Start with the refrigerator/pantry – meal planning doesn’t have to be expensive. Take stock of what you already have at home and begin to build your grocery list.  For example, if you have leftover tortillas from Taco Tuesday last week, they can be utilized in a breakfast burrito for this week.  Americans throw out over 1 lb of food per person per day, use your creative side or helpful websites like https://www.bigoven.com/recipes/leftover  You type in three things you have and it will give you ideas of what to make

 

Think about the barriers to having healthy meals on the table

  • Deciding what to have: have everyone in your family pick 1 meal for next week that they would like to eat. Have you kids write out the grocery list to practice handwriting and spelling.  Have you spouse pick a new recipe that sound good to them

 

  • Getting to the grocery store:
    • try pick up from any local store – Walmart is always free pick up and most other stores are free if you are spending more than $50. This is also a great way to not impulse buy foods that are not on the list as well as saving time.
    • Most kids 8-12 love to grocery shop if you make it a game. Have them get the shredded carrots while you pick out fruit.  Send them to get a jar of pasta sauce while you are picking up the taco ingredients in the international aisle.  This promotes reading with comprehension as well as general shopping techniques – all skills they are going to need as an adult
  • Cooking when you get home after a long day of work: set aside a few hours to prep foods as much as possible for the upcoming week. This is a great place to get your family involved as well.
    • Cut up fruits and vegetables to quickly add to recipes and lunches
    • Marinate meats or mix up meatballs/meatloaf
    • Make a sauce or salad dressing for a meal later in the week
    • Completely prep a casserole and refrigerate to pull out when you get home and pop in the oven.
    • Grill a variety of meats/veggies on Sunday to be used in salads and sandwiches throughout the week for lunch

 

Choose recipes that work for you – if you like to cook, consider trying a new meal this week (like the recipe provided in this week and every week of your challenge **hint hint**).  If you don’t like to cook but have stand by staples that everyone in your house likes, stick to those.   If you’re brand new to cooking, talk to your dietitian for where to start with basic recipes.

 

Start a vacation fund with the money you save on eating out – if you’re motivated by money or really wanting to take a great vacation next year, this could be an added bonus to eating healthier at home.

 

  • The average American spends $232 per month eating out and eats 18.2 meals outside of their home. That’s $12.75/meal – which could go up exponentially depending on where you are eating.  The average meal cooked at home costs $4/meal – again this could be a lot more expensive per portion depending on what you are cooking, but you can probably make 3 meals at home for the cost of your average entrée out depending on your food budget.
  • Take stock of what your eating out budget really is – your bank statements often put a pie graph delineating where you spend your money. This can put into perspective how things like those small stops for coffee really add up.
    • If you’re interested, a medium cup of coffee from Starbucks cost $2.45, a steal compared to a PSL which will run you $5.54 for the same size.
    • A cup of coffee brewed at home from ground Starbucks brand coffee is $0.16-$0.18 per cup + $2.29 for a bottle of pumpkin spice creamer, which has 32 servings.
    • Financial reports show that you can easily save over $500 per year just by brewing coffee at home, and if you’re more of a latte lover, over $1000. And that is for just 1 cup of coffee every day you work.