This tip is simple, but if you take time to do it when filling in your meal list, it will make your execution much easier. Take a few moments to consider and note meals that should be cooked first based on perishable ingredients.
Some meals, like ones that include fresh mushrooms or tomatoes, need to be eaten quickly. Others, that perhaps use frozen veggies and dry ingredients, can last much longer.
If you assign specific meals to specific days, this is just an extra layer to keep in mind. If you prefer to plan a number of meals and pick-and-choose as you go, this can be a quick star beside certain meals, or you could even number your meals roughly in the order you should cook them. Printables for both types of meal lists are available for free here!
Since I work on a monthly basis now, what works for me is actually grouping my meals into three different groups: the meals I should use in the first week that have more sensitive produce, ones that use hardier produce that I should use in the middle, and meals that rely completely on non-perishable ingredients, such as frozen & canned items, which I know I can use last. I of course pick up fresh produce in the middle of the month, as well. It’s not a perfect science, but just a few extra minutes can save precious produce from going bad!
If this sounds like a lot of factors to keep up with, don’t worry- it definitely may feel that way in the beginning, and it is totally natural. This type of foresight and planning will become much easier after your first several meal plans, trips to the store, and actually cooking through your planned meals. Give yourself some time, and remember that a plan at any level still helps you reduce waste, stress, and expense!
Want the rest of the series, the printables, and a fast-track system to get you meal planning?