Juggling the demands of school, social life, jobs, volunteer work, etc.? Planning ahead will make it easier to eat healthy meals while also saving you money and time. The few minutes it takes to plan your meals for the coming week are well worth the effort. Keeping your kitchen stocked with the basics will make it easy to prepare a quick, energy-packed meal. Meal planning is easy when you follow these simple steps.
- Open your cupboards, refrigerator and freezer. Decide what needs to be used up soon. If you need meal ideas, look for easy, healthy recipes that use those ingredients.
- Check the online flyer for your supermarket. Including sale foods in your weekly menu saves you money. Buying seasonal or frozen fruits and vegetables and meat alternatives like beans, lentils and eggs also helps to lower your grocery bill.
- Look online if you need ideas. There are lots of resources and recipes online if you need some inspiration. Write down the shopping list for each recipe if you don’t have the ingredients on hand.
- Use the Eat Well Plate to help you to plan balanced meals. Most meals should include at least one or two servings of veggies and/or fruit, whole grains, and a meat or meat alternative. Use two servings of milk or milk alternatives like yogurt or soy milk each day. Most snacks should include foods from a least two different food groups.
- Write out a simple menu plan for the week. Eating regularly is the best way to get all the nutrients you need as well as to keep energy levels up, so most days should include 3 meals and 1 to 3 snacks. Plan to have a couple of different options that you can rotate for breakfast. It saves time to set aside an hour or two to prepare lunch or dinner foods ahead of time, making 3 or 4 servings of food at time and then reheating as needed. Freeze pre-portioned meals if you can’t use them within 3 or 4 days.
- Make a shopping list to take with you. Sticking to the list will help avoid impulse buys and will decrease your grocery bill. Shopping is easier and faster if you list things together according to where they are found in the store (produce, frozen food, etc.).
Want more ideas?
See the following resources for recipe ideas and more information: