15 meal planning tips from a registered dietitian
Meal planning tips from the experts
We’ve gone over the basics of meal prepping, and now it’s time to take it to the next level. We asked our registered dietitian friends at Revive Wellness to share their top meal planning tips so you can save time and money, and eat balanced, nutritious meals in 2021.
Make it a date
Our number one secret to meal planning is to book a 10-20-minute appointment with yourself to plan your menu for the week. This sounds easy and simple but believe us, it works! Treat this like an appointment, as in it must happen. This appointment can give you two to four hours of time back in your week, which equals out to 40% savings! Menu planning can also help you eat out less, reduce food waste, save gas and money with less trips to the store and take advantage of sales, coupons and promotions.
This appointment allows you to not just plan out your meals for the week, but gives you the chance to:
- Take an inventory of what you already have that can be used, which reduces your food waste.
- Assess the best time to shop and meal prep for the week. You don’t want to go to the store hungry or rushed.
- Make sure to bring your list! According to KSU Research and Extensions, the average shopper spends 40% more on impulse purchases when shopping without a list.
Plan to save
In your meal planning appointment, use coupons and programs like Flipp to compare prices and see where some of your more expensive items may be on sale¾ think meat, produce and any other big purchases for the week. Other ways you can save money include:
- Check for member incentives: Stores often offer weekly deals or loyalty programs. Superstore and Save-On have deals that you can load to your membership card.
- Ask stores if they price match: A simple question can add up to big savings.
- Use rebate programs: Websites like Checkout 51 allow you to compare brands that may be on special to receive cash back after purchase. Make sure to compare generic brands as these still may be cheaper!
- Buy in bulk or check the discount bins: Look for family sized items so you can portion them yourself and freeze for later.
- Use what you have: Plan new recipes around the ingredients you already have so you’re not buying ingredients you will only use once or twice.
- Shop in season: Buy vegetables and fruit around the seasons or use frozen or canned.
- Buy what you need: Only buy fruits and vegetables that are on your meal plan versus stocking the fridge, as fruits and vegetables are more expensive and have a limited shelf life.
- Go lean: Lean cuts of meat are typically better priced, but they may need to marinade or cook with liquid to tenderize.
- Compare unit prices: Check grocery store tags for cost per unit. It’s usually in the bottom right-hand corner in small print.
Reflect and repeat
During your planning appointment, take time to reflect on the past week before you start your next plan:
- What worked last week? Two thumbs up from the family?
- What did not work? Two thumbs down from the family?
- What would I do differently?
- Did you set realistic or unrealistic expectations for yourself?
- Did you stay on budget?
The key with menu planning and budgeting is to keep learning from each week. The more you do it the better you get.
Now that you’ve got the tips from the pro, book that appointment with yourself and get planning! If you prefer, take a look at our monthly meal plans where we share five healthy recipes and grocery lists to help you plan out your week.