Here are six steps for saving time and money in the kitchen:
- Keep a list of the things your family likes to eat. Talk to your family members. What are their favorite main dishes, salads, vegetables, fruits, and desserts? This list can help you plan a menu each week. Keep the master list taped inside a kitchen cupboard or on the refrigerator.
- Set aside some time at the end of the week to plan meals for the coming week. Sit down Thursday or Friday night, or the weekend, and take the next steps.
- Using your favorite food list, write down a main dish for each night. Add side dishes, too, if you like. If you have a busy night, select recipes with few ingredients and use quick-cooking techniques, such as cooking with the microwave, using prepared food items, or one-pot meals.
- Make a list of ingredients and purchase food you need ahead of time. Go shopping on the weekend or late in the previous week.
- Post each week’s menu on the refrigerator. Ask family members to review the menu, and then enlist everyone in preparation and cleanup duties. Assign tasks to children according to their age and capabilities.
- Develop “rolling” menus. Rather than creating an entirely new menu each week, continuously update each menu, i.e., change out one or two meals each week but keep the rest. Save each menu, and before you know it, you will have a significant catalog of weekly menus ready to use throughout the year.
For tips on saving money on groceries, visit the Shop and Save page on the Live Healthy, Live Well website. For a print-and-use tool, download Meal Planning Guide (556 K PDF).