Plan ahead for healthy and affordable meals

Many people think eating healthy food takes more time and money. Planning ahead can help.

Busy families often find it difficult to get everything done and still provide healthy meals and snacks. A little preparation ahead of time, however, can make a big difference both on the plate and in the pocketbook. When families plan ahead and shop carefully, healthy food can be quick and economical. There are many ways that families can make their dollar go further and still provide healthy meals. Planning ahead of time is one of the best strategies for shopping to save money and eat healthy. When you make an effort to plan ahead it can reduce the amount of extra trips to the grocery store and and prevent purchase of items that are not needed. Here are some tips for planning ahead:

  • Make a list of the foods you already have on hand and then use it to plan your meals. Check the newspaper for grocery store ads in your area for the biggest sales.
  • Choose a main dish. Then add foods from other food groups to go with it.
  • Plan your meals for the week, cook over the weekend and freeze food for meals during the week.
  • Keep basic foods in your kitchen such as low-fat milk, eggs, whole grain bread, canned beans, brown rice, potatoes, onions and frozen vegetables.
  • Visit the farmer’s market for locally-grown fruits and veggies when in season. These can be less expensive and also supports local farmers. Many farmer markets will now accept Bridge cards and WIC.
  • Plan to use leftovers as part of other meals within a day or two.
  • Freeze leftovers to use them much later. Fixing meals once and eating them twice is a great time saver.
  • Buy ingredients that can be used in many meals and snacks.

Making the extra effort to plan ahead of time can save you time and money. Practice helps too. As you gain more experience in planning ahead, you may find that it takes you less time and saves you even more. For more information about what to include in a healthy lifestyle visit MyPlate or contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.

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