Keeping our families healthy is a priority for everyone right now. While food alone can’t prevent all illness – a balanced diet helps keep your body’s disease-fighting mechanisms in top shape! Meal planning is a great money-saving tip to help ensure you and your family can access a good variety of nutritious foods! While I always promote having a plan, during uncertain times like these I think it’s especially important. If you’re new to meal planning, use the steps below to guide you towards success!
1. Choose your recipes
Get online or break out those cookbooks – it’s time to get inspired! Now is a great time to actually try all those recipes you’ve been saving to your Pinterest board! Read through the recipes and plan to start with just 2 or 3 new ideas each week. It’s probably not realistic to expect that you’ll cook an elaborate meal every day, so be sure to include a few simple meals as well – ie soup and sandwiches, eggs and toast etc. Lastly, try to get input from all family members (including the kids!) about what kinds of foods they would like to eat – you will get more buy-in from them if they feel included.
2. Plan for leftovers
When in doubt, make a little extra. If you’re working from home or practicing social distancing, chances are you’re eating more of your lunches at home than ever before. Don’t fall into the trap of skipping this important meal because “there’s nothing to eat”- put those leftovers to work! Plan to toss leftover chicken into a salad or wrap, make an omelet with last night’s veggies or just reheat that casserole, soup or chili!
3. Minimize Waste
Don’t let your produce go to waste. When selecting recipes or side dishes try to use the same ingredients a few times in the same week. For example – if you’re planning to use ½ a head of broccoli on Monday, be sure to plan a recipe to use the second half later that week.
4. Make a List
Once your plan is done, craft your grocery list accordingly. Be sure to check your pantry and fridge for anything you already have on hand to avoid double-purchasing. Also remember to include items for snacks and breakfasts and any household items that need replacing.
5. Be Flexible
We can’t afford to be overly rigid in the current times, so if you get to the store and one of your ingredients is out of stock be prepared to either do without or replace it with a similar product. For example, if your recipe calls for fresh green beans and none are available, consider using frozen or canned beans or another green veggie like asparagus instead. For your reference Allrecipes has a great tool for finding alternatives for out of stock ingredients. Check it out here – Common Ingredient Substitutions
6. Avoid Hoarding Ingredients
Last, but certainly not least, avoid buying more than you need for a week or two! Over stocking your house might seem harmless, but it may mean that others in your community are not able to access the basics they need for that week. Be kind and share resources fairly! For more meal planning tools, visit Cookspiration and try out their menu planner!