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Your lifestyle, your quirk
Do you aimlessly wander around grocery stores without a clue as to what you should buy? Are you frequently spotted waiting in line at the drive thru of a fast food chain? Does the local pizza delivery guy visit your home at least twice a week? Settling for “quick and easy” meal solutions like these can have costly consequences – not just for your bank account, but also for your health.
Meal plans are a simple and effective way to prevent overspending and overindulging on food. Begin by planning one week at a time. Check the local grocery store’s weekly ad for ideas on incorporating sale items into your meals. Vegetables, pasta, and rice can be used as side dishes or as the base of an entrée. Plan to purchase items that give you some flexibility; for example, buying a package of ground beef instead of pre-made hamburger patties will give you more meal preparation options. Having a variety of dinner choices at home will put a stop to the delivery and takeout routine.
Try to limit your trips to the grocery store to one or two a week so you will be less likely to splurge on additional items. To save time in the store, organize your shopping list by grouping foods based on their store location. It’s okay to pick up a few items that are not on your list, but avoid aisles that might tempt you to take home unhealthy meal substitutes. If you begin to stray, remember that spending hours in the grocery store only to end up with a cart full of frozen pizzas and ice cream was not working out well – so stay on track!
Now that you have solved the dinner dilemma, use your meal planning skills to develop lunch ideas. Prepare your midday meals at home to avoid expensive and unhealthy lunch options at restaurants or fast food chains. Consider creative ways to prepare the leftovers from the great dinner meals you have planned.
A tip about leftover storage: use clear containers (with labels if necessary) so the contents are easily identified. Leftover food hidden underneath a mountain of tin foil or stuffed into an empty sour cream container is most likely going to be forgotten. Enjoy making the most of your meal planning, and give the local pizza delivery guy a call every now and then – he is going to miss you!