Many of my clients at Habitat Health and Fitness in Lakeland, FL, ask me about a variety of different fitness techniques and options. One that I find particularly good and have said so before is planning your meals and cooking them for a week at a time. It not only helps people stick with a healthy plan of eating, it makes it easier, saves time and money. People ask how to start meal planning and exactly what it is. Typically, it’s planning a week’s worth of meals during the week, often on Wednesday because grocery sales are announced, then create a grocery list. Shopping is done after you eat on Thursday or Friday and meals are cooked for the next week over the weekend.
Start with the best time to plan.
In order to get the most for your money, start first by scanning the local grocery ads and the season fruits and vegetables. Keeping the sale items in mind and cheaper produce, start planning a week’s menu. Focus on meals that use the same type of food, so there isn’t a lot of waste. For instance, Monday might include chicken breast, so make a whole chicken, which is cheaper. Use the chicken breasts for Monday, have chicken salad on Thursday and chicken soup with the balance of leftover veggies on Friday.
You don’t have to stick with a Wednesday, Friday and weekend schedule, so what’s right for you.
Those that work ten-hour shifts but vary their work days will have different needs than someone that works a nine-to-five, five days a week. The days you plan, shop and cook can vary, just stick to the rules of eating before you shop and planning all at once. Some people use two days to cook, while other do it all one day. When you’re cooking, you can save time by having two things in the oven at once or using your crock pot or instant pot, while cooking on the stove top or oven. You can even cook two meals in the oven at once, which saves even more money on gas.
Freeze ingredients you don’t use or make sure you use them for other recipes.
If you just need one chicken breast, but find it’s far cheaper to buy the whole chicken, buy the whole chicken. You can use it for other things, as noted previously, or freeze the remaining parts to use another week. Does the recipe require fresh herbs? You can’t buy them buy the tablespoon full, so you’ll have a lot leftover. Freeze them in cube trays to use another time. Save the broth from boiled meats to use for soups another week.
- Don’t forget to include healthy snacks in your meal planning. Buying nuts and dried fruit makes a healthy trail mix, or simply cutting up cantaloupe and having it ready for snacks is another option.
- You’ll save both money and boost your nutrition when you opt for fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables. Try to include as many fruits and vegetable choices from local farmers as possible.
- You’ll save time down the road if you double up on recipes and freeze the extra for a few weeks or months later. Having the extra pre-prepared meals is also good when you have unexpected company.
- As soon as you get home from the grocery, clean and prepare all fresh fruits and vegetables, such as cubing melons or slicing veggies to portions that are dip ready. You can still use them in meals, but also as snacks.
For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health and Fitness