Sometimes the hardest part to anything is getting started. For me and exercising, I find that once I put my exercise clothes on, I’m 100% more likely to go out. Likewise, with meal planning, settling on something to start with for the week helps to get the ball rolling. Here are some strategies I’ve used that you may want to try for planning your meals for the week!
1. Shop Local
We’re approaching the time of year when a Saturday morning trip to the Farmer’s Market becomes the perfect way to start a meal plan. When the Farmer’s Markets are a little less exciting, I’ll replace this with a short trip to one of the more gourmet grocery stores instead. 1/2 a bushel of fresh fava beans available? Time to find a recipe for fava beans. Six zucchini for $2? Time to plan some meals featuring zucchini. Fancy pancy cheese half price? Time to find a recipe to use up some inexpensive but super tasty cheese.
2. Shop Flyers
There is little sense in planning four beef dishes in a week if you have no beef and beef is not on sale anywhere, at least if you would prefer not to spend a tonne on groceries for the week! Perusing the flyers and planning your meals around the most inexpensive proteins for the week will help you stay on budget and give you a starting point to choose meals from.
3. Don’t Shop at All
Creating an inventory from what you have on hand can inspire meals using items on hand. There’s also nothing quite like freeing up space in the freezer by working your way through items your past self thought worth saving. From frozen meat and vegetables, to pantry items, to fresh items on their way out, there is often a lot of food to work from in your own home once you go looking for it.
4. Work With a Theme
Start with setting aside one day for a meatless meal (Hello, Meatless Monday’s!), one for chicken, one for beef, one for pasta, one for pasta, one for something egg-based, one for a slow-cooker meal, one for dinner out, one for tacos (that one’s for my sister!), etc.. I use this strategy most regularly in conjunction with the others.
5. Peruse Other Meal Plans
Whether they are my own (harmless, self-promotion here: http://eatingtheinternet.ca/category/meal-plans/), from a favourite cooking site (one of my favourites is: http://www.skinnytaste.com/meal-plans/), or maybe even a bank of your own standards, there’s no sense in reinventing the wheel. Even if you don’t end up following what someone else has created 100%, use it for inspiration!
What strategies do you use when meal planning? Perhaps try something new, and let me know how it goes!