As our lifestyles become ever more busy and hectic, meal planning has emerged as a vital hack to help us maintain a healthy diet, save time, and reduce stress. By mapping out a week’s worth of meals in advance and prepping ingredients ahead of time, we can avoid last-minute meal decisions and make the most of our time in the kitchen.
To help you master the art of meal planning, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks that will make the process effortless and efficient.
1. Start Small and Keep It Simple
If you’re new to meal planning, it’s important to start small and keep it simple. Don’t try to plan an elaborate seven-course meal for every night of the week, or you’ll quickly become overwhelmed. Instead, choose a few simple meals that you already know how to cook and that your family enjoys.
2. Set Aside Time
Schedule time each week to plan and prep meals. By setting aside an hour or two on a weekend morning, you can plan all of your meals for the week, make a grocery list, and chop vegetables, marinate meats, and cook any components of your meals that can be made ahead of time.
3. Plan for Leftovers
When you’re planning your meals, consider how you can use leftovers in future meals. For example, roast a chicken or cook a big pot of chili on Sunday, and use the leftovers for lunches throughout the week.
4. Make a Grocery List
Before you head to the grocery store, make a list of everything you need for the week’s meals. This will help you avoid impulse purchases that can blow your budget and lead to food waste.
5. Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk can save you money and time in the long run. Purchase non-perishable staples like rice, pasta, and canned tomatoes in bulk, and freeze fresh meats and vegetables in portions that you can use for multiple meals.
6. Embrace Meal Prep
Meal prep is the process of preparing ingredients ahead of time so that you can quickly assemble meals throughout the week. This might mean chopping vegetables, cooking grains, or marinating meats. By doing this prep work in advance, you’ll save time during the week and be more likely to stick to your meal plan.
7. Use a Slow Cooker
A slow cooker is a busy cook’s best friend. It allows you to cook meals low and slow, which imparts rich flavor and tenderizes tough meats. It also frees up your hands and your time, as you can leave it unattended while you go about your day.
By following these tips and tricks, you’ll soon find that meal planning becomes second nature. Not only will you save time and reduce stress, but you’ll also enjoy delicious, healthy meals that nourish your body and bring joy to your table.