With many people on the go and leading busy lives, meal planning has gained popularity. It can help you save money, eat healthier, and save time.
But what happens if meal planning seems more like a hassle? Here are a few tips and tricks to make meal planning easier and more effective.
If you have recipes that you could eat all of the time, save them on your phone, computer, or even on sites like Pinterest. That way, if you are feeling uninspired while meal planning, you can take a quick peek at your list.
If you want to stay super organized and make meal planning easier, you can organize your recipes by type (breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc.). Try to keep these meals simple and easy prep.
If you are saving your recipes via places like Evernote or your phone, remember to link the recipe or jot down the ingredients needed, especially if the recipe has more than five ingredients. This will keep you from searching for the recipe every time you want to use it.
Make Meal Planning Easier With Themes
To keep yourself from staring at your calendar every time you have to plan your meals, create a weekly theme.
For example, you could make soup on Mondays, pasta on Tuesdays, and so on. Not only will this make your meal planning easier, but it will also keep you from getting bored by eating the same meals over and over.
Make A List
When you are trying to streamline your meal planning, it's important to stick to a list. It shouldn't take long to create a shopping and meal list for the week (or however often you shop).
When you are trying to make meal planning easier, a list will keep you on task and make sure you aren't buying items just because you like the look of them. Also, making a list allows you to see what you have in your pantry/fridge, which could cut down on food waste.
If you don't want to be overwhelmed when shopping and meal planning, try shopping on the same day and time every week. For example, I shop every Wednesday morning, because the stores are never busy and I have enough free time on Wednesdays to keep me from feeling overwhelmed.
It's also smart to check ads and sales before you go. Making meal planning easier isn't all about saving time, but saving money as well. Checking ads can help you plan your meals around more local and inexpensive items, which will bring your grocery bill down and give you a little more wiggle room in your budget.
Once you've gotten all of your food items, it's time to prep your food for the week. Since you've already made a list of your meals, all you have to do is decide how to arrange your prep time to be as efficient as possible.
If you bought meat, it's best to start prepping that first, as it may need to marinate or cook longer than fruits and veggies. Cooking this way ensures that everything is complete around the same time and that you aren't running around more than you should be.
Another way to make meal prepping easier is to just prep the components of your meals vs. the whole meal itself. If you know that most of your meals require chicken, go ahead and bake all of it and shred, dice, or keep it whole based on the recipe. You could also pre-chop your veggies, separate your yogurt into different containers, and get your snacks together in their baggies.
While it may take you a few hours your first-time meal prepping, with a little practice and planning ahead, you should be able to keep your prep time under two hours for the whole week.
Meal planning doesn't have to be difficult or long. In fact, meal planning can become a fun and easy way to be healthier, save some cash, and reduce your stress.