Cooking meals for the week, especially if you need to feed an entire family, can be a large source of stress. Eating balanced homemade meals not only will improve your energy levels, but will also ultimately help you save time and money!
Starting off the week without a plan often leads to grocery shopping over 3 times a week or even daily after work!
It is essential before planning out your week to set a realistic goal regarding how many meals you want to prepare and how often. Setting realistic expectations for yourself will help reduce stress and improve the likelihood you will follow through with your meal plan. Make sure to get other household residents (i.e. the kids, your spouse/partner) involved in helping plan out your meals and snack options for the week!
After you have mapped out your week, make a grocery list for the first few meals or the entire week’s.
Figure out the best grocery store to buy your food for the week based on your meal plan. Is a trip to the local famer’s market in order? Or perhaps it’s time your family restocks on bulk food items at a wholesale store like Costco or Bulk Barn.
Wherever you decide to go, here are a few tips saving you time and money:
- Go shopping well-rested and satisfied. If you go on an empty stomach, the risk of making impulse treat food purchases skyrockets!
- Stick to your grocery list. Sticking to the plan and the items on the list keeps you from purchasing unnecessary items or wandering down extra aisles.
- Split up the work. Bring your kids or partner with you to tackle opposite ends of the store. Having someone with you will also make carrying and putting away the groceries an easier task.
- Lean towards more whole food items, and less packaged goods. This will optimize the nutrition of your meals and save you money otherwise spent on pricey pre-prepared foods.
It often is more realistic to allot time on separate days for the purchasing of groceries and the preparing of meals. Find out if it would work for you to batch cook a few meals right after purchasing the groceries. Or maybe it would work better with your schedule to, after putting away the groceries, prep snacks and cut vegetables for the week instead of cooking everything right away.
There are many types of meal prepping styles, so figure out which type or combination of types works best for your family:
- Slow cooker meals
- Oven-based meals
- Stovetop meals
- Make-shift meals (e.g. tuna or egg salad sandwiches)
By Susan Sommerville – Registered Nutritionist/Dietitian