One of the reasons that frozen meals are so popular is because of their convenience. What is easier than popping something in the microwave, pressing a button, and having a full meal done in minutes? The problem with frozen food, though, is that most of it is very high in sodium and preservatives.
The other convenience of frozen food is that it is much less costly than going out to buy the individual ingredients to make a meal, especially if the meal is just for one or two. When recipes call for a variety of foods, that can really add up; most Americans end up throwing a huge portion of what is left unfinished away due to spoilage.
So what is the best way to have the nutritious meals you want, without going the frozen entree route and still keeping costs low? It is pre-prepping your own meals. Having a plan to use the ingredients you buy to make meals ahead of time is the best way to add convenience to your meal times, and also to save your pocketbook from the huge expense of throwing out foods that have gone bad before you can use them.
A good way to prepare meals is to have a meal plan for the entire week and to make the meals ahead of time to freeze or refrigerate. Setting aside one day, like Sunday, to do all the cooking for the week is a great time manager and also a great food maximizer plan. These are great tips to make sure to maximize your food likability while minimizing your grocery bill.
Before you make your plan see what you have in the pantry
Before you decide ahead of time which foods you are going to make, look through your pantry and refrigerator to find out what you already have. Who hasn’t gone into the pantry to find that you have twelve cans of tuna — only to realize that you don’t even like tuna? Before you decide what theme to go with for the week, check out what ingredients you already have, and use them first before heading to the grocery store to buy exotic items that you will only use once.
Shop at the warehouse stores and only buy those things you use
When you go to the grocery store, it is designed to get you to make impulse buys. Whenever you go to the store, they have aisles set up to entice you to buy things that you definitely don’t need and are probably never going to use. When you buy things in bulk, then you limit yourself only to those things you know you need and will use. The bigger bulk stores, along with food and beverage supplier won’t have you giving into temptation. After all, you aren’t going to buy ten pounds of something unless you know for sure you want it and are going to use it.
Try for a meatless night
Make one night your meatless night. You would be surprised at how much cutting meat out of one nightly meal can save your budget. It is also a great way to get more nutrition in your diet. If you can’t use meat as an entree, it forces you to look elsewhere to find things in the pantry that you might not combine otherwise. When you can’t use the old standby of a meat-based meal, it helps to bring out the inner chef.
Use freezer-friendly menus
When you plan to make food ahead of time, look through recipes that can be frozen. It’s likely that you aren’t going to want to eat spaghetti sauce-based foods all week. But the key is to use up all the ingredients so they aren’t wasted and don’t go bad. If you want to make the same themed foods to use at a later date and use them all up, make sure to go for recipes that can save for a bit and pull them out on those days when you didn’t have the time to plan ahead.
If you want to save time, money, and make more nutritious meals, make your meal plans ahead of time. If you hate the question “what’s for dinner,” then use one day a week to decide on the week’s meals, so you don’t have to put that kind of stress on yourself daily. Make- ahead meals are the best way to use the food you already have, not succumb to impulse buys and to bring out your inner creative chef.