Virtually everyone agrees that cooking at home is a fantastic thing to do for a huge variety of reasons, from getting to spend more time with family to saving money by avoiding high restaurant prices. Eating at home can mean healthier meals, happier families, and smaller waists, but putting food on the table every day can seem like an enormous chore, and there’s always the concern that you’ll get bored with the same meals every week. To combat the difficulty and boredom, the best thing to do is to have a meal plan.
Having a complete meal plan for each week or each month is one of the best ways to save money and ensure an excellent diet for everyone at home. By planning ahead, you can eschew expensive options like eating out or having prepackaged meals while simultaneously reducing the number of times you have to interrupt your day to go to the grocery store. Naturally, the cost comes in the organizational and planning stages.
The first step will always be to decide to get started, and that can be a difficult step to take. Begin by talking to your family members or roommates to get an idea of what foods they like to eat and what meals they enjoy. It will also be helpful to get an idea of when people plan to eat out during the week. Consult cookbooks or Internet resources to find new ideas every month, as well to prevent boredom. Next, put together your calendar, thinking ahead whenever possible. Will you have leftovers? If so, how will you incorporate them in the days ahead? Are there time-saving steps, like preparing components of meals ahead of time to assemble or save? Answering these questions will be essential.
Those looking for ways to make the process easier will find it helpful to put together a pre-written shopping list, which will ensure that you always pick up essentials without needing to write them down and remember them every week. It will also be important to learn to love your freezer. If you prepare more food than you’ll need, you can freeze the remainder, and incorporating these pre-made meals into your schedule will free up a lot of time that you’d otherwise spend cooking. Frozen whole foods are also a fantastic way to ensure you’re getting your fruits and vegetables. Try to avoid purchasing too many perishable goods, freeze what you won’t use immediately, and opt for already frozen produce when you think you won’t be able to use fresh ingredients in time.