Planning out your meals for the week or even for the month can not only help save you money, it can also help save you a few extra calories. Without meal planning, you probably have one or two days where you stand in front of the refrigerator pondering what to make for dinner and ultimately coming up with the decision to either order in or hit a drive-thru. The decision to do this can put a big hit in your weekly budget, as eating out can get expensive. It's also hard to eat healthy when eating out like this as well. See below for helpful tips on how to effectively plan your meals.
Before you run out to the store, look in your pantry, cabinets and refrigerator/freezer to take stock of what you have in stock. Don't try to remember what you have on hand, write it down. Really look to see what you have, what you need, and what you are running low on and what is ready to expire.
Make A Menu
When planning your meals, be sure to write everything down in menu form. You can find printable menu forms on-line or create one yourself. List out breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals for the entire week. Then write out what you are going to need from the store for each of these meals. Writing it all out helps save you from buying extra food or junk food at the store that you don't need.
Just because you listed tacos on Tuesday doesn't mean you have to eat tacos on Tuesday. Just because you have planned meals doesn't mean you have to become a control freak. You can eat leftovers instead if this is what fits your schedule better, or eat something a little simpler if it's a busy day of the week for you. You can even swap out a breakfast for dinner if this makes things easier for you as well. Being flexible with your meals helps too if you planned something that you just don't have a taste for on that particular day. You can even ask your family which dish they would prefer for dinner.
Research Quick/Easy Meals
Look to sites like Pinterest to search for quick and easy meals if you begin to get in a rut and aren't sure what to cook for dinner. Let your family members help you search for meals that look good and have fun trying out new recipes together. Write down the meals that everyone liked best.
When meal planning, be sure to recruit the entire family for help. Remember to be flexible and write everything down in order to keep you on track. For assistance, talk to professionals like Colorado Nutrition for Health Fitness & Performance.