5 Go-To Meal Planning Strategies
It may be tempting to reach for the takeout menu when you’re just too tired to cook, but healthy eating is never too far out of reach. The key is to stay ahead of it, and with a little preparation and organization, you can eat healthy from home as much as you want.
Here are five ideas to systematize your at-home cooking:
1. Make a go-to grocery list
Using a spreadsheet, app, or note on your phone, write down the items you buy every time you go to the store. Think about the fresh produce, snacks, or other go-to items you turn to when you need to make a quick meal. Keep this list handy so you can make a quick trip to restock whenever you need to. No extra thinking required. Take it one step further by keeping a list of the go-to snacks and meals that use those on-hand ingredients on the fridge.
2. Use a meal-planning app
For a monthly subscription, apps like Plan to Eat and Paprika make it easy to meal plan by making the information you need accessible and seamless to organize. Search for recipes based on your mood or way of eating, and save your favorites. They even generate grocery lists for you from each recipe.
3. Create meal checklists
Prefer pen and paper? Do it the old-fashioned way by picking up a meal planning notepad or printing a template online. Tools like these help you plan your meals a week or month ahead of time by listing out the ingredients you need for each one, taking note of what you already have, and what you need to buy. You’ll save yourself from making multiple trips to the grocery store, and avoid having to figure out what to eat one meal at a time.
4. Automate grocery shopping
If you don’t have time to do your grocery shopping, skip the store altogether. Have your groceries delivered with apps like AmazonFresh or Instacart. You can shop online or on their apps, and time your deliveries to fit your schedule. If you prefer to buy your produce from local farms, try a produce box in your area that sources fruits and vegetables from local farmers. If you eat a lot of meat and prefer it to be grass-fed, try Butcher Box.
5. prep food in advance
Rather than chopping vegetables or cooking meat for each individual meal, prep what you can in advance. If you know you’ll need three chicken breasts for the meals you’ve planned this week, cook it in advance and store it in the fridge to heat up later. The same goes for chopping the vegetables you’ll use in a salad or cooking rice for your burrito bowl. You’ll save time on prep, cooking, and cleanup and have ingredients ready to throw together when it’s time to cook.