Meal planning is the perfect way to save money and keep your creative side fueled. If you hunt down a fantastic recipe for cashew chicken that makes your mouth water just thinking about it, you’re way more likely to stick to your plan—and your budget—instead of eating out on impulse. Here’s the ultimate intro to succeeding at meal planning.
Pinterest is Your Planning Friend
For drool-worthy delights and all the gourmet inspiration, you could ever need, head over to Pinterest. Search your heart out, and scour the internet for delicious recipes. You can conveniently pin them all on one virtual bulletin board and scroll through whenever you need cooking motivation. When you’re planning your meals for the week, toss a few new ones in the calendar to spice things up.
Pick Theme Nights to Make Things Easier
Sometimes the creative juices just aren’t flowing, and you need to streamline your system. That’s where theme nights come in. Taco Tuesday, Thai Thursday and Pizza Friday can get you into a groove that’s easy to plan.
Write it All Out on a Calendar
Pull out your calendar (or a scrap of paper with the days of the week written on it), and jot down the meals you’re expecting to make on each day. This schedule doesn't have to be set in stone—sometimes you’re just not in the mood for whatever you’d planned on making—but it gives you a guideline that can help you stay on track. It helps to write down the ingredients you need by each entry, so you’re prepared when it comes time to make your grocery list.
Shop Your Fridge Before You Shop the Store
Once you have your meals picked out for the week, head to your fridge before you go to the store to shop, check off any items that you already have on hand, and use this as a way to tweak your planned meals if you have some ingredients that may go bad quickly.
Check for Sales to Help You Plan
Grab the sales circular from the newspaper or your mailbox, and see what’s on sale for the week while you’re planning your calendar. If there’s a screamin' deal on chicken breast, you could always go for chicken alfredo instead of meatballs in tomato sauce to save a little moola.
Stick to Your List While You Shop
Santa isn’t the only one who needs to make a list and check it twice. It’s easy to make a grocery list, but it doesn’t help you much unless you stick to it at the store. The single biggest money-saver at the supermarket is cutting down on impulse purchases.
Prep Your Protein and Veggies Right After You Shop
When you get home from the store, get straight to food prepping. Chop the vegetables you’re going to use for your lunch salad, and boil the eggs you’re planning on having for breakfast. That way, you have easy grab-and-go options that make it simple to stick to your plan.
Get Ready to Devour Your Gourmet Creations
Besides saving money (always a bonus!) your meal planning lets you get creative in the kitchen more often. Embrace that outlet for your originality, and enjoy dining in style!
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