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How to Create a Meal Plan

By Amie Valpone

Creating a meal plan can make your life more efficient. It requires a small time investment that will be much appreciated when your stomach starts growling and asking the famous question, “What’s for dinner?” A meal plan can help you to cut costs and trips to the food store as well as improve your overall nutrition. In a few easy steps, you can create a meal plan that will work for you.

Create a chart, which will give you an organized space to plan your weekly meals and snacks. Set aside time every Sunday to fill in your chart for a fresh start to the week. Begin by planning your dinners for the evenings Monday through Sunday, then work your way up to creating lunch, snacks and breakfast based on your nutritional needs for the day. Search recipe books and websites for meal ideas and inspiration.

Identify ingredients you will need to purchase at the food store for the week's meal plan by creating a list. This will streamline your food shopping by creating a one-stop trip each week. Before heading out to the food store, search online for local specials and clip coupons from magazines and newspapers to help save money.

Make note of the meals you enjoy; search for quick, easy and healthy recipes that interest you; bookmark them and keep them handy in a binder to ensure quick access to recipes for your favorite meals. After each meal, write comments on your weekly meal plan. Was the meal a success? Would you make changes next time? Perhaps alter the ingredients? Save each completed meal plan and compile in a binder for future use and reference.

Create festive meal nights such as pizza night on Fridays, tacos on Wednesdays, leftovers on Tuesdays, or whatever is most convenient for your schedule. Make a routine for yourself to ensure fewer meals to plan each week. Then you can enjoy the benefits of familiarity with your predictable meal plans.

Tip

Set aside enough time before your week begins to ensure you will have adequate time to plan healthy and manageable meals.

Warnings

You may want to consult a nutritionist before altering your meal plans to ensure you are receiving the proper amount of vitamins, minerals, calories and healthy fats.

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