One of the best time-savers we can incorporate is weekly or even bi-weekly meal planning. This doesn’t necessarily mean you will only make one shopping trip; that’s a challenge when you are trying to base your meals on fresh, wholesome foods. (Although if your area has access to Community Supported Agriculture with a home delivery service it is certainly possible.)
What we’re really talking about is sitting down and making a list of the meals you will be preparing over a given period of time, and listing those ingredients needed to make those meals. Few things are more frustrating than getting halfway through making dinner only to realize you’re missing a key ingredient to the recipe!
Not only is it convenient to do so, but in the end you’ll waste less food (and money) if you only buy those items you need for the meals you’re planning. With very few exceptions—when grass-fed ground beef is on special and you can stock up and freeze, go for it!—most impulse buys are better left at the store.
When you’re deciding on the upcoming meals you’ll be making, consider these things:
1. Choose meals with ingredients that are in season. For example, don’t count on finding sweet, fresh organic berries in the middle of winter.
2. Think about your family’s schedule. A crock pot meal for the night when you and your kids return from soccer practice at dinner time is a perfect choice. Weekend meals may be more suited to recipes that take more time (roast beef or chicken) but yield leftovers for packed lunches or another dinner. Work/school day breakfasts may be rushed and may even need to be partially prepared in advance. Choose menus accordingly.
3. Carefully read all the recipes you’ll be using and check your pantry/freezer to be sure you have everything you’ll need. Also take into account those items you’ll need for multiple meals like eggs, quinoa, salad greens etc. and plan to get enough to last till your next trip to the store.
Lastly, as we all know, don’t shop hungry! Go to the market with a full tummy and a comprehensive list and you’ll save time, money and additional trips to the store!