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Meal Planning 101: Where To Start

Have you ever found yourself standing in front of an open fridge, scratching your head and wondering what on earth you’re going to make for dinner? Maybe you’ve cringed at the thought of checking your bank balance after yet another expensive restaurant outing. Or, especially these days, you’ve become frustrated with the rising costs of groceries and food, due to inflation.  

Well, meal planning can help! The thought of meal planning may seem intimidating at first, but in the long run not only does it save you time and stress, it also does wonders for your financial well-being.  

Don’t know where to start? We’ve got you covered.

What is meal planning?

Meal planning is precisely what its name suggests: planning meals and making them ahead of time, usually for a specific period (like one week).  

With meal planning, you choose the dishes you want to make, make a list of the ingredients you need, and then go shopping. And it’s a great tool to help you stay on budget! With shrinkflation on the rise, being able to get your bang for your buck when it comes to meals is more important than ever.  

You can avoid the stress of figuring out what to cook at the last minute and, while it may take some time during one day, in the long run it saves you time and money. Plus, when the hunger kicks in, it’s nice to know you already have food ready—without having to resort to take-out or delivery.

Steps to meal planning

Again, while there isn’t a one-size-fits-all method for meal planning, there are a couple steps to consider when you do:

Dedicate planning time

Kick-start your meal planning journey by setting aside a specific time, usually a few hours, each week. While most people tend to pick Sunday afternoons, feel free to pick a day that fits with your schedule.

Decide how many meals to make

Are you prepping breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Or are you just planning for one meal each day—like planning lunch so you don’t have to worry about scrambling to make something the night before?

Find recipe inspiration

It’s time to put those cooking creativity wheels in motion. Delve into your favorite cookbooks, scour Pinterest boards, or explore trusted cooking websites for tantalizing recipe ideas. It’s also a great time to explore other meals you’ve wanted to try and find budget-friendly ideas!  

You can also download apps like MealPrepPro and Yummly to help you curate a menu and find new recipes. To keep things manageable, aim for recipes that share common ingredients, making your shopping list smaller and easy-to-shop for.

Get your shopping list together

Before you even think about planning your meals, do a quick check in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. What do you already have? What ingredients do you need?

With your recipes in hand, put together a detailed list of all the ingredients you’ll need.

Meal Planning is a budget game-changer

These days, it’s important to have a budget for your financial well-being. And meal planning is a great way to help you do that.

No more food waste

Ever found a bag of wilted lettuce in the back of your fridge? By planning head of time, you’ll be using your produce and ingredients before they transform into “garbage pile” ingredients. This means you’ll be saving both food and money!

Master the art of strategic shopping

Armed with a detailed shopping list, you’ll be less likely to fall victim to impulse buying. Say goodbye to those sneaky extra items that tend to inflate your grocery bill.

Celebrate economical ingredients

By strategically planning your meals, you’re in a prime position to take advantage of cost-effective ingredients, seasonal produce, and even sale items. Don’t forget to check your local store’s weekly coupons to see what you can save on.

Embrace the power of bulk buying

With your meals thoughtfully planned out, you can also enjoy the art of bulk buying. Not only does this approach make sense for your wallet, but it also equals fewer trips to the store and less temptation to splurge. Especially when it comes to non-perishable items, you can stock up on ingredients that can be used for more than just a week.

No more dining out

As your meal planning increases, you’ll see a decrease in the need to dine out. With more meals planned at home you’ll be saving a lot more if you can just make that steak at home.

Time to get planning!

Whether you’re a kitchen novice or a seasoned pro, embrace the art of meal planning. Your bank account and taste buds both thank you. It’s a treat for both your palate and your pocket.  

Speaking of pockets, if you need help managing your debt, contact Farber today and we’ll help you take back control of your finances.