Meal planning is a challenge most people experience in their daily lives. While meal planning seems like a chore and difficult to learn, doing it right can be beneficial. Weekly meal planning enables you to manage your time better while helping you control your portion sizes, especially if you want to lose weight. Planning your meals also helps reduce food waste and last-minute cooking stress, saves money, prevents unhealthy food options, and lets you enjoy more variety. Here are nine meal planning tips to make your life easier.
1. Leverage meal kit delivery services
Meal kits delivery services give you access to multiple serving sizes and meal plans. The meal kit delivery service provider delivers select ingredient amounts for you to prepare your meals at home. With a meal kit delivery service, you can choose the number of weekly meals to receive.
Some meal kits, such as the ramen kit from this site, provide pre-made foods instead of ingredients, coming in handy for those who don’t want to cook. A meal kit delivery service makes it easier to stick to a healthy lifestyle while conveniently delivering ready-to-eat food or fresh ingredients. This helps you avoid the many grocery store trips and eases meal planning.
2. Maintain simplicity
There are many meal planning techniques, including bi-weekly rotations, classic weekly approaches, monthly plans, and thematic systems. If you’re new to meal planning, long-term plans can be challenging. Consider starting with the simple ones like a weekly meal plan or find some recipes to use in the week. This boosts your success chances and motivates you to try complex plans, one at a time.
If you go for a weekly meal plan, consider how many meals you need for that period, check what you already have and confirm the expiry dates, add some of your favorites, use leftovers, cook in bulk, and pick recipes that require similar primary ingredients like chicken sandwiches, stir fry chicken, and roast chicken.
3. Involve family members
Meal planning can be fun and rewarding, especially with family members. Besides allowing you to teach your kids lifelong skills, involving your family in meal planning ensures that everyone chips in, and you may also commit to delegating, simplifying the process. If you’re the household’s primary chef and grocery shopper, including others may seem difficult. However, you can easily find your way around it. Consider taking turns picking your favorite recipes or cuisines to try in a particular week.
You can include something each individual prefers in every meal. Alternatively, consider rotating everyone’s favorite. Involving your family in meal planning could also mean passing the grocery shopping responsibility to somebody else. If getting the family involved and trying new recipes simultaneously seems daunting, go for your to-go recipes in the beginning. If there are preferred family recipes you can try every week, then do so.
4. Select the key ingredients
Picking one or more key ingredients when meal planning enables you to select overlapping recipes. The ingredients could be:
- Availability: Check your pantry for the ingredients you wish to use. For instance, if you have lentils that you’ve had for a while, consider making them your meal plan’s key ingredient
- What is in season: In-season foods are usually more nutritious and affordable than out-of-season ones. Use them to motivate your meal plan
- A protein source: If you feel like having salmon to capitalize on the omega-3 fats, find multiple recipes that go well with it
5. Be ready with recipes
When loved ones are served their favorite foods, meals become more enjoyable, and waste is avoided. Most people depend on a core of around ten preferred recipes for family foods. They should be tasty, nutritious, easy to prepare, and quick to cook. Gather several affordable recipes for the primary dishes, stews, and soups, and rotate and serve them regularly. If you’re starved for time, pick recipes that need little active time, such as no-cook meals, 30-minute recipes, and slow cooker meals. If you don’t want to feed leftovers, cut back on large recipes to prepare fewer servings.
6. Leverage a meal planning tool
A meal planning tool is software that allows you to plan healthy meals. Some meal planning tools have a recipe feature where you can enter your ingredients to get corresponding recipes or pick the recipes from pre-filled databases. Additionally, the software can assist you to compile a grocery list geared toward a healthy lifestyle.
Meal planning tools can also help you minimize grocery expenses using the cost analysis and budgeting feature. This feature lets you see how much you’re spending on grocery shopping yearly and offers alternatives to reduce your food bills while making the most of the nutritious meals you eat.
7. Prepare a meal schedule
Preparing a meal schedule involves determining what you’ll eat for every meal such as primary dishes, desserts, and side dishes. You can plan meatless meals and other family recipes. When planning this schedule, you get to know the number of meals to include and how you’ll serve them. Choose breakfast, dinner, and lunch recipes and prepare a list of everything you’ll need from the grocery store. Planning your meals on your calendar enables you to see any upcoming late nights or busy days when you might not have cooking time to prepare your meals ahead of time or consider a meal kit delivery service.
8. Go grocery shopping
Looking at what you have in your pantry, prepare a grocery shopping list based on what you have and need for the week or month. Remember what you require for your planned recipes. Add weekly or daily staples like milk and more. You can arrange your list as per the store sections for quick shopping and to reduce the possibility of forgetting something.
9. Prep your meals
Once you get all the items you need to cook your food, take some time to prep your meals for easy cooking during the week. This will save time, help you manage your portions better, and reduce food preparation stress.
Meal planning might seem daunting at first, but with consistency and practice, it becomes easier. Consider using these meal planning tips to make your life easier.