You don’t have to do it all yourself! Delegate portions of meal preparation. People who are involved in the preparation of the meal are more appreciative of it. Even children who are 6 or older can do something. With this point, be careful to watch your expectations - know that everyone is doing their best, and relax about whether they would do it the way you would. Involve everyone in the household in the planning. Post the weekly menu and generate your grocery list from this plan.
• Before your grocery store trip, plan your meals for the week. This will help save you money by only buying things that you need, save you time in the grocery store, and will help you avoid impulse buys. Not to mention, doing this will also save you time throughout the week when you are
trying to decide what to make! Also, when you are planning your meals, take a look at what you already have in the pantry and fridge/freezer—this will help save money by using up things that you already have so that they don’t go to waste.
• You should also plan for one easy “extra” meal just in case something goes wrong with one of the meals you have on your menu (e.g., omelettes, etc.).
• Limit yourself to grocery shopping once a week. That’s right - you don’t have time to be running to the store every day! Every time you go to the store, especially if you are hungry or don’t have a list, you run a greater risk of buying impulse items.
• When cooking staples such as meat, vegetables, pasta, or rice, make extra. The leftovers can be used in fried rice, pasta dishes, casseroles, soups, or egg dishes. Cooking with leftovers, or just plain serving up leftovers is a more efficient use of your groceries, money, time, and space.
• Egg dishes make healthy, easy meals... omelettes, frittatas, scrambles, quiche...need I say more?
• Crock Pots are a blessing! Just be sure to use healthy ingredients. You can put just about any kind of protein on a bed of vegetables with a few herbs, (no water!) and let the crockpot go.
• Use salsa instead of pasta sauce for single-serving items when you don’t want to make a batch of sauce or open a whole jar.
• Keep stock frozen in ice cube trays for single-serve use in stir-fries, sauces, etc.
• Once a month, cook a big batch of grain – rice, quinoa, amaranth, barley – portion it and freeze it. This goes a long way when you are completing meals on the run. It also keeps you from resorting to items of lesser nutritional quality on a regular basis (think pita, bread, wraps, etc.).
• Pick one day of the week and commit to prepping for the week for 3 or 4 hours. Keith from the Quispamsis clinic is fond of saying “Prep for a day, eat for a week!” and it’s so true. It may feel like you are spending a lot of time prepping, but think of all the time that you are saving during the week. Those folks that “don’t have time to eat right” aren’t taking the time to properly prep for success. Even if you only have time to cut your veggies or make your protein, anything helps for the busy week ahead.
• Try taking your groceries home and abiding by this rule: put very little in the fridge/cupboard/freezer in bulk. Buying in bulk can save money, but you should portion out the items that you buy in bulk! This means items like oatmeal, frozen berries, tubs of hummus, bags of nuts, etc. – anything that you think would help in your week. This does take some time and it can monotonous work, but you’ll be so thankful for the entire duration that the portions last – it makes you feel like you’re on top of things and you’ve got your food under control.
• Cook a batch or two of your meat for the week, portion it, and freeze it in individual portion sizes (or family portions, or whatever works for your situation).
• When you buy produce, especially if it is not organic, wash them ahead of time. This will save you time throughout the week, and you can just grab them and not worry about them not being clean. Also, try to portion out your produce as well—you’ll be able to grab and go!
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