Here at House of Nutrition in Poughkeepsie, we get questions almost weekly about ways to successfully meal plan. Although the people asking have different motives and goals — some want to save money, some want to control their calorie intake, and others simply need to manage their time more efficiently — we realized that this was a topic worth spending some time on.

In today’s blog, we will discuss some important tips for successful meal planning. Of course, if you find that your regular diet is lacking anything important, come talk to us about the nutritional supplements that we can use to help offset any deficiencies for you or your family. Our on-staff nutritionist is happy to help.

Tip 1: Always Check The Fridge And Pantry First

Regardless of your reason for taking the time to meal plan and prep, always make sure to use what you have first. Unused vegetables, food items close to expiration, and frozen leftovers should always be the first piece of the puzzle. Wasted food is wasted money no matter how you cut it, and by planning ahead, you can make the most of your grocery budget and your pantry while still saving time and eating healthy.

Tip 2: Look For Deals and Specials

Make sure to take a couple of minutes to review the weekly specials, coupons, and offers from your local grocery store(s) of choice. Whether you’re building muscle or making sure the kids have nutritious daily lunches for school, a sale on chicken or beef can save you money and help you meet your goals. Meal planners we have talked to have shared that they don’t like eating the same thing day after day, so buying certain items in bulk doesn’t make sense to them. However, when purchasing bulk items, especially proteins, grains, and non-perishables liked soups and canned fruits and vegetables, you can get the best bang for your buck while also creating future frozen or pantry-sticked food stores that will save you time on shopping.

Tip 3: Put Your Plan In Writing

After you have figured out what you already have on hand and what kind of deals you want to take advantage of for the week, it’s time to get down to business. Create a weekly menu that includes breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and a flexible snack for each day. Writing this down serves two important functions — it helps you stay accountable and it simultaneously helps you write your shopping list for the week. Make sure to check portions sizes, quantities on hand, and recipes you are going to employ so that when you do shop, you get enough of what you need.

Pro Tip: Keep your weekly menus and review them after a few weeks. What kind of dietary trends are you establishing? Are you getting too much or too little of anything? Bring your menus by House of Nutrition and share them with us. We will be happy to help you find any nutritional supplements that may be lacking so you can continue planning, prepping, and working towards your goals without a major shift in what you’re doing.

Tip 4: Stick To Planning One Week At A Time

Starting an effective meal planning program in your home isn’t always easy. Be forgiving with yourself and start by sticking to planning no more than one week at a time. This is a good time frame for shopping too as it will help you avoid making extra trips for non-dietary essentials like paper towels, cat and dog food, and cleaning supplies.

Tip 5: Make The Most Of Leftovers

Eating the same thing can be boring at best, and without the proper nutritional supplements, sometimes unhealthy. We understand that you want and need variety in your diet. However, we also know that cooking four to six portions of a meal instead of one takes only slightly more time and effort. If you refrigerate your leftovers, you typically need to eat them within a couple of days. But by freezing them, you can save them for a future week of meal planning — something you’ll thank yourself for later.

Let House of Nutrition Fill in the Nutritional Gaps

House of Nutrition in Poughkeepsie wants to help support your meal planning, no matter why you’re doing it. Stop by and see us or contact us online to get an expert opinion as well as pro tips on how to get the right nutritional supplements to fill in any dietary gaps in your meal planning. We look forward to helping.