Meal planning has been getting a lot of attention in the Blogosphere, and it isn’t hard to understand why. If you are willing to put in the effort, planning and preparing your meals for the week in advance will save you time and keep you on track with healthy eating. There are many factors that go into successful meal planning, from shopping effectively to reducing food waste. Here are some tips from your favorite health club, Spunk Fitness:

Pick the right strategy for you

You may find that certain strategies work better for you than others. For example, some people prefer to plan every meal out for a month in advance. Others prefer to be a bit more spontaneous and plan their meals only two or three days ahead of time. It really depends on your own personal preference. If you would rather spend several hours on the weekend cooking and not have to prepare anything during the week, you may try cooking in big batches and freezing some meals. If you like to cook more often, you may try cooking dinner each night and leaving enough leftovers for lunch the next day.

Organize your shopping list

A great way to ensure that you save time on your meal planning is to keep an organized shopping list. Always have a grocery list on hand of your basic essentials, then add ingredients for specific meals onto it each week. You may also save time by organizing your shopping list according to the layout of your go-to grocery store (i.e. listing all produce together, all meat together, etc.).

Pick recipes strategically

A great way to both reduce waste and get the most out of your meal planning is to strategically pick recipes that use the same ingredients. Some people choose to pick a protein for the week and use it in several meals. For example, they may buy chicken and use it for tacos one day and a salad the next. This ensures that you not only save money, but you aren’t wasting food. Additionally, if you are just starting out meal planning, you may want to go with meals that you know you enjoy. Don’t go too crazy and try a bunch of new recipes that may or may not be successful because it may make you frustrated and give up. Stick with five or six standbys until you have gotten the hang of the right schedule for you.

Start with perishables

It is a good idea to buy a mix of fresh and frozen produce to ensure that you do not waste food. Start by using the perishable things earlier in the week so that they don’t go bad before you get to eat them. Having frozen vegetables around ensures that you have veggies on hand once your fresh produce runs out.

Grade your meals

With each new meal, decide how much you enjoyed this meal. This way, you can compose a list of all the best meals you had and keep them in rotation to save time on future meal planning. Within a few weeks, you should have a good list from which you can pick your meals for the week.

Now that you know the secrets of meal planning, you are ready to jumpstart your journey to better health! Come into our health club and get started today.