A brand new year presents us with a fresh new start and the opportunity to make certain changes from years past. People often make new year’s resolutions in an effort to improve certain areas of their lives, and getting healthier is a popular one.
In fact, it’s estimated that about 45% of new year’s resolutions are to lose weight and get healthier. But making this new year’s resolution and keeping it are two different things.
Without a solid plan in place, it can be easy for people who make this promise to themselves to fall off the bandwagon along the journey.
That’s why it’s so important for those who’ve made the decision to get healthy in 2019 to meal plan. Maintaining an optimal weight takes some effort, and knowing exactly what you’re putting into your mouth at every meal can help you achieve your goals faster.
Meal planning simply involves taking the guesswork out of what’s going to be eaten at each meal by planning the meals ahead of time.
You’ll go shopping for all your ingredient products and prep all the food for the week ahead. Basically, you’ll decide what meals you’ll want, find the recipes for each meal, go shopping for the ingredients, and prepare the food accordingly. Doing so will allow you to know exactly what you’re eating every day.
To get a head start on meal planning (and keep your expenses low at the same time), here are a few tips to follow.
Plan Your Meals According to Your Lifestyle
Not everyone’s life is the same. Given this, it’s important that you consider your lifestyle before you start meal planning. For instance, if your weeknights are usually packed with kids’ homework or extracurriculars, that’s not a great time to try out new recipes. There may also be some nights when meal prepping isn’t required.
Keep your schedule and lifestyle in mind when meal planning and consider all the activities that will be taking place throughout the week. Get a clear picture of your itinerary before you embark on your meal planning journey to make sure your meals are planned according to your schedule.
Only Try One New Meal Per Week
It’s a lot easier to prepare and cook a meal that you’re familiar with. But trying out something new can take a little trial and error. As such, consider trying one new meal only once per week in order to avoid any frustrations and unpleasant surprises.
Make Things Easy With Pasta
Who doesn’t love a delicious bowl of pasta? Plus, it’s very affordable compared to other food products, so it can both save you time and money.
Schedule at least one pasta night a week, and change up the type of sauce every time. That way, you’re not eating a single item over and over again. Whatever your taste buds happen to prefer, there’s a pasta dish to satisfy it.
Do a Protein and Veggie Night
There’s nothing overly fancy or difficult about preparing a protein and veggie dish once a week, so be sure to include this meal in your schedule. Chicken, pork, beef, veal, fish, and even tofu options are always readily available at your grocery store and can serve as the base of your dishes.
You can bake, fry, broil, or even grill your protein, and include any type of veggies that you enjoy. You can even switch up the protein-veggie combos or try different sauces to keep things interesting.
Give Soup and Salad a Shot
Another classic meal is the timeless soup and salad combo. Again, you can mix up the combinations of soups and salads every week to prevent this meal from ever getting boring. Throw in some garlic bread or bruschetta alongside the meal to add a little something extra.
Put Your Slow Cooker to Good Use
Some meals can be whipped up in a matter of minutes. But others can take hours to be fully cooked.To make things easier for you, purchase a slow cooker. In fact, this piece of equipment should be included with all your other kitchen appliances. You can purchase one for a great price using Bed Bath and Beyond coupons.
Simply toss in all your ingredients, flip the switch, and set the timer to cook your meal. By the time you get home from work, you’ll have a delectable meal waiting for you.
Follow These Steps For the Best Meal Planning Experience
If you want to experience smooth sailing with your meal planning, consider following these steps.
Step 1: Ask Yourself Why You’re Meal Planning
Everyone will have their own reasons for meal planning. Some may want to eat healthier, while others may want to have more variety in their meals. Some people may just want to make things easier for themselves and reduce waste, while others still may want to save money. Ask yourself why you’re meal planning before you start this journey.
Step 2: Choose Your Recipes
This is an important step. After all, not only do you want to make sure you pick something that you enjoy, but you’ll also want to make sure your weekly grocery store bills fit into your budget.
Follow these tips when selecting your weekly recipes:
- Determine the number of meals you’ll need to plan for each week.
- Pick meals that will leave you with leftovers.
- Include recipes you’re familiar with (plus one new one each week).
- Choose recipes that have ingredients that are easy to find when shopping.
- Pick meals that you know you’ll enjoy.
Step 3: Make a “Smart” Grocery List
Now that you know what recipes you’ll be enjoying throughout the week, your next step is to actually purchase the ingredients you’ll need from the grocery store to prepare them. You can make this next step easier on yourself by first creating an ingredients list, then a grocery list.
Your ingredient list will outline everything needed to make the recipes you’ve chosen. Take a look in your fridge, pantry, and cellar to see if you already have some of the ingredients on the list.
Once you’ve made note of what you already have, list the remaining ingredients required on your grocery list to fill in the gaps with the foods that you still need to buy. That way you’re not wasting any money buying things you’ve already got at home!
Step 4: Take an Hour to Prep Your Meals
Choose a day of the week when you have a couple of hours to spare, and use that free time to do all the heavy prep work. You’ll need time to organize your ingredient products, chop them (if necessary), and place them in separate containers so they’re ready for the week ahead. As such, be sure to pencil in at least an hour or two to give yourself enough time.
Make Meal Time Easier With Meal Planning!
If your new year’s resolution this year is to get healthier, save money, and even reduce waste, meal planning can be the perfect habit to adopt. It might sound daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder how you got along without meal planning all this time!