Meal planning is an efficient strategy used to help prepare weekly meals in a timely manner and eliminate food waste. I have compiled a list of suggested steps to help aid you in the process of meal planning. Let’s begin!
Step 1: Inventory your pantry
The first thing you should do before meal planning is inventory your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. Checking your inventory is the key to meal planning and more importantly, saving money, and avoiding food waste. Without an inventory list, you are likely to buy duplicates or forget about food that you could have used, which is then wasted.
Here are some of the top apps for food inventory.
- Pantry Checker
- My Fridge Food Recipes
- Fridge Hero
- Fridge Food
- Fridge Tracker
- Magic Fridge
Step 2: Plan your recipes
Once you identify what you already have on hand, you can now start meal planning. What can I do with what I already have? Some of the apps include meal suggestions from the inventory list. However, if your app doesn’t include this or if you have a family favorite you can plan out your week from what you have and use recipes that you and your family like.
Here are suggestions to make meal planning easier.
- Pick recipes that you know and then add one or two new recipes a week.
- Pick recipes based on common ingredients. This will make prep time and shopping much easier.
- Only cook things that you want to eat. This sound obvious, but don’t overlook the obvious. You must want to eat it to make it.
Step 3: Make your shopping list
Now that you have your meals planned, it’s time to make your list. See what you have on hand and compare it with the ingredient list. You can save money on your needed items by looking for coupons or sales at the local grocery store. Then pick up your list and head out.
Step 4: Putting everything together
It is recommended you set aside 2 hours for putting your meals together.
- The first thing is to do all the washing, dicing, and chopping for all recipes.
- Then you want to do everything that you need to do in each pan. For example, if you cook hamburger meat in a frying pan, use that same frying pan to fry the sausage that you will need for the frittata or to make scrambled eggs. If you need to make rice and noodles, then you will use the same pot.
Try to do as much as you can with the least amount of clean up and starting over. Also, make sure that you have all the storage containers ready to go.
Step 5: Enjoy your meals
Wow! You did it. You have planned your first week of meals. It isn’t hard, but it isn’t easy. It just takes time to learn!