I’m sure many of you can relate: you come home after a long day of work or school and the last thing you want to do is to spend time cooking. I myself have a full time job and am a part time student. Despite my love for cooking, I too find it difficult to put together a meal every night. But what I have found, is that with some simple planning and preparation, it can be done!
I can’t take all the credit for these meal planning tips. Most of them I have taken from my mother who was always so good about planning meals for the week ahead. Here are some tips that I’ve found to be helpful in saving both time and money.
1. Pick your least busy day each week to plan out your meals.
For me this often ends up being Sundays. While enjoying my morning coffee I go through cookbooks and blogs and pick at least 3 meals I want to cook that week, always getting a little help from my curious cat Nala. When choosing recipes, I like to pick one that’s more time intensive for Sunday night that will leave left overs, another recipe (like a casserole or crockpot recipe) that I can throw together ahead of time and heat up when I get home, and lastly a recipe that takes about 30 minutes or less to prepare and cook.
2. Make a shopping list.
I go through each recipe and figure out the ingredients I need and go through my pantry/fridge to see what items I already have to figure out and write down what I need to purchase. Having a shopping list not only helps cut down the time I spend in the grocery store, but it also helps cut down my weekly food bill. Setting up a plan for meals for the week will also prevent you from having to waste time going back to the grocery store later in the week.
3. Prep foods in advance.
Sundays are also the day I like to prep foods. Depending on what you are cooking that week there are many foods you can prepare ahead of time to save some later in the week.
-Cook grains (rice, pasta, quinoa etc)
-Pull out and measure ingredients
-Cook meat in a crockpot
Once everything is prepared, just place in an air tight container or zip lock bag and store in the fridge.
Here’s what I have planned this week …5 meals (for 2 people), 3 dishes, and only 2 days of cooking!
Week of 2/8 Meals:
- Homemade Tomato Bisque with Grilled Cheese
- Crock Pot Turkey Meatballs (prep)
- Monday (cook meatballs while at work)
- Crockpot Meatballs with Whole Wheat Pasta and Salad
- Tuesday (class, leftovers)
- Tomato Bisque
- Crockpot Meatball Subs with Salad
- Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Sautéed Zucchini