Meal planning may seem like the hottest new trend in family management but in reality, meal planning is a basic and essential part family management. Not only does meal planning help families solve the “what’s for dinner” conundrum, knowing what your family will eat before you shop, buy and cook helps:
- Families to save money
- To teach and encourages healthy eating
- To make eating healthy an easy thing to do
- To encourage teamwork and communication
- To limit the amount of food wasted (see also: saves money)
- Make a menu. The first and arguably most important step is to write down your plan and post it somewhere visible and easily accessible such as the refrigerator, or use an app. Try the Angel Harvey Family Health meal planner and grocery list to get started. Write down what you want to eat and when then shop only according to your list.
To download the Spanish version of this tool, click here.
- Start with what you have. Take a thorough inventory of what you have in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry-in that order. Find the foods that will expire first and either,
- Add them to your favorite meal, or
- Find a fun new recipe to use
For example, if you have produce that is starting to wilt and leftover rice, you can make a tasty stir-fry! Just add a protein for a complete meal.
- Take requests. Ask the people in your household what they would like to eat. You might be pleasantly surprised by the response you get.
- Shop sales. Use the sales ad to your local grocer to find bargains on ingredients. Often, those very grocer ads will have a meal idea or recipe for the items on sale. Similarly, the packages of many foods have recipe ideas printed on them. This step is not only a great way to save money but also a wonderful opportunity to try something new!
- Rely on the power of leftovers. Using leftovers will be the mightiest weapon in your meal-plan arsenal. Leftover meatloaf can easily become meatballs and spaghetti, taco meat or a burger. Use pre-cooked beans in a quesadilla, Tex-Mex inspired eggs, or a meatless meal. Toss wilted spinach into a blender with avocado, banana and nut milk for a tasty smoothie. Most powerful of all: turn your leftovers into a Friday or Saturday night buffet of “finish your favorite”. No cooking, no planning, no hassle.