How to Meal Plan

by Staff

So many of us are guilty of reaching for the takeout menu after a long day of work instead of heading to the supermarket and stocking up the fridge. Despite this, the longer we procrastinate the dreaded grocery shop, the harder it becomes and the easier it becomes to settle for takeout once again. Not only is this bad for our stomachs, but it’s bad for our wallets, making meal planning an essential feature of daily life. Arguably, the hardest part of making a meal is deciding what to eat; therefore, a solid weekly meal plan allows you to avoid this dilemma.

Choose Dinners and Recipes

First things first, you should choose the dinners you’re going to eat in the week, find their recipes if necessary, and write your grocery list around this. Whether you note it down on an old-fashioned piece of paper, scribble it on a frosted wipe board, or type it up on your phone, make sure you write a list. Without physically writing a list, you’re sure to forget something, forcing you to head to a convenience store and pay the inflated prices. This list is the foundation of your week’s meal plan so make sure you’re happy with every dish you add.

Shop for Ingredients

Once you’ve got a list together, you can then shop for your ingredients. Whether you visit the grocery store yourself or shop online, you’ll likely be able to grab everything you need with ease. Sometimes, when shopping online, you’ll be presented with substitutions for items that aren’t available, so you might have to adjust your recipes accordingly. Make sure you buy enough for the week but not so much that the food will go bad before you get the chance to eat it. If you are a fan of shopping in bulk, make sure you’ve got plenty of room in your freezer to keep your food for some time.

Buy Enough for Leftovers

It’s all well and good planning your dinners, but many of us find ourselves tripping up at lunch on those days at work. Instead of getting up and making sandwiches in the morning, most of us opt for those extra five minutes in bed and head out for lunch. Therefore, we’re spending so much money on fast food and gas station sandwiches, which seems like such a waste when we’ve been so good for our dinners. In order to reduce the effort of making lunch, just make a bigger batch of dinner and take the leftovers in for lunch the following day.

Schedule Meals Using Best Before Dates

Once you’ve got all your ingredients from the store or they’ve been delivered, you can then use them to construct your week’s menu. If the main ingredient of your meals is meat, take a look at the best before dates on each of your meats and schedule your meals in accordingly. For instance, the ones with the earlier date should be scheduled in sooner than the others. If you’re looking to schedule a takeout into your weekly menu, make sure you’ve eaten everything that can go bad first to avoid wastage.

Prepare Your Dinners Accordingly 

When you’ve got your menu together, you then have a foundation to cook your meals. This makes it so much easier to come home from a long day and actually cook yourself something, as you don’t need to worry about decision making or shopping – you’ve done all this hard work in advance! Simply follow the menu you’ve created every day and enjoy some delicious homecooked food (and the occasional takeout).

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The New Jersey Digest is a new jersey magazine that has chronicled daily life in the Garden State for over 10 years.

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