It’s Friday night after a long week and you’ve got no idea what to cook for dinner. Like about 70% of Americans, you end up making your weekly delivery food order.
Over time, those weekly delivery orders add up. How much do you spend on your weekly order?
For most households, that money would feed them for an entire day. Making a meal plan at the beginning of the week cuts back on unnecessary spending.
The key to success is careful planning. Follow these steps and you’ll be a meal planning pro in no time.
1. Gather Meal Ideas
Are you stuck in a food rut? Eating the same thing every day turns mealtime into a chore. Mix it up and try new recipes using your favorite foods.
Before you meal prep, ask your family what they want to eat. Let everyone have at least one meal they’ve picked. It takes the mental burden of constant planning off your shoulders.
Have fun with your meal ideas. Try out themed meals for each day. They don’t have to be complicated dishes like mole which has over 20 ingredients.
2. Inventory the Food in Your Home
Don’t buy more food until you know what’s in your kitchen. That can of beans you need for vegetarian chili might already be in the pantry.
There are helpful inventory sheets available online that you can print out. Update the sheet each week on meal prep day.
Tip: While you’re taking inventory, clean out the old food. Your freezer probably has at least two freezer-burned blobs hiding in it.
3. Write Down a Shopping List
There are two rules when it comes to grocery shopping. The first is: never shop hungry.
The second rule? Don’t go shopping without a list or you will spend too much.
Gather all the meal ideas and recipes you plan to make for the week. Compare the ingredients to what’s on your kitchen inventory. Whatever you don’t have, add to your shopping list.
A few shopping tips:
- If you need special ingredients, see if your usual store carries them before you head out
- Write the shopping list according to how you walk through the store
- Look for sale items when planning to make a meal around
Grocery shopping for the week with a list saves money. You’ll also have more time for other plans on grocery shopping day.
4. Make the Most of Your Cooking Time
Not every meal must be cooked from scratch at that moment. Once or twice a month, cook large batches of easy meals. Freeze the leftovers for weeks when money or time is tight.
Easy dinner ideas to make in big batches aren’t hard to find. Things like chili, marinara sauce, and shredded chicken make a variety of dishes.
Making a Meal Plan Turns a Dreaded Chore into a Fun One
Regain control over your time in the kitchen by making a meal plan. Set aside an hour or so a week to write out what you want to eat. Don’t be afraid to try new cuisines.
You can still treat the family to delivery once in a while. Turn those meals into special occasions. Have a movie night or make a living room picnic.
Looking for more insight into the food industry? Feel free to browse our articles.