Meal Planning: Save Time, Save Money, Save Your Diet

December 1, 2008 at 9:04 pm 3 comments

Planning your meals in advance is a priceless tactic for making a quantum leap forward in saving time, money, and energy, all while improving your health!  In the grocery store, you’ll save time by not wandering aimlessly through the aisles, trying to figure out what will “hold” your family for the week, and you’ll save a ton of money by not impulsively tossing items that “sound good” into your cart.  You know exactly what you need to feed your tribe, and if it’s not on the list, it’s not in the cart.  Morning and evening meal preparation are hugely simplified, since you won’t be staring blankly into the cabinets trying to figure out what to make.  Your diet will benefit tremendously as you are planning calmly and with intent, instead of haphazardly on the go.  You can choose smart meals to suit your family’s dietary needs, you won’t end up mindlessly munching or resorting to fast food in desperation, and it gives you the opportunity to plan more variety into your diet, providing a wider assortment of vitamins and nutrients, keeping you healthy and satisfied!

To begin the process, start collecting recipes and keep them in a binder or a database on the computer.  “Recipes,” in this context, does not have to mean something that requires cooking.  It can also mean ready-made store items, like frozen stir-fry meals, lasagnas, etc.  Keep a journal of what you’ve tried and liked.  You can make notes on any changes you’d make the next time you prepare that meal, what you paired it with, how long it took to prepare, the cost of the meal, the nutritional content… whatever information makes sense for your needs.  A three subject notebook can be a great organizer:  Try meals, sides/snacks/appetizers, and desserts/beverages; or just breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.  The only thing that really matters is that all your information is in a single location, not on scraps floating around loose.

 When preparing your grocery list for the week: 

  • Take a quick look at the family’s schedule to see on which days it is realistic to plan to cook a meal, how much food will need to be packed in lunches, and when members are likely to be grabbing on the go.
  • Make a list of meals that suit your available time.
  • Try to incorporate at least one new meal or recipe.
  • Look for recipes that provide leftovers or are easily prepared in double batches, and try to include one or two spaced through the week.  This will make lunch preparation super easy.
  • Add ingredients for all meals to your grocery list, then go back and cross off items you already have on hand.  This eliminates the unpleasant surprise of discovering something lacking when you’re already cooking.

Keep in mind that putting your system together can (and should) be an organic process.  You do not need to sit down and catalog everything your family has ever eaten all at once.  Just begin keeping track as you move forward week by week, and figure out what level of detail is comfortable for you – maybe you want to jot down notes each evening while it’s fresh in your head, maybe you want to price out meals each week when you return from shopping, or maybe you want to devote an hour a week to cataloguing the previous week’s meals.  Start today and you’ll build your resources in no time!  The benefits of planning your meals will be immediately apparent in your reduced grocery (and restaurant) bills, and reduced stress levels when preparing meals throughout the week.

Other goddess recommendations:

Goddess Brandy, also known as Paintandsoul, puts together a list of lunch, dinner, and snack options for the week, then buys ingredients for them.  When she’s ready to eat, she looks at her list to decide what to make.  (Check out Brandy at http://www.visionaryrealm.com, http://www.deviantart.com/paintandsoul, and follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/paintandsoul) 

Goddess Sara looks to see what’s in her cabinets first, then matches that with recipes from recipezaar.com.  This is a great tip if you have cabinets full of stuff that’s not getting eaten!  She also makes 3-4 casserole or crockpot meals through the week in order to have “planned-overs.”  (Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sarafigueroa)

Get your free copy of the book How To Be An Average Goddess at http://www.averagegoddess-freebook.com, and receive a complimentary subscription to the Secrets of the Sisterhood ezine as my gift to you!

Follow Kristy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/averagegoddess

Entry filed under: Food and Nutrition, Organization, Time Management. Tags: , , , , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • […] or Tweet me your response!  Good answers will be posted in the following week’s blog (see Meal Planning for an example), and the best will be featured in that issue of the ezine.  Please include your […]

    Reply
  • 2. Amalthea  |  December 2, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Awww, thanks for the shout outs my dear. This is a REALLY great post that I starred in my reader so I can check back into it later! It’ll probably get posted into my recipes file in OneNote too. Ah, how you and your goddessness have invaded my life!

    Reply
  • 3. averagegoddess  |  December 2, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    Amalthea – I only reflect YOUR goddessness back! (But I love the idea that I’m popping out of every file in your home and computer…)

    Reply

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