You will certainly benefit from using a meal planner, whether it is a formal printed or interactive planner or simply a few notes jotted down on the back of an envelope. With a little preparation, planning your meals in advance can help you save time and money at the grocery store or from dashing through the drive-thru at lunch or dinner. Developing a meal plan can also help you eat a more nutritious, well-balanced diet that includes nutrient-rich foods from each of the five food groups. You may find that you can better manage your weight if you plan and prepare meals at home more often.
Here are some tips and ideas for developing and sticking to a meal plan:
- Create a two-week or one-month rotation of your favorite recipes and change-up as necessary
- Scour your pantry, freezer and fridge to plan meals around items you already have on hand
- Include meals in your plan when you will eat out or take-out/pick-up so that the meal plan reflects your realistic schedule
- Search our database of healthy recipes for ideas and new twists
- Plan meals that include foods from each of the food groups
- Include snacks on your meal plan so that you can use them as opportunities to eat more nutritious foods
- Look for meals that use similar ingredients (like fresh spices or leftover chicken) to avoid waste
- Remember to include beverages in your meal plan to identify where you may be taking in empty calories or have opportunities to add food groups like milk or fruit
- Take our Food Personality Quiz to help you figure out what items to add to your shopping list
Regardless of how you decide to meal plan, taking some time to think about preparing meals ahead will help you save time, money and eat healthier! If you're preparing meals for your family, you'll be ready with an answer when asked "What's for dinner?" or "What can I eat?" You can even plan family meals to cook with kids or for older children and teens to prepare on their own.