Are you experiencing the “What’s for Dinner Dilemma” yourself? Then you are not by yourself. After a hectic day, mealtimes provide additional stress, uncertainty, and worry for a lot of people, couples, and families. Consequently, making meal plans and making sure you have the items you need on hand can seem like pipe dreams. As a result, takeaway becomes a tempting, costly, and typical option that may jeopardize our best efforts to cook more at home and maintain good health. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Meal preparation can put an end to the dreaded “What’s for Dinner Dilemma” and indecision.
A MEAL PLAN: WHAT IS IT?
Making meal plans in advance is the act of meal planning.
In my opinion as a licensed dietitian and ardent supporter of meal planning, “healthy eating does not happen by accident.” Rather, in order to position ourselves for success, we must give priority to nutrition and make some—or a lot—of plans. Our FREE Meal Plan Like a Pro resource guide discusses this tactic.
It is possible to acquire the knowledge required to plan meals proficiently. With practice, we can build from small beginnings. We’ll explain meal planning today, then go through its top advantages and offer advice on how to start improving your abilities! Now let’s get going.
- Make a list of your groceries.
Take stock of your groceries and open your refrigerator as the first stage in meal planning. As a result, this helps you shop at the grocery store only for what you need and to use your current fresh food FIRST. Using what you already have will also help you create more creative meals and reduce food waste, which will save you money.
Make a meal plan before you go grocery shopping, advises a dietician. You can save time and money by doing this and just purchasing what you really need.
Guidelines for Meal Planning
Dietician Tip: Foods are less likely to spoil if we prioritize them in our meal plans and are aware of what is currently in stock. We can implement “first-in, first-out” when we have a plan.
- Organizing a food plan increases your life.
Meal planning is routinely allotting time to look over your calendar in advance and determine when you have time to cook or prepare large batches of food. As for the second meal planning suggestion, I suggest taking 20 to 30 minutes to sit down and consider your schedule, the next week, and how much time you have to cook. It is essential to be able to view your schedule. Next, decide on a time slot that you can use for meal planning. For instance, a lot of clients schedule their meals for the coming week on a Saturday or Sunday morning.
First, list all of your weekly obligations and project how long you will feel comfortable cooking each day. For instance, you might schedule an early dinner if your piano lessons are on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Next, determine how much time you can dedicate to cooking (or reheating leftovers) and when you will be returning home from work. Perhaps you decide to begin preparing dinner around 5:30. So far, so simple, right?
- Make shopping lists, use your imagination, and enjoy yourself
It’s time to get creative and design those meals now that your meal plan includes your schedule parameters for the amount of time you have available to prepare and you’ve completed your grocery inventory for the items you need to use up. For novices, the process of organizing your meals is more crucial than your cooking ability. Put another way, it’s more crucial to create a very basic meal plan and stick to it than it is to aim for very sophisticated culinary masterpieces. After all, a busy nightly schedule can make these dinners unsustainable. Simplifying things can be quite powerful.
Make sure to include the ingredients you’ll need on a grocery list at the bottom of your meal plan as you brainstorm dinner ideas! In this manner, you can simply visit the grocery store and get the items you actually need to prepare the meals you have planned for the coming week. To include goods you need to pick up when shopping, make sure to print copies of the grocery checklist (download accessible below).
Sophisticated food planning is a taught ability. Meal planning is a talent that you should gradually hone. Start small. Meal planning, even with a simple outline, enhances the likelihood of cooking at home, decreases stress and indecision, saves money, and minimizes food waste when it comes to dinnertime.
You may start using your top 3 recommendations to assist with meal planning now that you understand the distinction between meal plans and meal planning! Make sure you begin by listing all of the groceries you currently own. After that, look over your weekly schedule to get an idea of how long it will take to prepare or reheat leftovers. Plan dishes that can be frozen, saved for lunches, or used for dinner the next night. Record the times you have available in the notes part of your calendar when you can prepare in bulk. Lastly, picking meals gives you the opportunity to go creative or start simple with dishes the whole family will love.
In general, try to maintain consistency when you first start meal planning. This boosts self-assurance, organizing abilities, and satisfaction in completing tasks.