Are you making these common meal planning mistakes? Find out what to stop doing so you can win at meal planning, save money, and waste less food.
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Meal Planning Mistakes You Need to Avoid
Meal planning is both an art and a science.
And we all make mistakes!
Here are some common mistakes people make when they meal plan.
Be sure to check out the tips and solutions at the bottom of this article to help you win at meal planning.
- Your plan is too ambitious – If you plan to make elaborate meals each night, you’re going to burn out.
- You don’t factor in eating out – Sure, it would be nice to eat only cooked-from-scratch meals from home, but when you’re busy, tired, or overwhelmed, it’s not realistic.
- You don’t have any quick and easy meals in your meal plan.
- You don’t realize how long meal prep will take, and you end up spending way more time in the kitchen than you wanted to.
- You forget to include side dishes in your plan.
- You don’t prep a few ingredients ahead of time.
- You buy too much food at once and it goes bad.
- You don’t factor in eating leftovers.
- You don’t stockpile backup meals in your freezer.
- You don’t have a list of ready-to-eat meal ideas you can pick up at the grocery store last minute.
Tips for Winning at Meal Planning
- If you’re just starting out with meal planning, keep things simple. The aim is to build a meal planning habit, so make a super do-able plan you can stick to.
- Plan to eat out! Especially if that’s what you normally do. Even if you replace one or two restaurant meals with something you make at home, you’ll be saving money. Budget for reality, not fantasy.
- Have a list of 5-6 meals you can whip up in just a couple of minutes when you’re in a pinch.
- Plan to prepare new recipes on nights where you know you’ll have more time. That way you won’t be surprised if a recipe is more labor-intensive than you thought it would be.
- Have a couple of simple side dishes ready to go. Frozen veggies, canned baked beans, rolls, or pre-made salad bags are all good options for quick side dishes.
- If you know you’re going to need to chop some of your produce, do it ahead of time. That way it’s ready to go when you need it during the week.
- Eat your perishable ingredients first. Create a meal plan where you’ll use your fresh produce in the first few days. That way things won’t go bad and if you end up not needing some of the meals you planned for later in the week, you can save them!
- Plan one meal a week for eating up leftovers. It’s easy and it saves money!
- Keep a few easy meals or casseroles in your freezer for days when you don’t feel like cooking, but want something homemade.
- Make a list of a few easy meals you could pick up at the grocery store last minute. Things like rotisserie chickens, ready-made sandwiches, or a tray of enchiladas are ready to go, and they’re a lot less expensive than buying something from a restaurant.
More Resources for Meal Planning and Meal Prep
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