I used to think that I didn’t need to worry about meal planning unless I ended up with an army of children somewhere down the road. However, there is a Pinterest craze on meal planning and I just HAD to know what the big deal was.
I like the freedom of making what I feeeel like eating, not having some schedule that tells me what to eat. I like to be creative and spontaneous…. With my food at least! I love lists and calendars, don’t get me wrong: I AM TYPE A. But a food calendar seemed a little overboard.
That’s when I learned.
Do you KNOW how much time/money/stress this can save you???!!
A big thing is that you don’t let food go to waste. You can plan several meals that use some of the same ingredients. You can prep stuff like cut veggies, make soup stock, portion and freeze excess, and make things that you can eat on the go or at work etc.
I also find that a nice benefit of knowing what you are making is that you have the necessary ingredients on hand, so no last minute grocery trips. (Which add up in cost and contribute to waste.) Not to mention that you don’t have to spend forever deciding or discussing what to make.
Meal planning also really helps you cut back on eating out in excess or grabbing fast food. Plan your nights out into it! Eating out when you don’t want to cook or don’t have groceries adds up FAST.
Prepping on the weekends can also save you from buying premade/prepackaged things from the store. Not only are these things more expensive than DIY solutions, they are generally not healthy either.
Meal planning doesn’t have to be crazy strict and save you a lot of money. So I will leave you with some tricks that I, a college student cooking for myself and my fiancé, have learned as I have slowly adopted this practice.
- Plan, shop, and prep in the same day. A weekend or day off maybe.
- Keep essentials on hand. Depending on what you generally cook, this may look different for everyone. Some of my essentials: garlic, salt, pepper, butter, flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, milk, bread, eggs, oatmeal, olive oil, cheese, spinach, and pasta.
- Plan according to your schedule! If you’re going to eat lunch on campus, plan a sandwich, veggies, and chips to take with you. If you are working late, plan a meal the day before and plan to have leftovers after work.
- I like to plan standard things that I can get ingredients that are used multiple recipes. For example, my chicken salad, tuna casserole, and meatloaf all have celery and onions in them.
- If you are really trying to save money, plan simple things and shop smart. Get a membership card, and shop the sales at Kroger (the Kroger app makes coupons super easy to use and helloooo gas points!). Shop at Aldi, just don’t forget your cart quarter and to bring your own bags.
- Make soup once a week. It’s great for leftovers and is super cheap.
- Write it down. Put a list on your fridge or write it on your calendar. Heck! Put it in your phone calendar and make an alarm for an hour before you need to start cooking. Whatever helps you stay on track.
I will be posting new, easy to follow recipes and ways to be more thrifty! So check back soon and share your meal planning thoughts, tips, and tales!