Meal planning is the practice of organizing and planning the meals that you will cook for a specific period of time, usually for the whole week. Sometimes, people even plan the meals that they will prepare for the whole month. There is no right or wrong way to do this as this is something that depends on your personal preferences. However, there are some strategies for a more effective meal planning. Below are some of our tried and tested techniques.
- Spend your free time looking for recipes that you can easily try.
In today’s internet era, it is easier to gain access to recipes that you can easily try. Browse the internet for food blogs and websites that share recipes. In addition, you can also purchase cookbooks for your reference. We know it is difficult to think of meals to prepare, so doing this will get you inspired and make meal planning much easier.
- Ask the people you live with what they like to eat in the next days.
Obviously, it would be easier for you to come up with a plan for the week if the people you live with, be it your family or friends, make some meal suggestions and tell you what they want to eat. You will be surprised by how much time you’ll save by asking them, instead of browsing the internet for recipes without knowing exactly what you are looking for.
- Maintain a meal journal.
A meal journal is like a record of the dishes that you’ve cooked. By keeping a meal journal, you’ll be able to get some ideas on what to cook or which recipe can you modify and prepare for the present.
- Consider the weather.
Many people fail to do this, but this is actually a sound idea. By checking the weather forecast, you’ll know if you’re gonna be in the mood for soup or if you can plan for an outdoor barbecue party.
- Organize a calendar.
Start a calendar that details what you would like to prepare for the week. You may use Google Calendar and other calendar apps, or simply take down notes on a physical calendar. What’s important is to write them down.
- Choose a theme for each day or meal of the day.
For instance, you may plan for a pasta night, a barbecue party for lunch, and so on. This can be really helpful especially if you have kids in the household, as they will surely find this an enjoyable and memorable experience. What’s great about setting a theme is that your choices of food to cook will be narrowed down and you’ll be able to make recipe decisions much faster.
- Schedule a day for shopping.
Scheduling a grocery shopping day is a vital aspect of meal planning. Once you have a list of recipes to cook, you’ll know what ingredients you’ll need. We would highly recommend that you write down a shopping list to make this process a whole lot easier.
- Think of recipes for possible leftovers.
If you and the people you live with have tolerance for leftovers, we also recommend that you come up with recipes that you can cook from leftovers. This will not only prevent you from wasting food, but will help you plan your meals for the week.
- Ensure that you always have supplies in your kitchen.
If your kitchen is well-stocked with supplies, it would be much easier for you to prepare food. Aside from essentials such as oil and other condiments, you should also keep some spices and herbs in your kitchen because they may come in handy.
- Be strategic in keeping food in your refrigerator.
Although I’ve mentioned earlier that you should keep your kitchen well-stocked, you should not overstuff your refrigerator. If you do this, there is a great chance that you will forget about some of these foods to the point that they will get spoiled.
To prevent this from happening, make a list of the things inside your refrigerator, so you and the other people living in the house will be reminded of what remains to be eaten. You don’t have to buy all the ingredients in your weekly meal plan at once because some are best cooked or prepared when they are fresh instead of frozen.
So there you have it, our most effective meal planning strategies. If you find this task challenging at first, know that what you’re experiencing or feeling is perfectly normal. However, by doing the simple tips shared in this article, meal planning will surely be much easier and faster to accomplish.