Meal Planning Tips | Kentucky Nutrition Education Program

Plan Ahead

Top Healthy Meal Planning Tips

Try these meal planning tips to get you started.

Eating together around the table is a great way for busy families to connect with one another – and planning out healthy meals ahead of time is a great way to make that happen. Make mealtime easier by planning a weekly menu of your meals. Post your weekly meal plan in a place where everyone can see it – the refrigerator door is always a good spot.

If you’re new to meal planning, start small and work up to more. Try these tips to get you started.

Think about your schedule. Choose meals you can easily prepare when you don’t have a lot of time. Save recipes that take longer for days off. Start the week off by preparing meals so they are ready to go throughout the busy week ahead.

Need recipe inspiration? Check out these recipes.

Use a worksheet to plan your meals. The Create a Grocery Game Plan Worksheet is great for planning your week.

Make a grocery list. Start by listing all the ingredients for meals you plan to make. Look in your freezer, cabinets, and refrigerator to see which ingredients you already have. Cross off any ingredients you already have on hand. Don’t forget to include foods like fruits, vegetables, and milk that might not be part of a recipe but are basics for healthy eating. Keep an ongoing grocery list in your kitchen or on a free mobile app and add items as you run out. Some mobile apps allow you to sync grocery lists with others in your household. Read our Top 5 Grocery List Apps. For a free paper template, try the Create a Grocery Game Plan Grocery List.

Prep ahead. After you shop, cut vegetables and measure ingredients in advance for easier meals. Grains like rice or quinoa can be cooked in a large batch and then frozen until needed. When chopping up veggies for a meal, chop more than you need. Take the extra, place in a reusable container and freeze. Then next time you need it, you can skip a step.

Double your recipe. For your next casserole or stew, try doubling the recipe and freezing the extra. You’ll save time and make cooking next week’s dinner a snap!

Cook once… eat all week! Prepare a large batch of favorite recipes on your day off (double or triple the recipe). Freeze in individual containers. Use them throughout the week and you won’t have to spend money on take-out meals.

Allow your family to help.  Divide jobs among family members. Remember — kids love to be in the kitchen! With help, you can get more done and have more time to enjoy with your family.

Plan to use leftovers. Think about larger recipes with enough servings for multiple meals. This can reduce the number of ingredients you need to buy and save you time preparing another meal. Freeze leftover soups, sauces, or gravies in small reusable containers.

Bonus tip! Keeping the “family” in family meals. If it’s too busy in the evening, think about other meals that you could eat together, like a simple weekend brunch or afternoon snack. Make a rule that phones and other devices are not allowed during family meals. This way you can focus on each other!

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