Jan 17, 2022

Solid meal plan provides nutritional variety, savings on at-home dining

Posted Jan 17, 2022 12:45 PM

From K-State Research and Extension

MANHATTAN —  After a long day at work, the last thing many people want to do is cook dinner; oftentimes they default to grab and go meals on the way home. 

However, planning ahead can reduce stress, stretch food dollars and ensure a more nutritious meal, said K-State Research and Extension nutrition specialist Sandy Procter.  

“Meal planning allows consumers to take advantage of any in-store sales,” Procter said. “I also encourage consumers to first shop their cupboards at home because by using the items in the pantry, food waste is decreased and foods are fresher due to the shorter turnaround use time of the ingredients.”  

“Keeping track of what you have at home before you go shopping is a great way to save both money and time at the store.”  

She also reminded consumers to check their freezers to assess the available space for grocery storage, as well as remembering what foods are already on hand. 

Procter encourages consumers to create a weekly menu to allow for more variety in meals and provide a healthier option to fast food.  

“When creating a weekly meal plan, go ahead and plan for a leftover night so that food doesn’t go to waste,” Procter said.  

Another tip related to recipe planning: Procter encourages consumers to look on the web for recipes. 

“Many recipes focus around specific ingredients, so you can use up an item in the cupboard by doing a search on the web for that ingredient,” Procter said. She also said many recipes can be easily adapted for meat and key ingredient substitutions. “Don’t be afraid to try some recipe swaps to use similar or related ingredients you have on hand.”  

 “Remember that oftentimes convenience is a tradeoff and we can actually make our meals healthier by preparing them at home, which allows us to save money and build more variety into our diets.”