Learning the Art of Meal-Planning
navigating the grocery store is step one ...
Navigating the grocery store on a budget can be overwhelming. With it comes learning how to cook, meal plan, and grocery shop. Luckily there are many ways to prepare.
Don’t make grocery shopping and cooking a chore. Make it fun by browsing the aisles and trying something new.
Start easy and then progress as you go. “Try to think of a few go-to recipes that you already know how to make, like spaghetti or tacos, and have a basic meal plan that you’re comfortable with,” said Mealtime Mentor Casey Crevier.
Crevier, a nutrition communication specialist for Festival Foods, runs a mealtime inspiration blog with several other dietitians in the area. The site provides creative ideas such as recipes for only $10, one-pot meals, and even meals for dairy-free and gluten-free diets.
The Festival Mealtime Mentors site was created to answer the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?” Their mission is to provide new recipe ideas and promote healthy cooking. It also serves as a great resource for those learning to cook and grocery shop on their own.
Before grocery shopping, Crevier recommends having a game plan. Plan out your meals and make a list of what you already have, what you want to make, and what you will need. This initial time investment may seem counterintuitive, but it will ultimately save you time and money.
If you’re shopping on a budget, check out local ads online or at the store, and plan your meals based on what’s on sale. Don’t forget to check out the bulk section, where you can choose your portion to try new foods and reduce food waste.
Also, don’t be afraid to try different types of produce. All forms matter, including fresh, frozen, canned, and 100 percent juice. Some are less expensive and last longer, and all count toward your daily fruit and vegetable intake. Frozen veggies make an easy side dish to any dinner.
If you’re looking to save time, make large batches while cooking and freeze leftovers in individual portion sizes. One easy way to save time, Crevier said, is freezing portions and popping them in the microwave when you need a quick and healthy dinner.
While shopping, pick most of your items from the perimeter of the store, where fresh foods are found. However, don’t be afraid to stock up on bulk and canned items such as brown rice, canned beans, nuts, and tuna, for added protein and fiber.
Don’t make grocery shopping and cooking a chore. Make it fun by browsing the aisles and trying something new. There are so many flavors and cuisines to choose from! Make it a goal to try a new dish each week or invite friends over and enjoy preparing and serving a meal together.
Even if you’ve never cooked before or don’t consider yourself a cook, you can develop your skills, try new things, and have fun with it. Maybe even try out one of those healthy and affordable Pinterest recipes. For more mealtime inspiration visit Festival’s blog (www.festfoods.com/mealtime-mentors) or ask a local dietitian.
Samantha Angell is graduate student at UW-Stout, where she is studying for her master’s degree in food and nutrition sciences.