There is more to meal planning than cooking and freezing. There are certain things you can do before you start meal planning that will help you become more efficient in the kitchen. This guide is going to take you from overwhelmed at the grocery store to organized with a plan. The goal is to save money when you shop while enjoying healthier and more delicious food.
Pick a day. Before you start with your grand plan, pick a day that works for your family for meal prep. This would require clipping coupons if you do so, reading the sale circulars, making a list, and shopping. When you return home, instead of quickly putting groceries away, you can start formulating your meals into freezer bags and containers.
The truth is that meal prep can become over stressful over time, and you may just give up. Don’t let a setback make you quit. Write it down, shop in the early or late hours of the day to avoid crowds, and use the internet to help you track lists and recipes.
Cook similar temperatures together. If you are baking chicken in the oven at 375 degrees, add an oven tray of chopped potatoes as well. You don’t need two ovens to create more than one dish at one time. Use what you’ve got! Just setup a timer to make sure you are cooking each dish correctly. You will save on energy costs too since you’re cooking multiple meals at once.
Don’t forget containers. Make sure all of your containers are cleaned and ready to go. You will want to dish out all of your food at once and have everything ready for the fridge. Set up a “buffet style” display so you can easily fill, close, and store your meals.
Purchase additional containers if necessary so you have a variety of sizes for soups, salads, lunches, dinners, and breakfasts. Have a permanent marker to identify cook times on the container and write an expiration date.
Use apps for additional savings. Once you get into the rhythm of prepping meals, you can start using apps to save even more money. Ibotta is an easy way to create a shopping list with redeemable offers to earn cash back on your grocery purchases. While they have branded items like pasta and snacks, they often have generic items for redemption like any loaf of bread or fresh fruit.
Gather recipe inspiration. If you find yourself feeling stuck, you can always sign up for a recipe services from a tool like Emeals. It provides you with a weekly shopping list along with recipe inspiration. You can make these meals ahead of time to freeze or enjoy later in the week so that you won’t have to cook every day!
By keeping these how to tips and methods in mind, you can make the entire meal planning and prepping process easier. You can also ensure you have everything you need, beyond the food, to get you on the right meal prep and planning track.