Meal planning–which is different than meal prepping, has changed my life completely and has made it better both physically and financially. Rather than cooking all of my meals for the week on Sunday and then putting them into containers to eat throughout the week, I just plan what I’m going to make throughout the week and make a concise grocery list. By being organized about what I’m going to eat and buy, I rarely waste food and save a lot of money.
Every Sunday I meal plan for our family. I start by pulling out my cookbooks to get inspiration for the meals I will cook during the week, then I take a look at what I already have in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer and finally, I make my list. I usually only plan meals Monday-Thursday because by the end of the week I’m tired and want to go out for dinner or we might have plans.
Once I’ve decided on what I’ll be cooking for the week, I make my list and try to organize it by where each item is located in the store. For example, I put all vegetables together, all meats and fish together, etc. By doing this, I can clearly see what I need from each area so I don’t end up at the register and realize I have forgotten the zucchini I need for my meal one night.
I started getting passionate about meal planning when I moved to Houston seven years ago. First and foremost, I had gained 15 lbs. from eating out too much and I was also looking to save money because I pretty much made no money at my first job in Houston, Neiman Marcus. Through meal planning, I actually learned to cook pretty well and it has become a hobby and passion of mine. Meal planning really saved us during the first months of the pandemic because I was able to get creative with what food we did have and make really delicious meals.
I think it’s essential to have a plan when you go to the store. I don’t have a lot of free time so I don’t want to have to go to the store multiple times a week. By making a well-thought out list, you can save yourself a ton of time and money by not buying things you don’t need or forgetting things you really do need.
The best part of meal planning is that once you’re done with the shopping, all of your hard work is over for the week (in terms of food.) There’s no last-minute stress about what you’re going to make or do for the family because that’s all done…you just have to cook it!
Happy cooking, friends! I hope you all have a happy and healthy week ahead of you!