The first step in reducing your food waste is to create a meal plan every week. Meal planning can save time and money, help you to eat healthier, and reduce your food waste. Meal planning is a great way to feel organized at the start of the week. I like to begin the process Friday night by planning a week’s worth of meals. Saturday is my shopping day and I meal prep on Sunday. Continue reading to learn more about how to meal plan.
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How to Meal Plan
1. Check Your Schedule
Start by taking a look at your schedule. I find that some days are busier than others and I try to plan quicker meals on those days. Go ahead and add in a couple of your favorite meals throughout the week. We all have favorite meals that we like to eat over and over again. Often you will already have those ingredients on hand. If you have plans to eat out over the next week add in those meals as well. I also like to check the weather. If I know a particular day is going to be cold and rainy I like to have soup for dinner. Take a look at how many meals are remaining. You will probably find that you already have half a week’s worth of meals planned.
2. Shop Your Refrigerator and Pantry First
Keep your refrigerator and pantry organized. Remember out of sight out of mind. What ingredients do you already have that need to be used up in the next week? Find a recipe that uses those ingredients and add anything you are missing to your shopping list. I like to make my shopping trip easier by grouping my shopping list by the different departments in the grocery store.
3. Start With Some Building Block Recipes
Choose a few basic recipes that you can incorporate into meals several times in the next week. For example, I will roast a whole chicken on Sunday and then use the bones to make chicken broth and use the leftover meat and that broth to make chicken pot pie later in the week. Or saute some vegetables that can be used as a side one night and in soup another night. This will allow you to save time by doing some of your cooking beforehand. You will also save money by buying ingredients in bulk that you know you will be using multiple times throughout the week.
4. Use Perishable Items Early in the Week
Certain items spoil faster than others. Plan to use items like seafood, fruit, and meat earlier in the week. Save hardier items like pasta, dairy, and vegetables like kale and potatoes for later in the week. Also, don’t forget about frozen produce. Frozen produce has a much longer shelf life than fresh but the same nutritional value. Buy smaller amounts of fresh produce to use earlier in the week and save frozen produce for the end of the week.
5. Know Exactly How Much of an Item You Need
Check recipes and include quantities on your shopping list so that you know exactly how much you need to buy.
6. Try Batch Cooking
Many items can be cooked in larger batches and frozen. Then later, when you need a quick and easy meal, simply defrost, heat, and enjoy. If you are at the store and see a really good deal or want to buy in bulk. Look for items that can be used in larger batch recipes.
- Baked Ziti with Sausage – Once Upon A Chef
- Meatloaf Recipe with the Best Glaze – Natasha’s Kitchen
- Slow Cooker Beef Stew – Dinner at the Zoo
7. Write It All Down
I don’t know about you but I hate being constantly asked what’s for dinner? Once I have my meal plan figured out I write it all down on this dry erase calendar that lives on our refrigerator. That way everyone in our family knows what’s for dinner every night. It also serves as a quick reference guide for me to make sure I get the right ingredients out of the freezer to defrost.
Now that you have created your meal plan, go here to learn how to stick to it.
Part 1 – Food Waste: What is Food Waste?
Part 2 – Food Waste: Reducing Food Waste
Part 4 – Food Waste: Mindful Shopping
Part 5 – Food Waste: Food Storage
Part 6 – Food Waste: Using Food Scraps
Part 7 – Food Waste: Composting
Part 8 – Food Waste: Waste Reduction Programs