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Expert Interview Series: Christopher About Planning and Cooking Ahead

Did you know that planning your meals weekly can save you time, money, and stress? It's true. According to Christopher McLaughlin, Brand Director at Plan to Eat, the benefits are numerous. Recently, Cilantro had the opportunity to speak with...

Planning and cooking ahead

Did you know that planning your meals weekly can save you time, money, and stress? It's true.

According to Christopher McLaughlin, Brand Director at Plan to Eat, the benefits are numerous.

Recently, Cilantro had the opportunity to speak with Christopher about all of the ways that meal planning can enhance your life.

What are some tips for more efficient planning/routines in the kitchen?

1. Pick a (good) day. Most people shop for groceries one week at a time. Pick one day every week to do your meal planning and shopping. Be consistent and stick to it.

2. Start small. If you are new to meal planning, don't try to plan an entire month in one session. Plan for one week and get used to evaluating your week and your recipes first.

3. Expand your recipe repertoire and make it easy to pick while planning. Thanks to the internet, an infinite amount of great recipes are at your fingertips. Develop a bank of recipes that you love to cook; and as you collect them, organize them in a way that will help you meal plan faster.

4. Reuse the work you have already done. When you have time to sit down and plan, save it! Then you can reuse it when you have weeks with less time to plan.

Do you prefer planning manually or do you find it beneficial to plan digitally?

Go digital! I'm old enough to predate the digital world. I know how beautiful a hand-written note can be, but hand-writing your grocery list is a waste of time. If you want efficiency, give your computer a try and see how much time you save!

What are the benefits of meal planning/cooking ahead?

1. Meal planning allows you to eat together as a household. If eating together is important to you, and it should be, you can't wing it. Dinner doesn't just happen. Having a plan for what you will eat is the first step to actually having dinner on the table.

2. Meal planning allows you to eat healthier food and manage allergies. Healthier food doesn't just happen either. Whether you're trying to lose weight, manage allergies, or simply eat more vegetables, you are going to have to prepare the food for yourself at home using the best ingredients you can get.

3. Meal planning saves time and money. Eating out is what we do when we don't know what else to do. And it's expensive! Staring at an empty fridge is a waste of time. Aimlessly wandering the aisles at the grocery store is also a waste of time. Time and time again our customers, who may have never had a meal plan before, comment back to us about how much easier cooking and shopping is with a plan.

4. Meal planning will help you waste less food. Aimlessly wandering the aisles results in a refrigerator filled with disconnected ingredients that are difficult to cook from. A refrigerator full of random ingredients is a roadblock in the kitchen that often leads to eating out while the food in the refrigerator is wasted. Having a plan allows you to be intentional at the grocery store.

Are there stress reduction benefits to meal planning?

Yes! Meal planning will lower stress levels and help you enjoy your time in the kitchen. Has anyone in your household ever asked you, "what's for dinner?" I don't know why this question is so irritating, but my blood pressure rises every time our children ask. Thankfully, I can point to our meal plan and they can read the answer for themselves. Having a meal plan gives me the confidence that I have all of the ingredients that I need to get dinner on the table and allows me to be present and enjoy my time in the kitchen - regardless of the questions my children are hurling at me.

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