the basics. Items like olive oil, coconut oil, pasta and peanut butter can be expensive. Be sure to grab a plethora of these items when they happen to be on sale so you won’t be worrying if you have it or not.
- Coupons: Don't get the Sunday paper. No worries. There are lots of money-saving apps that you can download for free. Check out Ibotta and Swagbucks for money saving deals and coupons on groceries.
3. Shop with a Plan.
Shopping is like writing a paper or planning a party – if there is no plan, everything will go awry. Especially with shopping, surrounded by so many shelves of food, you can get off track and forget items very easily.
- Necessities: Go through your pantry, and list the basic items that you’re running out of; spices, oil, vinegar, etc.
- Recipe items: Choose the recipes you want to try, and check which items you need and which you already have so you waste no time at the store and no cash from your wallet.
- Organize your list: Whatever makes most sense to you – by type of food, isle, recipe – if it’s organized you’ll have an easier time getting everything.
4. Start Off Right.
The most important part of weekly meal planning is starting the week off right. If you don’t have all the pieces in place, it will be too easy to veer off course and just head out the door for dinner instead. When you prepare for the week, not only does it take less time to get dinner done, but the process is much less stressful.
- Prepping: Prep your veggies on Sunday. Cut everything up that you’ll need throughout the week, leaving you with one less step at night.
- Label: If it’s easier, label the items and their dinners they go with. Put together the cold items that you can now, including sauces and salads.
5. Keep To Your Plan.
The final step in meal planning is sticking with it. It’s easy to look in the kitchen and walk right back out the door. But, when you plan in advance, it makes the job of cooking for a family each night much easier and stress free. The best way to stick with your plan is to put your list up on the fridge. You can take items like meat out of the freezer in the morning, to ensure everything will be in place when you arrive home.
Jessica Sanders is a professional blogger, writing for a variety of publications about women’s health and lifestyle. She helps families stay healthy as the blogger for mygofer. Opt for grocery delivery or pick them up on your way home from work.