Menu planning: Eat healthier and spend less

Menu planning makes healthy eating easier — and can save time and money.

8/8/2017

When the clock approaches 5:00 p.m., do you start worrying about what to have for dinner? Are you tired of using fast food as the answer? If so, try this old-school trick that's back in fashion — menu planning.

Menu planning is a great way to make sure you're eating a balanced diet and meeting your nutritional needs. And, as every frugal cook knows, menu planning can save you time and money.

Benefits of menu planning

You can have a big impact on your health — and your budget — just by eating at home more often. With menu planning you know what your meals will look like and what you need to buy. That makes grocery shopping more efficient and cuts down on unplanned trips to buy one or two items. And with a grocery list in hand — a byproduct of good menu planning — it's easier to resist impulse purchases.

Menu-planning basics

Menu planning doesn't have to be complicated. To get started, jot down some of your favorite meals. Cooking for a family? Ask them to suggest menu ideas, too.

For more inspiration, flip through cookbooks or check out recipe websites. You can even find sample menus and menu-planning apps online.

Plan a week of meals at a time. Be sure to include side dishes as well as entrees and some healthy desserts, too. When you have your menu plan filled in, create a shopping list of the ingredients you'll need.

Some things to consider as you contemplate menu options:

Get into the menu-planning routine

Like any new habit, menu planning gets easier with practice. Over time, you'll figure out ways to make the process work for you. In the meantime, here are some tips and tricks from seasoned menu planners:

Bask in the glory

Take a moment to feel good knowing that menu planning is making it easier for you to eat a healthy diet. And give yourself an extra pat on the back for saving money while you're at it.

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Content from Mayo Clinic

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