Planning meals ahead of time has a lot of benefits. You always know what’s for dinner. You generally eat more nutritiously. You also usually save money. These are 7 ways to plan your meals and stick to the plan.
1. Make a Menu
One of the first things you need to do when you’re planning your meals is to make a menu. Plan what you’re going to have each day. You can always switch things around later if you’re not in the mood for a certain meal. The point is that you have so many days worth of meals planned in advance. When you have a menu, then you’re much more likely to stick to your meal plan.
2. Do a Stock up Trip
After you have your menu, you need to make your grocery store run. The goal is to get everything you need so you don’t have to make daily trips. If you do this, you’ll save yourself money by not being at the store as often to buy as much. I do a big stock up trip every 2 weeks and then do a weekly stop for perishable groceries such as milk and fresh fruit. You may need to do your stock up trips a little differently and that’s okay.
3. Do Your Prep Work
When you get into a groove following a meal plan, you’ll notice that there are ways you could streamline your routine. Your meals can get to the table a lot quicker if you do some prep work ahead of time. This includes things like making hamburger patties and slicing and dicing veggies. You can also make snack time healthier by preparing snack bags of fresh fruits and veggies to grab. An hour or two of prep time after your grocery stock up trip makes a big difference in the amount of time you spend in the kitchen on a daily basis.
4. Double Recipes
There are some recipes that are easy to double up. It’s a good idea to do so when you can. It gives you the option of having a meal that lasts for two days or freezing the second portion to pull out when you don’t have time to cook. This also saves you from calling for take-out when your day is crazy. It’s always good to have something prepared and easy to grab from the freezer.
5. Make Things You like
You less likely to stick to your meal plan if you haven’t planned meals you like. For example, if you’ve always hated asparagus, that isn’t likely to change just because you’re trying to be more organized in your cooking. Make sure that your meal plan has meals you’ll actually eat. If your goal is eating healthier then that’s great. Even then, it’s good to just fix your favorites with a healthier spin.
6. Try New Recipes
Of course it’s also good to try new recipes. You just want to choose recipes that sound appetizing to you. New recipes are something you can get excited about. It’s fun to try new foods and find new things you enjoy. You never know, you just may stumble onto a new favorite.
7. Give Yourself Days off
People try meal planning for different reasons. They may want to be more organized, save money or eat healthier. All of those are very good reasons. It’s also good to give yourself some days off. You may choose one certain day a week to have off or just take a day off when the opportunity comes up to catch dinner with friends. Some flexibility can actually help you stick with your meal plan in the long run.