You’ve probably already heard of meal planning, but since the process is usually styled as a secret tool of the fitness queens of Instagram, maybe you never tried it. Or you did, but it seemed complicated so you gave up. It could be that planning things out ahead of time just isn’t your jam. But, if you need a way to save time and money and also eat a little healthier, then it’s time to give it another try with these meal planning basics.
There are so many different ways you can tackle meal planning basics. This is partly because it’s a fairly customizable process that you can tweak to make work for you. In this post we’ll work on setting the parameters for your meal planning.
Set your time frame
Are you planning for a week out? Two weeks? A month? If you’re just getting started, I wholeheartedly suggest that you do not plan for a month’s worth of meals. Why? I mean, that’s a lot to plan out all at once. Like, a lot. I don’t even want to do that.
I’ve found one of the best time frames to work with is a week. A week gives you room to plan, shop, and cook without anything getting too overwhelming.
What meals are you planning for?
Are you only planning out dinners for the week? Just lunches? This can be helpful and hey, maybe that’s really all you need. However, planning for breakfast, lunch, and dinner will probably yield better results in the end.
It might feel like more work, but after you’ve done it for 2 or 3 weeks you’ll fall into an easy routine.
You are not cooking a 3-course meal on nights when you get home from work at 8 p.m. I mean, I guess maybe you could? But there’s a huge likelihood that the moment you step foot in the kitchen you’ll reach for something easy instead of what you planned.
If your upcoming week is busy, plan easy meals that come together quickly. Still want to cook up a nice, big meal? Do it on nights when you have more time or keep this type of cooking for the weekends.
Embrace kitchen staples
When you shop once (or maybe twice) a week, you need your food to last. My favorite method is to plan meals that use a lot of fresh produce in the first half of the week, and then plan meals with frozen vegetables for the second half.
Which means that yes, it’s time to embrace the frozen vegetables. And the packages of rice, canned or dried beans, dried pasta, or whatever other staples you need to get through the week. Make things easier on yourself and buy your favorite staples when they’re on sale to keep your pantry and freezer stocked.
Meal planning is basically a magical process that makes everything in life easier. Yes, everything. Eating healthier? Easier. Saving money on groceries? Easier. Saving time? Mother flipping easier. So start thinking about your meal planning basics like time frame and favorite kitchen staples, and get ready to learn more about meal planning soon.