Meal planning for health (and savings)

When it comes to dining, sometimes it can seem easier to go out and grab something quick, rather than take the time to cook a meal.  For many, the toughest meal can be lunch. Whether you work in an office environment where ‘going to lunch’ is common, or you simply forgot to pack one- you can end up spending much more money and consuming many more calories than if you had planned ahead. Don’t think you spend that much? Save your lunch receipts for a month, and the final total might surprise you! On average Americans spend nearly $1000 on lunch a year! Imagine what you could spend that money on had you only planned your meals!

Meal planning is not as daunting as you may think. Thanks to technology, there are hundreds of sites and apps to help you get started, such as Food On The Table.

If you are just starting to plan your meals, try planning on a Sunday. That way you are fully prepared for the Mon-Fri hectic workdays. The ‘Food On The Table’ program is a great tool for beginners; upon signing up, the app asks you to complete a questionnaire, which includes listing your favorite ingredients, cooking styles and dietary requirements. From there, the program takes your preferences and pulls from a stockpile of recipes fitting those preferences and delivers a recipe crafted to your specifications. It will also give you an organized shopping list to get in and out of the store in a breeze! Thank you technology!

Your shopping lists will make it easier to stay focused at the grocery store. Don’t be overwhelmed if it seems like you just purchased A LOT of food… because you did (a whole week’s worth!). Once you are home, prep all of your ingredients by each meal and label the days. You can use plastic containers, or you can do whatever works best (bags, covered plates, or fridge-safe bowls). Prepping can include chopping vegetables, separating ingredients and even preparing the entire meal (like a soup) so all you have to do is heat it up! At first it might seem a bit tedious, but just remind yourself that you are being financially smarter and healthier!

Do you have any meal planning tips? Comment below and let us know what works best for you.