Meal planning is a critical part of healthy eating, and it's also one of the most important habits you can develop as a cook. The key to start meal planning for success is finding ways to make this essential task easier for yourself--and that's what we're here to do! When done well, it helps you save time and money on food, stay within budget and stick to your healthy eating plan, all while ensuring that your family eats delicious meals each week.
Set yourself up for success, but be realistic about what that looks like for you.
If you want to start meal planning, it's important to know your schedule and available time. The last thing you need is to plan out something that will take hours of work with no end result. Be realistic about what you can do, and write down your goals for the week or month. From there, make a plan for how those goals will get accomplished!
After you have set yourself up for success by being realistic about what that looks like for you, it's time to make sure you have the right tools for this job. Buy an agenda book or calendar that has plenty of room so that as soon as inspiration hits, there is plenty of space left over to jot down notes without having them overlap previous entries (or worse yet be lost under them).
Don't reinvent the wheel.
Don't reinvent the wheel. If you're not a professional chef and don't want to be one, don't try to reinvent your meals. Use recipes and cookbooks for inspiration; they're designed with specific goals in mind, like flavor, ease of preparation and presentation.
Ask for help. Sometimes it can feel like there's no substitute for experience when cooking something new or unfamiliar—but there is! Asking someone else who knows how can save you time and make sure that your dish turns out exactly as intended (or better).
Save leftovers! Leftovers are great because they can be used in later meals without additional preparation work on your part (if any). They also save money—and if you have any family members who grew up eating leftovers as part-of-the-dinner fare rather than an afterthought on their plate, they'll thank you later too
Make a plan and stick to it.
Make a list of what you need to buy.
Write down meal ideas you have and write down any recipes you want to try. A good way to do this is by creating an organized document or spreadsheet on your computer with recipes from all over the web, so that it's easy for you to access them when it comes time for meal planning.
Plan a weekly menu that features your favorite meals as well as some new ones so that there will be variety in your diet (and so that if something goes wrong with one meal, there are still other options). Your first menu plan should be simple and straightforward, focusing on staples like chicken breast or ground beef paired with vegetables like broccoli or green beans. This will help make sure everyone eats enough protein without going overboard on calories (which is easily done when eating too much meat). It also allows people who aren't used making healthy food choices feel more comfortable trying new things because they won't feel overwhelmed by having too many things vying for their attention at once--a common pitfall when trying out new recipes!
Don't forget to incorporate healthy snacks into your plan.
Don't forget to incorporate healthy snacks into your plan. This is the time to think about the snacks you and your family will be eating during the week. They should be prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge or pantry, so they're readily available when hunger strikes.
Snacks should not be too big. If you're going to have a snack, make it something small like an apple slice or a few pieces of cheese rather than a whole bag of chips!
Snacks shouldn't be too small either - they ought to be just right :)
Don't forget to plan in special occasions and celebrations.
One of the best ways to get your family involved in meal planning is to plan special occasions. Birthdays and holidays are a great time to plan fun, celebratory meals that everyone will love. You can also save money by stocking up on ingredients for these meals ahead of time; this will make it easier for you to create a variety of dishes without having to buy multiple items each time you want a new recipe.
Set aside time each week to meal plan and prepare food for the week ahead.
If you want to start meal planning, the first thing you need to do is set aside time each week to plan your meals for the week ahead. To do this, make a calendar (or an app) and plan out what meals you'll be eating over the next seven days. This can help ensure that there's enough variety in your diet, since having too much of one food (like pasta) or not enough of another (like vegetables) can affect how well-balanced it is overall.
If it's possible that some nights might get away from them and they won't have time to prepare anything beforehand, then it's also important that they plan for leftovers so they have something ready-to-eat if needed. If there isn't time during the day before work starts then consider preparing some things beforehand — like boiling eggs or making sandwiches — so that when dinner rolls around all they have left is cooking whatever else needs attention (if any).
Pick a weekday for grocery shopping or order online and have your groceries delivered or shipped to your home (depending on how much time you want to spend doing either).
Pick a weekday for grocery shopping or order online and have your groceries delivered or shipped to your home (depending on how much time you want to spend doing either). If you have time, go to the store yourself. However, if it's more convenient for you, then ordering online is an option.
Pick a meal prep day and get busy! Aim to do all of your preparation work--chopping veggies, cooking meats, preparing salads, etc.--on this day so that you don't have to worry about it the rest of the week. This can take anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on how many meals you'll be prepping for the week.
So, you’re ready to start meal planning! You know that it will be a great way to save money, eat healthier and avoid spending time in the kitchen when all you want to do is relax. But how do you actually get started? The first step is picking a day and getting busy. Aim to do all of your preparation work—chopping veggies, cooking meats, preparing salads—on this day so that you don't have to worry about it the rest of the week. This can take anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on how many meals you'll be prepping for the week.
Try batch cooking two things at once if you're short on time. If you need dinner ready in 30 minutes or less, then serving up this dish is obviously not going to cut it. But if you can cook dinner one night in an hour, then cook the same meal again the next night in 40 minutes after cleaning up from dinner, that's some precious time off your daily prep schedule!
Batch cooking is a great way to save time and money. The trick is finding recipes that work well with batch cooking. For example, this recipe for chicken stew includes instructions for making three meals at once: one cooked on the stovetop and two in the oven. If you're short on time and need dinner ready in 30 minutes or less, then serving up this dish is obviously not going to cut it. But if you can cook dinner one night in an hour, then cook the same meal again the next night in 40 minutes after cleaning up from dinner, that's some precious time off your daily prep schedule!
Batch cooking works best when there are leftovers—you can use those as ingredients for later meals—or when there are multiple steps or ingredients involved (meaning more than just boiling water). It'll probably take longer than using a recipe designed specifically for batch cooking because of how long certain steps take to complete (e.g., boiling noodles), but it's worth trying out if you're looking for ways to save time without sacrificing nutrition or flavor!
I hope this post has given you some excellent ideas for how to start meal planning, as well as some tips to keep in mind. Meal planning is absolutely worth it if you're looking to save time, money, and sanity while still eating healthy meals that fit into your busy lifestyle.