Meal planning can be a challenge for many people. Do you start to think about dinner when it’s time to eat? By then, you don’t have any food on hand and don’t have time to go to the grocery store. Meal planning is a hurdle that you can tackle by planning in advance and sticking to a schedule.
I cook most nights for my husband and me. I’m a Lifetime Weight Watchers member so eating healthy is important to maintaining my goal weight. I also work full time and have many commitments outside of my work life. Below is my strategy for planning ahead so I have what I need on hand to cook a healthy meal when I get home.
1. Compile an inventory of go-to recipes. These should be recipes that the whole family likes, take dietary restrictions into account and will be quick to prepare. There are hundreds of recipe websites and apps. I like to print recipes from the Food Network after I’ve seen it prepared on TV. Also look through your cook books periodically to “rediscover” favorites that you haven’t cooked for awhile. Finally store your inventory where it will be handy when it’s time to cook dinner. A small binder or a photo box are great choices for printouts.
2. Make a grocery list every time you go shopping. Review your recipe inventory and decide which meals you plan to cook in the coming week. Add ingredients that you don’t have on hand to your grocery list. I use a great app called “Shopper” to manage my grocery list.
3. Plan which meal you’ll cook each night. Write this down in a calendar or white board if it will help you stay on track. When you get home from the store, freeze meat or fish that you don’t plan to cook until later in the week. Add reminder to your smartphone or calendar so you don’t forget to defrost items midweek.
Planning in advance will help you manage your time more effectively. You won’t scramble every night to figure out what to eat for dinner. You won’t make multiple trips to the grocery store during the week to buy ingredients. As an added benefit, you will eat healthier and save money because you’ll rely on packaged foods and take out less.
Ellen Miano is Professional Organizer in Foxboro MA. For more information see her website at http://www.OrganizingMA.com or contact her directly at 508.641.0521.