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Meal planning, preparation, part 3

November 13, 2018
Amanda Bohlen , MOV Parent

How have you been doing with meal planning and preparation? I'm going to be transparent. My grocery list was made but due to unexpected life events I didn't make it to the grocery store on my normal day. Now I had to go against my cardinal rule of NEVER shopping for the week after work. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind to stop and pick up a few things that I missed but I despise shopping for the whole week after work. I'm rushed on time, lacking energy, I blow my budget and buy unhealthy foods. All of that is a recipe for disaster and I avoid it at all costs. However, last week was unavoidable. I knew I had all my meals planned for the week but my Monday night dinner had to change because I no longer would have time to fix what I had planned. Normally, I would have taken the opportunity to swing through a drive-thru or pick up a pizza. I avoided that temptation and put my skills to the test. I started with a healthy protein option and then added in my different food groups while keeping in mind my budget and time. Any guesses on what we had and how much I spent?

For dinner that night I spent $10 to feed four people. I purchased a rotisserie chicken from the deli, picked up a frozen bag of steamable broccoli, microwave-ready 1 pound of baby potatoes in the produce section and some applesauce. The only thing I had to do when I got home was use the microwave and in 10 minutes dinner was ready. Can I tell you that I felt like a superhero that night. I saw a challenge and surpassed what I ever thought I would be able to do.

Let's continue on in our three part series on cost and time saving measures for your grocery store trips. The three areas discussed are: before shopping, during shopping, and after shopping.

In case you missed last month's article on during shopping, here's a quick recap:

Shop on a full stomach

Shop when you have time and energy

Shop the perimeter of the store

Purchase less processed foods

Compare unit prices

Pay attention to product placement

Now that you've left the grocery store with only the items on your list and under budget let's head home to finish prepping. Don't forget to make sure your superhero cape is inside the car when you shut your door.

Cost and Time Saving Tips After Shopping

Package your own healthy snacks. It's cheaper to buy a larger bag of an item and divide it out into smaller portions than it is to buy them already prepackaged.

If you need lettuce or shredded cheese later in the week for sandwiches or meals, take the time to shred and divide when you get home. Also, take the time to wash/cut up your fresh fruits and vegetables. This will make healthy snacks ready to go for those busy days. It also helps you skip a step when cooking meals later.

Make sure you are rotating your food as you put them into your pantry. Paying attention to expiration dates cuts down on waste. Remember the FIFO method. First In First Out.

If you bought large packages of meat, take time to divide them and freeze what you won't use this week. If you plan to marinate, you could start that as well so you know it's ready to go when you need it.

I would love to have your feedback on what healthy options you fix or pick-up for dinner on those nights when you are pressed for time. Email your ideas my way to incorporate into my next article. bohlen.19@osu.edu

Amanda Bohlen is the new family and consumer science educator for The Ohio State University Extension in Washington County. She received her bachelor's in family and consumer science education from Ohio University and her master's in curriculum and instruction from Ohio Valley University. For the last seven years she has been in the classroom teaching high school students' financial education, child development, nutrition and culinary skills.

 
 

 

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