Meal planning can be a fun activity once you do it a few times. You get better at finding new recipe ideas, picking the right quantity of food to prepare, and sticking to your food budget.
The beginning is usually the hardest so below are some meal planning ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to help you get started
Meal Planning Ideas
Eggs are a great meal to start the day. They are cheap, highly caloric, and healthy.
You can always make scrambled eggs with cheese, tomatoes, ham, or leek. The best of all, you can combine almost anything with the scrambled eggs, and they would still be tasty. So, it is a smart idea to have them in your meal plans and your fridge.
Another highly caloric breakfast is granola, as well as dairies such as milk and yogurt. Just choose your granola mix from the store and mix it with whatever you prefer.
And you can also add some fruits that you found for a good price in the grocery store. Or, if you don’t have any dried fruits in the granola, you can put a mashed banana in it, to make it sweeter. Granola is great for the digestive system so use it in your meal planning.
Don’t forget to include French Toasts in your breakfast meal plan. You can prepare a classic one, with ham and cheese, but you can also buy feta cheese, whenever you find it on sale, and make the toasts with it and tomatoes. They are even healthier and tastier. You can also add basil and olives for some extra flavor.
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Use pasta recipes for your meal planning! One of the best recipes (and easy to prepare) is Spaghetti with Bolognese sauce, whenever the minced meat in the store is on sale.
Get tomato sauce, carrots, garlic, and onion and fry them in a pan. Add whatever you have at home, or whatever you found cheap in the store – cilantro, coriander, parsley, or basil to enrich the taste.
The same goes for Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta. Or, alternatively, you can prepare pasta with vegetables, cheese, or anything left in the fridge.
You don’t need to spend hours preparing sauces. You can just fry the veggies in olive oil and eat them with the pasta.
Or, in just a few minutes more, you can have Vegetarian Lasagna With Spinach and Broccoli. Pasta is one of the most versatile, fulfilling, and cheapest products you can have in your meal plan.
Always have healthy meals on your weekly meal plan. Lentils are always cheap and can be prepared in many ways.
Find a stew recipe that you like, as it can be prepared with various ingredients—for example, Lentils with Sausage Stew.
Tip: Prepare the sausages in a pan, but let them fry in their own fat. Or, you can prepare, White Bean Cassoulet With Pork. Besides the fact that they are pretty easy to make, stews are very healthy to have them in your weekly meal plan. The steps for preparing are the same for half of the stews, while the ingredients for most of them are whatever you have in the fridge.
Potatoes can help you get hundreds of meal planning ideas. Just like pasta, you can prepare potatoes with almost anything. And it will be tasty plus healthy.
Roasted potatoes with garlic, Jersey smash, Potato nachos with black beans, Baked potatoes with eggplant and cheese, or with broccoli and cauliflower…you name it. There are various ways to prepare the potatoes, so it’s a good idea to have them in your meal plans for the week.
Brown rice with chicken or with Traditional Chicken Curry. Brown rice and Beans Burrito. Brown Rice with Turkey and Spinach or Brown Rice mixed with Spiced Lentils.
You can flavor the rice with different spices, whatever you prefer. It is cheap, healthy, tasty, and always more than enough for everybody. That makes the rice meals good leftovers for the next day.
Pizza is always a great idea to have it on your meal plan! Especially if you make it yourself, for the whole family. Only the dough might look challenging to make, but in fact, it is very simple, and you can make a lot at once and freeze it for the next time. Then, pick the favorite ingredients for everyone in the family and make them their favorite pizzas, and have a pizza night on your meal plan.
You can also add seafood to your meal planning once a week. It is a healthy meal, it is easy for cooking, and there are hundreds of recipes on how to prepare it.
One example is Grilled Caesar Salad with Shrimp, or a Seafood chowder, or Stir-fry prawns with peppers and spinach.
Or mix it with whatever you have left – rice, pasta, risotto, or salad. Seafood is best fresh but quite often expensive.
Although frozen seafood is not as good, if you want to shop for food on a low budget, these are some of the compromises you will have to make.
Try to use leftovers from the previous day, only by heating them, or adding something for a better taste. Of course, not everything is good to be served after 24 hours, but some foods are. Having leftovers helps balance your food budget.
Planning your meal and scheduling your recipes will make the cooking easy and will get you more free time throughout the week.
Why Do Meal Planning
Cooking something that doesn’t require master-chef-skills is budget-friendly, and it fits into your busy schedule is a real struggle. And above all that, you still want your meal to be healthy? Well, it is a challenge but not impossible.
When you start planning every meal ahead for the week, it can be quite easy and cheap and tasty and healthy.
Planning meals might seem like a difficult task at first, but as you go along with it, it will become more fun and creative. You will start thinking of new meal planning ideas. The more diverse your weekly meal plan, the happier everyone will be.
And, remember, cooking can turn into a fun, relaxing, and quality time spent with your family. So, start making a plan with the favorite recipes of your family, calculate the prices of the ingredients you need for cooking, and add all that on the weekly meal plan.
How to Meal Plan on a Budget
Learning how to make a meal planner is a useful life skill.
First, think of inexpensive ingredients such as rice, beans, lentils, pasta, and potatoes for your meal plan. These are the basics, and there are hundreds of ways to juggle them with sauces, salads, vegetables, and meat.
Second, sit down and write meal plans. Meal planning is like brainstorming. Think of all the recipes you like and enjoy. Check what’s on promotion in your grocery store, and plan the recipes you will cook for each day of the week. Very soon, you will start coming up with new cooking ideas and accept more challenging recipes.
Plus, with planned meals, you can calculate almost all the costs for ingredients ahead. You can even set a budget limit and stick to the ingredients you can get.
For example, if you and your family include meat in your diet, it is essential to have a meat meal a few times in the week. Adapt your meal planning according to the promotions at your grocery store. Whenever they have the meat you prefer for a lower price, prepare a meal with meat.
Make sure you will use the ingredients that you already have at home before buying something. If you have no idea how to mix them, check recipes on the internet.
Whenever you find vegetables on sale, buy them. It is always a good idea to add fresh food to your meal. There are many recipes about how you can prepare vegetables. You just need to pick one that is easy and saves you time.
One example is avocados. Avocados are trendy, and quite often expensive, but if you have the opportunity to find them on sale, buy a few. You can use them as a dip on a loaf of toasted bread in the morning or make guacamole for the whole family in the evening, or just put them in any salad. They are healthy, highly caloric, and tasty.
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