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Preparing balanced meals for your family may be one of the main sources of stress in your life.

These 5 steps will help you reduce your stress level, save you time and money, and result in a more relaxed meal time with your family.

1. Take Inventory

Knowing what you already have on hand will help you create a meal plan. Look in your kitchen cupboards, pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. What food do you already have? Are there perishable foods such as meats, dairy products, fruits and vegetables that need to be used before they go bad? Are there canned and boxed products that are near their expiration date?

2. Check the Deals

For many shoppers gone are the days of cutting out coupons. Only use coupons for items you need or were already planning to buy. Many savvy shoppers have turned to using apps on their smart phone, price matching, and using store reward cards. For the stores you do most of your grocery shopping at, go to their website and see if they have apps for saving money, reward cards, etc. Try the store brand, they are usually cheaper than name brands and are often times prepared by the same company.

3. Make a Meal Plan

Making weekly, biweekly, or monthly meal plans is one of the best ways to save money on your grocery bill. Include cook once, eat twice options. One example of this option is baking chicken breasts and using some of the meat to make tacos one night and the next night using the chicken to make soup. Also, make extra for dinners so you'll have lunch for the next day. Don't forget to include healthy snacks in your meal plan!

4. Make a List

Making a list will definitely save you time and money. Try making your list in the order of the store layout. It makes shopping quicker and ensures that you get everything. Keep your list on your refrigerator, encouraging family members to add to it as appropriate. When you are running low on staple items, write it down so you don't forget. 

5. Practice Makes Perfect

The more you practice these steps, the less stressed you will be, and the more you will look forward to family meal times. Ask your friends and family to share what they do to save money and time when preparing meals for their families. After that, experiment with what works best for your family.

For recipes and meal prep ideas, visit the Food Section of our Nebraska Extension website.

Carrie Miller MS RD

Registered Dietitian from UNL Extension

Carrie Miller is a mother of two and Registered Dietitian with a Master degree in Nutritional Science and Dietetics. Carrie has worked at UNL Extension in Omaha for over 12 years managing the Nutrition Education Program and teaching limited resource audiences. Special interests include feeding children healthy, fun foods, and finding time to get outside and be active. Learn more about Carrie and the other UNL Extension nutrition experts at ...

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Categories: nutrition, lifestyle,