Meal Planning with Numbers In Mind
Track your numbers and find out how meal planning is going to save you time and money as well as to eliminate the mental stress. My weekly leftover hacks meal plan with hand-picked recipes is going to help you experience it all.
One of the benefits of meal planning is to save time and money. If you do meal planning every week, you are definitely saving both. OK, great! But by how much? Everyone’s answer is going to be different and your savings (both time and money) could vary every week depending on what you cook. However, if you do a little bit of tracking, things can be easily comparable.
If you are doing meal planning without subscribing to a meal plan service, there is going to be some math involved. Don’t worry. It’s really simple. Nothing complicated here. Today, I am going to explain how you can plan your weekly meal with numbers in mind so you have a better idea on how and how much the planning helps you.
Before you go shopping, ask yourself these questions.
How much do I usually spend on groceries per month?
Studies show that the average monthly grocery expense for an urban family of 3-4 in the United States is around $500 to $600. Of course, every one of us might have a different situation. Let’s keep things simple and use $500 monthly grocery expense as an example. That means your weekly expense is around $125. This is the number you want to keep in mind when you go do your weekly grocery shopping.
When you have your weekly meals planned out, you’ll know exactly what to buy in addition to milk, yogurt, fruit or other healthy snacks that your family love. By the time you check out, the receipt should tell you how much you spend. If the number is below $125, great. If the number is over $125, don’t be too worry because next week, your grocery bill might be cheaper. Do it for a month and you will know exactly where you are at in terms of grocery expense. Adjustment can only be made when you know what needs to be adjusted, right?
In a nutshell, have a budget in mind and leave a bit room for wiggle.
How many people am I cooking for?
This will tie directly into your expense. The recipe you want to include in your weekly meal plan might serve 2 people but you have 4 to feed including yourself. Or it might be the other way around. Therefore, you want to have the amount of each ingredient calculated when you make the grocery shopping list. I want to help you reach maximum savings and minimum stress from meal prep and cooking. So the answer to the next question is where the difference is going to be.
How many servings am I making for a dish?
Isn’t that the same question as how many people I am cooking for? Not necessarily if you do leftover hacks where you use the leftovers from a dish (usually a main) for the next day’s meal. This week’s meal plan is a perfect example.
Say you make a pork tenderloin with sun-dried tomatoes and capers dish for 4 servings. You might want to consider to double the recipe and use the leftover pork to whip up a pork with warm kale and asparagus salad for the next day. All you need to do is to make the warm salad which takes less than 15 minutes. What’s that phrase? Killing two birds with one stone, right? You can do the same with a salmon dish too. This way, you not only save money but you are going to save so much time and hassle and still have deliciously prepared healthy meals on the table every day.
To sum it up, I encourage you to try meal planning with those numbers in mind. Keep tracking your expense and really pay attention to how easy and relaxing your night could be with the leftover hacks trick. The result will surprise you.
No clue about where to start? Here’s what I planned for your next week’s meal. Give it a shot and tell me how it goes in the comment below.
SATURDAY & SUNDAY
Check the recipes included in this week’s meal plan and make a shopping list according to the number of people you will be cooking for. You don’t have to think about leftover ideas. I’ve got you covered in the meal plan.
I would suggest you do a bit of pre-prep over the weekend once you get your groceries. Make a regular pico de gallo or a peach pico de gallo not only as a snack through the week but also for a salmon dish you’ll be making during the week.
Cook some rice ahead of time for a salmon fried rice recipe. Day-old rice does well in fried rice. Freshly cooked rice will result in mushy fried rice.
I usually make a big batch of side dish like lentils, quinoa, or couscous before the week starts, so that I don’t have to worry about sides when things get busy during the week. Remember to include the ingredients on your shopping list.
Since you are going to bake or grill some salmon on this day, you might as well make a bit more salmon for Tuesday’s salmon fried rice. Regular pico de gallo works well with this dish too.
If you’ve cooked more salmon the day before, this fried rice recipe takes pretty much no time to whip up. Even you cook it with raw salmon, it will only take you 10 more minutes to cook the salmon.
As mentioned before, make more pork on this day is going to make your next day’s meal so much faster. You are cooking it anyways, cook a bit more is not going to take you much longer but it certainly will save you A LOT OF time the next day.
You can totally use the leftovers from the pork dish you made the day before for this healthy warm salad.
The kitchen is closed. The cook is going to enjoy a nice little break. We could either dine out or enjoy the leftovers if there’s any. Next week, there is going to be something new on the menu…
About the Author
Sharon Chen is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, an author and a sous vide fanatic who believes food not only brings healing but also connection. As the creator of StreetSmart Kitchen, she's on a mission to help you find balance, ease, joy, and simplicity in the kitchen as you improve your well-being.