by Carol Harrison, RD
Need help getting fast, healthy meals to the table? Meal planning is the secret to stress-free meal preparation. It will also save you time and money because you’ll eat at home more often, buy fewer processed foods and waste less of your groceries.
Get Started with these Simple Steps:
- Keep a Grocery List on the Fridge (or on your Phone). Add items to the list as you run out of them, rather than checking what you need right before shopping (and miss something!). Before you shop, check your fridge, cupboards and pantry – you may have more food than you think.
TIP: Set up your grocery list according to the store layout (produce, dairy, etc.) to make shopping faster and easier.
- Create a “Master List” of Simple Seasonal Dinner Meals (with Recipes and Shopping List) Dinner is the meal most folks struggle with, so start there. As the seasons change, make a new list of familiar dinners. Ask family and friends for suggestions. Need more variety? Think of theme nights, such as taco or pasta night. Check out our seasonal dinner articles with shopping list:
TIP: Eating homemade, wholesome food more often can have a huge impact on your health and on your food budget, too! With good planning, you can cut back on packaged, ready-to-eat and take-out foods. You’ll also reduce your family’s food waste. The United Nations calculates that per capita waste for North American consumers is between 95-115 kg a year.
- Check What’s on Special. Look for wholesome foods you can combine with food already on hand to create tasty, well-balanced meals. If broccoli is on sale and you have a fast fry steak in the freezer, maybe you’ll plan to have beef and broccoli stir fry with brown rice that week.
TIP: For good health, plan to fill half your plate with vegetables and/or fruit (fresh or frozen), one-quarter with quality protein (fish, eggs, chicken, beef, pork, beans, tofu, lentils) and one-quarter with grains (quinoa, barley, brown rice, whole-grain breads).
Good to Know: Keeping healthy food affordable matters to all of us! Thanks to plant science, Canadians enjoy a variety of safe, high-quality and affordable foods. Without it, Canadians would pay as much as 55% more for food — an average of $4,400 more per family every .
- Start Planning and Share the Work! Start small – try planning two or more dinner meals ahead. On busy weeknights, keep it simple. Try fish tacos with coleslaw and milk, or breakfast for dinner: scrambled eggs, toast and sliced fruit. Add any extra items you need to your grocery list. And remember to give everyone in your household a job – planning, shopping, cooking and cleanup, too!
TIP: Leftovers are one of the biggest causes of food waste. Have a plan for using leftovers, whether for lunches the next day or in pasta, soup or a stir-fry for another meal.