Clean Eating on a Budget: Meal Planning Basics
As far as I’m concerned, if you want to succeed at clean eating on a budget, then you need to be organised and you need to start meal planning. I assume that there are some clean-eating pro’s out there who are able to get by day to day without making meal plans and doing weekly food prep; but for the rest of us, prep and planning really are the key to making sure you are never hungry, or caught short with nothing good to eat.
Clean eating on a budget: meal planning benefits
Planning your meals and writing out shopping lists is good for your budget, ensures that you don’t waste food and stops you from impulse eating something that you might regret a few hours later.
Putting in the time each week to do your food prep means that you always have snacks and food ready to go at short notice. Most of us lead such busy lives that it is easy to be caught out, away from home, hungry, stressed and tired. This is when you are most likely to run into a shop and buy a packet of crisps, a bar of chocolate or a can of Coke.
Likewise, if you don’t have a plan for your evening meal and your cupboards are bare, you might be tempted to call out for a takeaway.
At the weekend I take an inventory of everything in my fridge, freezer and kitchen cupboards. I make meal plans based around what I already have, and make shopping lists for the ingredients I need. This meal plan is flexible so that I can take advantage of any supermarket offers that catch my eye.
I lead a busy life, but this planning usually takes me about half an hour on a Saturday morning while the children are eating their breakfasts. Then I have time to pick up the essentials for any food prep that needs to take place on Sunday evening (for example making soup for lunches, granola for breakfasts, and chopping up veg for meals and snacks).
Meal planning tools
Members of The Green Apple Club can print off blank checklists, meal planners and shopping lists from their account homepage. As a member you can also save your favourite website recipes to this homepage so that you can look up ingredients quickly.
As well as planning out your main meals, think about snacks for each day. You really need to have portable food that you can take out and about with you, for example carrot sticks, fruit, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and hard boiled eggs. If you are stuck away from home and need to buy emergency snacks then Nakd bars, fresh fruit, bags of unsalted nuts, edamame beans and dried fruit are all good choices.
Reading back over what I’ve just written, I realise that I sound annoyingly organised and smug. I’m so far from this description in reality, it’s laughable. I don’t always remember to make the meal plans, I don’t always make the right choices when I’m hungry, stressed and tired, and sometimes I simply can’t be bothered to do the food prep!
Life gets in the way, for all of us on occasion. Some weeks we’ll get it right and some we won’t. The key to success is to keep on trying. If you give up, you’ll never succeed.
Published by Sonia Nicholas, Founder of The Green Apple Club.