It IS possible to cook delicious, healthy and affordable meals at home on a regular basis. Not only that, the options are endless! Here are 6 tips for creating totally doable meal plans!
1. Keep it simple
I'm a foodie at heart and would love to make a 3-course meal every night, but it's just not realistic. We are a family of four on one income. Time is limited, and so is our budget. My goal when meal planning to have an attainable goal set for myself with meals that are affordable, fast, and healthy.
2. Shop the sales
Every week I look at the sales at my favorite local grocery store and use those ingredients, along with what I already have, to plan my meals. This past week; ravioli, Greek yogurt, fresh herbs, and butter were all on sale. I already had garlic and paprika at home, and that gave me all the ingredients to make Weeknight Turkish Manti. I wanted to add a fresh side dish and saw that tomatoes were also on sale, so I put together a tomato and cucumber salad. The only thing I paid full price for in this meal was a cucumber!
If you see ingredients that look like they'd go well together but you don't have a particular dish or recipe in mind, check out the ingredient search on AllRecipes.com.
3. Start with produce
In an effort towards plant-based eating, I look at the produce that's on sale first. That way I start the meal-planing process thinking about the veggies I want to include, rather than making them an afterthought.
4.Warm up to leftovers
Why do I only plan 3-4 meals a week? Because I only want to take the time to cook 3-4 times a week. This way, I can maximize the savings by making larger batches that will feed us more then once, and I get a few dinner's-already-done nights off! every week!
5. Use what your mama gave you - your slow cooker
It doesn't always work out, but I try to have a slow cooker meal on the menu once a week. It gives me a sense of accomplishment in the morning that dinner's already been made, and it frees up my time in the evening so I can get more done elsewhere or, on a good day, have some extra downtime with Hubs.
6. Branch out
When you're trying to eat healthy, quick, and affordable meals, it's easy to find yourself in a rut. Look to cuisines that you are less familiar with and try something new! You could make that tuna casserole ... again, or you could try whipping up some gazpacho or pineapple enchiladas!
Do you have any other tips for planing meals? I'd love to hear them!