Meal Planning

Do you plan your meals before grocery shopping? Meal planning helps you save time, money and extra trips to the grocery store. It also helps you stick to your food budget and helps you buy only what you need for the week.

  1. Decide how many meals you’ll need for the week. Think about when you’re going to go shopping next. Schedule meals for each day before you plan to shop next so you don’t run out of options.
  2. Check your fridge and pantry for ingredients. There’s no need to buy foods you already have.
  3. Look for sales. Is chicken on sale at your grocery store this week? Plan meals around sale foods. Stock up on sale items to save money.
  4. Pick your recipes. Think about what you already have in your kitchen, the items on sale, and what you want to cook during the week. Think about how you can use all of these ingredients to make something delicious for your family. Use MyPlate as a guide to creating a meal with all the different food groups.
  5. Figure out which meal you’ll eat each day. Items that will spoil quickly, like fish or fresh produce, should be eaten earlier in the week. It’s also important to consider your family’s schedule for the week. Are there days that require quicker meals than others? If so, plan quick and easy meals on your busiest days and save the more time-consuming ones for slower days.
  6. What other foods do you need? Side dishes and snacks should also go on your plan. Think about things that will pair well with your main dishes and plan to buy those. If you know you get hungry around 10 a.m. every day, plan to get grab-and-go snacks that will tide you over.
  7. Create your grocery list. After you’ve figured out your meal plan, put a list together of all the items you need at the store. Make sure you bring this list to the store with you! Sticking to your list while you shop will help you avoid buying items you don’t need.

Start planning your meals and your grocery list now. Use our weekly shopping planner below to help you stay organized.