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4 Ways to Make Meal Planning Easier

It takes many steps to shop, cook, and feed a family. And it can be hard at times. There are things you can try that may ease your stress and save you time and money. Planning ahead can help.

Here are 4 ways to get ready:

  1. Decide on meals. Make a simple weekly menu of meals your family enjoys. Some people like to make a large dish, like a casserole or soup that can feed the family for a few days. Other people prefer variety and don’t mind cooking more often. Try different ways to see what works best for you and your family.
  2. Check for ingredients at home. See what you already have in your pantry or fridge. Basics — like beans, frozen vegetables, rice, and pasta — can give you a headstart. Use these items in your meals. Leftovers are also a great place to begin. You can reheat them later in the week or include them in new meals. That way, you won’t have to buy as much at the store.
  3. Set aside time to shop and cook. Write it on your calendar or set a reminder on your phone. When you block time, it’s easier to follow through. And it may make your shopping trip go faster.
  4. Make a shopping list with your budget in mind. To save money, look for sales and store-brand items. Store-brand items are often cheaper than name brands. Check your store’s weekly ad for foods on sale. And stay flexible. For example, if you plan to cook a meal with broccoli, but asparagus is on sale, use asparagus in your recipe instead.

If you or someone you know needs help getting food, contact your state’s 2-1-1 program or food bank.

Reviewed by: Kathryn Russel, MS, RDN
Date Reviewed: Sep 15, 2023

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