With the holidays approaching, here are a few suggestions on meal planning that might make your holiday meals a breeze. This topic may very well be the most important concept you will learn. Simply because people eat better, stretch their food dollars, and save precious time when they plan their meals. Learning to eat well while saving money is good news.
When you know what you are planning to cook it can be quite enjoyable. When all the ingredients are in the fridge and pantry, and the family knows what time to expect the meal to be ready they anticipate a great tasting meal. Planning your meals is one of the most important things you can do to save time and money. One simple way to plan a menu is to think first about the main meal which is usually the evening meal where the whole family comes together, making this meal both socially and nutritionally important. First decide the main item you want to serve. Picture the item in your mind on a plate and think about what complements it. For instance, let’s say chicken is on sale so you decide to have barbecued chicken. Then think of what to add to make the meal complete, satisfying and attractive.
Before you go to the store plan your menu; that saves time and money. Keep an ongoing list of things that you need to purchase and commit to sticking to that list. To your ongoing list add the ingredients you will need to make the menu items you have planned. Check your pantry for what you already have on hand so that you are not buying what you already have at home. Unless of course, those items are on sale. Look at newspaper ads for weekly specials and incorporate those foods into your menu and shopping list. Clip coupons for items you use and only those you use. Do not go to the store when you are tired, hungry or rushed because you will be more likely to make unwise and impulsive food shopping decisions. Compare size, cost, taste and quality of products before you buy them. Compare the prices of different types of the same item and of fresh versus frozen verses canned. Remember to read your nutrition facts label as this is one way you can ensure that you are choosing nutritious foods.
Have you ever noticed that cooking seems to be either really fun or really challenging? It can be either it’s all up to you. By planning ahead you can make it really fun!
For more information contact Lethia Lee, EFNEP Assistant with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at 910-592-7161.