I’ve been meal planning for several years now.
It has saved me a noticeable amount of time and money.
I’ve seen my monthly savings go up in that time, and my free time has also increased. Allowing me to participate more in the activities that I love.
The tips listed below have helped me reach my personal and financial goals; I hope that you find them just as useful as I have.
The inspiration behind my planning came in 2016 when I happen to find 21 Meal Prep Pics from the Healthiest People on Instagram, specifically Floordeboor’s Instagram feed. After finding this, I was hooked on meal planning and prepping ahead.
Not Meal Planning vs Meal Planning
Benefits of Meal Planning
- Meals are easy to make which reduces the chance of ordering take-out food
- Reduces your trips to the grocery store leading to less impulse buying
- Saves time through bulk prep work (i.e.: pre-cutting and/or cooking ingredients)
- Eating what you’ve bought and planned promotes healthy eating
The Downside to Not Meal Planning
- Higher chance of ordering take-out food
- More stops at the grocery store and more impulse buying
- Takes more time to do a fresh meal every night
- A higher difficulty of maintaining a balanced diet
Tip 1: Plan, plan, and plan…
Planning your week or your month is key to food preparation and if you have a budget that you follow, this will help in that area as well!
Grab your FREE Printable Weekly Meal Planner below. I’ve even modified the grocery list for omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans! As well as, if you prefer to start your week on Mondays or Sundays.
Or if you prefer online base: Plan To Eat is my favorite Meal Planner Website I have found, I highly recommend it! They have a FREE 30 day trial, the full version is only $4.95 a month or $39 a year.
Most flyers in my area start on Thursdays, where I’ll proceed at researching on the flipp app. I’ll modify my meal plan for the following week by accommodating for what’s on sale, or in season. This allows for variety week to week and can lead to an adventurous foray into a whole new world of taste experiences.
Pinterest is my go-to site to plan my meals, where I can see examples of what I can make using the ingredients found in the weekly grocery flyers. I have begun to accumulate a handful of recipes that has allowed for a lot of variety in my weekly planning.
Tip 2: Make your grocery list
Now that you have your plan, it’s time to see what you already have in the kitchen and take note of what ingredients you don’t have. I like to write my grocery list as if I was going with the flow of the grocery store. Typically produce comes first, then deli and cheese, meat and seafood, grocery, dairy, and eggs with frozen foods rounding out the list. I take note of what ingredients I require. Either on paper or on my phone, then go to my kitchen to see what I already have and create my grocery list.
Tip 3: Wash and pre-cut your vegetables
Once you’re back from grocery shopping, take a break, have lunch. Now it’s time to start washing and cutting your vegetables. I like to make vegetable containers for my week which usually include, bell pepper, mushroom, onions, and either broccoli or cauliflower. If the celery is looking good and is low in price, I’ll wash and cut that and place it in a container filled with water. During the week if I’m hungry when I get home, I have celery and peanut butter to tide me over until dinner. I’ll even prep a container of green peppers, which is easy to add to most meals I make. Cucumber, tomato, and avocado are some of the vegetables that I prepare on the spot. I don’t find they store all that well for long periods of time.
Tip 4: Cook up some of your starches
As you’re washing and cutting your vegetables, put a pot of quinoa and a pot of rice on. Cooking your starch ahead of time will make it easier later in the week when you get home tired from your long day at work. I always have on hand cans of Black Beans, Chickpeas and lentils that need little or no prep work.
Tip 5: Create Big meals to have Leftovers
We’re only 2 in our apartment, and most recipes are made for 4+ servings. This is perfect for us because we get leftovers to bring to work the next day! If you have more family members, you can simply double or triple the recipe in order to have leftovers. Sometimes if we really like the recipe and I’ve done it before, I’ll even double or triple the recipe in order to have more of the same leftover for our lunches. My favorite big batch meal lately is Budget Bytes Italian Wonderpot. It’s almost too easy to make, is very tasty and makes extra servings for easy lunches later in the week.
By using these tips you’ll save time and money by:
- Doing most of your food prep in 1 day
- Going to the grocery store less throughout the week
- Coming home to a half prepared meal which you can quickly make
What other tips would you recommend to save time and money during the week for meal planning?