Early mornings, late nights and packed weekends means there are probably several other things you’d rather spend your free time doing than spending it in the kitchen preparing a week’s worth of meals. Or, if you take the easy road and just eat out every day I’m sure your wallet wouldn’t mind a few home cooked meals. The easiest way to save time—and money—is to plan out your meals for the week before you go shopping. Professional chefs do this and so do restaurants. A little planning in the beginning means that you will: 1. Buy less, and waste less ingredients and 2. Spend less time preparing meals because you will already know what needs to be cooked and what meals can be prepared together.
When trying to plan out meals for the week take a few minutes before you go the store and think about the following questions and answers to ask yourself to help you with planning for the week:
- What dinners can I make and use the leftovers for lunches? The roasted turkey breast recipe I featured this month is a good example. I know leftovers aren’t for everbody, but it’s the easiest way to make two (or more) meals out of one and, for something like roast turkey, with a few extra minutes of preparation you’d never know your lunch was made with leftovers.
- What recipes do I have or can research that use the same common ingredients? Plan to use common vegetables, fruits and proteins that can make fresh simple healthy dinners and then used for sandwiches, soups, salads
- What are some one pan dishes that I can prepare ahead and have ready to pop in the oven when I get home from a busy day at work? Examples would be casseroles, baked pasta dishes (like baked ziti and lasagna), pot roast and roasted chicken with roasted potatoes. If you are going to spend the evening in the kitchen cooking dinner on Sunday take a few extra minutes to prepare a casserole to use later in the week.