Tips and Tricks for Organizing Your Meals
Meal planning doesn’t have to be hard work, especially if you approach it with the right mindset. These tips and tricks will help you organize your meals so that you know what to cook without wasting time and money on unnecessary ingredients. You’ll also save yourself stress by having healthy, delicious meals on hand, ready to eat at any time of the day or night!
Why should I organize my meals?
Did you know that meal planning and meal prep is the number one way to save money? When you know what you’re making ahead of time, and have the ingredients on hand, you’re less likely to pop through the drive-through on the way home from work. Having a plan also saves you money at the grocery store when you stick to the list.
Cutting down on eating out is just one reason why you should organize and prep your meals. Saving time is another reason. It may seem like it takes you more time to prep and shop but imagine an hour or two on Sunday saving you at least 30 minutes each weeknight. Instead of spending your precious energy scanning the cupboards for inspiration and recipes, you’ll know each day what to make as well as have the ingredients on hand.
How do I get started?
Planning your meals in advance is the best way to make sure you have healthy, balanced food on hand at all times. But it can be hard to get into the habit of meal planning. Here are some tips to help you get started!
Choose a plan that works for you. Whether it’s writing out a list of meals you want to cook in advance or using an app like Yummly or Pinterest, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Figure out what system will work best for your lifestyle so that you’ll actually stick to it.
Keep it simple. If you’re not used to making dinner plans ahead of time, start small and slowly build up. Pick two days this week when you know you’ll be home most of the day and take 30 minutes each night after dinner to plan what you’re going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner over the next few days.
Keep it simple, part two. Meal planning doesn’t mean you have to have inspired dishes every night. Cook what you know you like. Plan for simple meals like tacos, spaghetti, and even a frozen pizza!
Do a Pantry Inventory
Most people have some staples on hand, but it can be a good idea to do a pantry inventory. It might feel overwhelming at first, but it’s worth it to make sure you have everything you need. Plus, it may also give you ideas for what you can make with ingredients on hand. Using what you already have also saves you money.
When you have an organized pantry, it will be easier to spot when you’re out of key ingredients. Meal planning becomes even more efficient when you know that the right ingredients are waiting in the pantry. You’ll find that meal planning takes less time because your goal is to use up the food in your pantry instead of coming up with a grocery list from scratch every time.
Establish a Master Grocery List
To get started, create a master grocery list. This will be your go-to list of all the ingredients you need to make all of your meals. You can take this grocery list with you when you’re shopping at the store, which will save you time.
One way to do this is to have a printable blank grocery list, organized by aisles in the store. You can buy printables for as little as $2 on Etsy made just for meal planning and grocery shopping. Each week you can fill in your out-of-stock ingredients, as well as new ingredients for recipes. Having it organized by aisle keeps you efficient when it’s time to shop.
Another option is to use a grocery delivery service such as Instacart. Instacart keeps track of your frequently purchased items to easily add to your cart. You can also set it up for family use, and everyone can add to the cart when they see an ingredient that is out of stock. Add items during the week and pick up or deliver when your cart is “full” or after you’ve planned your meals for the week.
Use a Weekly Menu Planner
Weekly Menu Planners can be a lifesaver when it comes to organizing your meals. They are a great way to plan out a week’s worth of meals, either all at once or over time through the week.
First, consider what type of weekly menu planner will work best for you. Whether it is a sheet on the fridge, an app on your phone, or just something written in a notebook, try different options until you find something that works best for your lifestyle.
Second, create a list of all the recipes that sound good to you before beginning to plan. Then, prioritize the recipes by difficulty level (i.e., easy vs difficult) so you know which ones to tackle first. Finally, start filling in what recipes you’ll want to make each day. Note what ingredients you don’t have and add them to your master list.
Pro-tip: Plan for leftovers and dining out. Plus, keep family favorites, and simple, quick meals in rotation for nights you are busy. Not every dinner needs to be gourmet!
Meal Prep and Batching Meals
A great way to save time during the week is by batching your meals. This means making a large amount of food, usually in one pot, on the weekends so that you can have a few days’ worth of food ready to eat without having to spend much time in the kitchen. One of the most popular ways of doing this is by cooking up a batch of beans or chicken over the weekend. You can then use them as part of dishes throughout the week such as tacos, soups, salads, and curries. Plus, doubling a recipe one night of the week can serve as lunch or leftovers the next day.
Prepping other ingredients such as chopping onions, peppers, or fruit, etc. can also save you time and keep things flowing when you’re cooking. As we mentioned above, spending an hour prepping ingredients for the week can save you more time during your busy weeknights.
Pro tip: If you want to save even more time, buy pre-cut veggies. Note, these are usually more expensive, but the trade-off in time might be worth it.
Local Professional Organizer
Totally Organized is here to help you get organized in the Dallas area with professional home organization services like kitchen and pantry organization. If you’re ready to get organized for better meal prep, we’re here for you!