Learning for Life: Save time and money with a meal plan

How often do you find yourself standing in front of the refrigerator, door open, wracking your brain for dinner inspiration only to wind up eating out? Enough is enough! Save yourself this hassle and frustration (not to mention money) by meal planning.

First, pick one day each week to sit down and take stock of what items are already in your cupboards. Next, look at the family’s calendar and note the busiest days and those where there is more time to cook. Write a list of all your family’s favorite meals. Having your favorite grocery store’s weekly ad or pulling it up online is helpful. Using the ad, determine what foods are on sale that week. Clip paper coupons or add them electronically to your rewards card. Choose meals from the list of your family’s favorites that feature sale items. Now, make a shopping list for all the ingredients needed for those meals that you don’t already have in the pantry. Remember to incorporate foods from all the food groups with an emphasis on fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains. Plan for leftovers by cooking double the amount of foods that store well and eating them on one of those busy nights. Finally, write each night’s meal on its assigned day on the calendar.

Voila! No more feeling stressed at dinnertime. Plus, think of all the money you’ve just saved!

Submitted by Amorette Payment, UAF Cooperative Extension Service, Nutrition Educator, Kenai Peninsula District, 43961 K-Beach Rd., Suite A, Soldotna, AK 99669. 907-262-5824.

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