Meal planning and saving money

"Meal planning" is a popular buzz phrase these days, but many people don't know what that means. It's not about going to the grocery store armed with a list (although that's part of it) - it's also about planning ahead to create meals that are not only healthy but economical too.

The first step in meal planning is determining the best system to use. This could be as simple as having a chalkboard or wipe-off board in the kitchen with the menu for the week, or using one of the many apps that are available for just this (you can pllan meals, create lists, and even receive notifications of specials and sales). Make sure this is a system that works for not only you, the planner, but for your entire household (if you have young kids, maybe magnet pictograms would work best).

Next is finding what meals you want to make for the week ahead. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration, and you can also find certain recipe websites where you can subscribe to their feeds. But still some of us (like myself) love a trusty hardcover cookbook. Choose meals that are healthy and won't break the bank (maybe you could have a dinner or two that will help use up leftovers in the freezer or pantry). Have the whole family decide what the menu should be (maybe each person could have a designated day).  

Once you know what meals you'll be having for the next week or so, it's time to make a shopping list. Group "like" items together on your list to make the process easier (produce in one section, meat, dairy, dry goods, etc.). Places like fruit markets can often be much cheaper for buying fruits and veggies than the big box grocery stores.

Organize your food once you get home. Labels in the fridge as well as in cupboards can be a huge time-saver when cooking and packing lunches throughout the week. So can prepping certain foods ahead of time (separating large packages of meat, for example, or pre-washing and slicing veggies for salads and sides).

Happy eating!

Melany xx

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