January 14, 2019 Nutrition & Health How to Make Meal Planning Healthier I’ve never been into meal prepping all of our meals at the beginning of the week. What can I say, I like freshly cooked meals—is that so bad?! But, meal planning?! It’s become my jam the past few months and has made our weeks infinitely easier, healthier and cheaper. Since it’s still January and my guess is that some of you might have some goals or intentions around eating healthier or saving money, I wanted to share a few of my tips for making meal planning healthier and how to save money while doing it. Plan on Sunday I like to sit down on Sunday morning, after we’ve had brunch, and plan out our meals for the week. If I try planning when I’m hungry, I always end up getting frustrated, or add less healthy meals to the menu. After I’m planned, I make a list and head to the grocery—it’s our Sunday afternoon tradition! Have the Basics on Hand I keep our pantry stocked with basics so each week I’m not buying a ton of stuff. And, it makes it easy to come up with new ideas when I look in the pantry and see I have tortillas and black beans—tacos anyone?! I keep rice, quinoa, lentils, some canned goods like beans and legumes, broth for a quick soup and lots of spices because they make everything better! Try to Utilize Ingredients Twice This is a littler harder, but if I’m buying something like chicken. I’ll cook two different meals that use chicken so that nothing goes to waste. It takes a little bit more planning, and doesn’t always work out perfectly, but makes me feel better about buying less and wasting less. I also end up making lunches from any leftovers to use up everything! Shop & Get Cash Back Another New Years resolution for me is to not spend as much each month. There were several months last year where I’d get my credit card statement and my eyes would bulge. How did I possibly spend that much?! The upside was that it wasn’t on random stuff, the biggest category is almost always groceries! The downside, groceries are essential and something I can’t really cut back on. Meal planning definitely helps me buy less, but that’s about it for savings. That was true until I was introduced to Ibotta! Have you guys heard of this money saving app?! You get cash back on all kinds of items when you shop with online retailers like Thrive Market, Walmart.com, Target.com, Jet and more. You can also upload your receipts from other vendors like Whole Foods, which is great since we shop here a lot, and get cash back. I’ve been shocked at some of the deals too—$1 back on every bottle of my favorite kombucha, 50 cents back on Rx bars and $1.50 back on Justin’s nut butters*! There’s also offers on certain products that you can buy at ANY retailer on their list, which is wild! A few of the last deals I saw were 25 cents back on bananas, shredded cheese and orange juice*—any brand! Just make sure you keep your receipt! I had so much fun going through and adding the things that we typically buy. I can’t wait to see how much we get back by the end of the month! Have you tried Ibotta yet? Add Greens to Every Meal I try to get greens into our meal every night. It doesn’t always happen, but when I plan in advance, I can figure out how to get more greens into our meal. Sometimes it’s a side salad, others it’s adding a big handful of greens to a soup or stew, or roasting more green veggies! Wash Ingredients Ahead One other trick that helps make our meal planning healthier and easier is prepping some ingredients, like veggies, before I put them in the fridge. Washing them ahead of time makes it so easy to pull them out and makes me more likely to use those ingredients throughout the week if they’re easy to grab and use! Do you meal plan? What tips and tricks do you have more making meals healthier? And, have you tried Ibotta? Go download it now, it’s totally free! Thanks to Ibotta for sponsoring this post! *All offers were valid as of publish date. Don’t forget to check your app for details as offers change frequently and may not be available in all areas. P.S. Get a week of free healthy meal plans here!