Planning meals saves time and money

Planning menus and making a store list saves time and can lead to healthier meals.

Planning menusFor many people, this time of the year means getting more organized; the beginning of a New Year means organizing financial records for tax preparation, getting rid of clutter and last year’s utility bills, etc. Organization can also help you to eat healthier. Michigan State University Extension encourages you to consider planning meals ahead of time and using a grocery list, as this can save you time, money and provide nutritious food choices available at home. Having a meal planned ahead of time can also help avoid running to a fast food restaurant at the last minute, which can be both costly and high in calories, fat and sodium.

Before making a trip to the grocery store, take a few minutes to look through the kitchen cupboards, refrigerator and freezer to see what’s already on hand. If you have a copy of the store’s weekly ad, you can check for specials on foods you can include in your menu for the week.

Have two sheets of paper; one for your grocery list and one for planning your meals for the week. Write down each day of the week. As you plan your meals for the week, consider the activities you and your family are involved with each day. If you will have an event that requires a late meal or a quick meal before you leave the house, you may want to consider having a meal you can make in the crock pot before leaving home in the morning, such as soup or stew.

As you plan your meals for each day, add the items you will need to purchase from the store to your grocery list. Remember to also add those items that you use regularly such milk, juice, eggs, bread, etc. Also check staples like flour, sugar, oil and condiments such as ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise.

After you make your plan, look it over to see if you have included fruits and vegetables in your meals. Have you included foods from all of the food groups? Did you include high fiber foods such as whole grains?

If you shop at the same store each time, it’s helpful to arrange your list by the order in which the foods are found in the store. For example, you might go to the produce department followed by salad dressings, canned vegetables, canned fruits, etc. This will work best if you only shop at one store most of the time.

Take the time to plan your meals and make a list; you will spend less time and money in the grocery store and will probably also have healthier meals at the same time!

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