Healthy Kids First:The Wonder Woman Meets Suze Orman Version of Meal Planning

By Mandy Curry on February 14, 2015 from Healthy Kids First via

This year we are tackling Healthy Habits.  Each month is a new habit and at the end of the year you will find that you have made incredible progress with your family’s health. 
February’s healthy habit is a hot topic right now.  And it’s all about MEAL PLANNING
But not just basic Meal Planning.  This is the Wonder Woman meets Suze Orman version of meal planning. 
The average American family spends $2,200 annually on food they throw out.
Food that is tossed.  Wasted.  Never consumed.
It doesn’t seem like a lot to throw out that weekly bag of lettuce or the avocado that now feels like a ball of mush or that bunch of banana’s that are completely brown, or even that container of yogurt that we never got around to. But every toss into the trash adds up.  
Before we know it, we have wasted an estimated $180/month on food that we didn't eat. 
In fact, American’s throw out 25% of their food, most of which is fruits and vegetables that weren't used in time.  
But much of that waste (and expense) can be avoided by meal planning. Meal planning ensures that you’re not spending money on food that inevitably will get thrown away.
(here’s the Suze Orman part)If you took that $180/month savings you would gain by not purchasing foods that ultimately gets thrown away, and put it into a savings account, you would have $22,000 at the end of 10 years.
That’s HUGE!
Here are some tips to make Meal Planning work for your wallet:
1. Make your List and Stick to it. 
Make a list of what you’re going to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Stick to it. No impulse buys. Only buy what you need this week.  Here's our meal planner and grocery list that keeps us organized each week.  Use this as a templateto make your own.  It will keep your grocery trip planned and within budget, every time.  
2. Don't stock your pantry for Armageddon. 
Growing up, I used to shop at the grocery store with my grandmother every week in Bridgeport.  Each week she loaded her cart with groceries that inevitably never got eaten. She had shelf after shelf of canned goods that we never consumed.  The truth is that we only need a few staples in our pantry.  In fact, here's a video we shot a while back about what we keep in our pantry (and it does include a snack bin).   
3.  Buy bulk produce with caution.  
Yes, bulk purchases are great for non-perishables and can ultimately save you money, but a lot of food waste (and money waste) comes from buying produce in bulk. That 2-package container of spinach seems like a good deal, but if I don't have time to consume that much, then I'm losing money on what I throw out.  The exception would be when produce is in season and you're planning to freeze or can the surplus.  
4. Buy Frozen Fruits & Vegetables. 
If you routinely throw out produce, then switch to frozen fruits and vegetables. Frozen fruits and vegetables have the same nutrients as fresh produce. Just be sure you’re buying frozen foods without any additives like sauces, sugar, or salt (no cheesy frozen broccoli allowed).  
5. Freeze produce that’s getting a little too ripe.
If your banana is looking too ripe, just throw it in the freezer. The whole thing. No need to even peel it.  The next time you make a smoothie, just cut the peel off and throw your frozen banana in the blender. 
6. Compost.
Throw your produce scraps in a compost pile. We’re going to cover this in much more detail in the coming months (hint. hint. healthy habit coming soon)
7. Purchase with a Plan.
My big fail last week was buying an eggplant without a plan. It looked like a good idea at the time but guess what? It’s still in my refrigerator waiting on my plan and wilting a bit each day.
So as a part of February’s Healthy Habit, spend some time really thinking through your grocery list and meals for the week. Stick to your list and monitor your food waste. And then at the end of this month, toss that savings into your account and watch it grow.  
One small change each week can go a long way.  We have so much more to cover on Meal Planning.  Stay tuned. We’ll be back with more tips very soon.

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