I have a hard time planning meals and making a shopping list because what I've planned for may turn out to be too expensive, or I unexpectedly find another (healthy!) option that sounds better than what I planned. However, mindless wandering ends in disaster! Instead, I let myself wander the perimeter of the store, where even impulse buys will be healthy, but make a specific list for items I need from the center aisles. It gives my more freedom when I shop, but still keeps me from buying cookies!!
Use 1lb ground meat and lots of veggies to make 4 different meals! Add bulk with lots of different veggies (shredded or chopped). You get up to 4 servings per meal (approx. 12-16 servings). I stretch meat and save money too. I do the same with boneless chicken breast and boneless pork. Some weeks I get 12-14 individual meals that I would add different side dishes, salads or more veggies too! All my lunch & dinner entrées for the week done!!
After much research, I'm loving the recipe management app "Paprika". It lets me capture recipes from sparkrecipes as well as many other recipe sites & my own personal recipes! With all my recipes in one place, I can build the week's meal plan & hit a button for a grocery list. The big plus for ME is that I can have everything offline, since I'm not always on wifi to use sparkrecipes. It costs $20 for MAC, $5 for iPad, $5 for iPhone or iPod and uses a cloud to sync everything together. Awesome!
Something I realized I needed to do in order to be successful was to prelog my food for the whole day, preferably at breakfast and sometimes in bed before I get up.
This is a great money-saving move! Pick one day per month (or week) to clean out the pantry/fridge/freezer. Go over what you have and get creative to make something from it. Make soup, casserole, stir fry, whatever you can think of. If you can stretch it to a week, more power to you! It prevents older food from going to waste and saves you from a grocery run for one more day.
Each night when I clean up after dinner, I make sure that I have things underway for the next night's dinner. I make sure that I know what I am planning to make and I double check that I have all ingredients. If something needs to be taken out and defrosted, I get that done.
I have a hard time eating fruits and veggies, so I try to eat them first at each meal, before I fill up on carbs & protein. Or I'll have a piece of fruit while I'm cooking/preparing my main meal. Not only do I make sure I get my freggies, I usually end up eating less during the meal because I already have something in my tummy.
I was buying food at work, but it was expensive and not as healthy as what I pack for myself. Now I fix my lunches on the weekend and just grab and go in the morning. Besides losing wt I have found that I save money too!
Plan out the meals that you are going to make for the week. Figure out what you have on hand or what is on sale at the stores for the week, search through Sparkrecipes, your Spark Cookbook or other healthy recipe books and sites. Find the recipes and enter them into your meal planner for the week.
Flylady.net is a wonderful site to help you organized everything from your home to your office/desk at work, even your finances. She really seems to understand that unorganized people have similar problems, like wanting to take on too much at once and getting stalled, that you lose your bills, forget lots of things. It's a great and free site.
I find that if I miss my snacks between meals, I am much more likely to over eat later or grab something bad for me! Having healthy snacks to grab on a busy schedule can be tough. I keep a stash of health 100 calorie or less snacks, pre-portioned in my car (if you live in temperature extremes pack items that won't spoil or freeze), at work, and 1-2 portions in my purse. I have no excuse to eat poorly on-the-go foods or binge later!
Panning your meals in advance is a success, and this tip will help you one step further. I like to buy the family packs of meat and the separate them into meal appropriate portions. It's extremely economical. Before freezing, season your meat with whatever seasonings and/or marinade. As the meat thaws out they will marinate as well and you can have so many meals prepared in advance this way. It also saves you time because you are doing all the seasoning at once.
I created a grocery list form that has columns to list items that are grouped together in different parts of the grocery store (dry goods,meats,produce,frozen foods,cleaning supplies,pharmacy,other). Add items as you think of them. Menus on other side. When shopping menus can be updated as needed.
Make a list of all of your favorite dinners and put the approximate calorie total per serving next to each meal. Then have that list handy to refer to when you're deciding what to cook tonight. (Or write the calories per serving on the recipe.)
I typically plan my meals on the weekend for the coming week before going to the grocery store. When I looked at the food I already had in the freezer and pantry, I realized that I didn't need to go to the store. I have plenty for the week. "Shopping" what you already have saves money!
Every Saturday night, I make my husband sit down with me and create a 'Dinner Menu' for the week. I make dinners according to the schedule and we're never sitting there wondering 'What'd you want for dinner???' I allow myself one night off from cooking dinner. I call it 'WHATEVER WEDNESDAY!"
Having one day a week that is dedicated to household chores includes precooking for the next few days. I love preparing several main courses~meatloaf, buffalo burgers, chicken veggie patties, etc. When doing this I know the whole family is taken care of, and I wont be tempted to be unhealthy. :o)
I list the contents of my freezer and post the list on the fridge door. Helps me in meal planning to use what I've already bought - I waste less food this way and save money. I tend to be an out-of-sight-out-of-mind person so seeing a list helps me not 'lose' stuff in the freezer!
Instead of planning my menus and then going shopping, I check the store ads. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts on sale? That'll make some meals this week. Grapes and bananas down in price? Chalk them up for fruit choices! Healthy eating can work fine in a budget.