Shop your own pantry: Don’t forget about the foods you already have at home. Don’t let food go to waste by letting it expire before you use it. Check the expiration date and work the foods you already have into your meal plan.
Remember leftovers: Think about what food you will have left over after preparing a meal. Can you use that food for your next meal? For example, if you have roasted chicken for dinner, you could use the leftover chicken to make chicken soup or a sliced chicken sandwich for lunch the next day. This saves you money and time preparing food.
Store leftovers correctly: If you plan to make meals in advance or to use leftovers, make sure you store them safely. Pack and refrigerate or freeze leftovers within 2 hours of serving. Label and date each container. Eat refrigerated leftovers within 3-4 days. For more information about food storage times, visit Foodsafety.gov.
Keep in mind the New American Plate: The New American Plate from the American Institute for Cancer Research is an easy, visual reminder of what a healthy plate looks like. Your plate should be made up of 2/3 (or more) vegetables, fruits, whole grains, or beans and 1/3 (or less) animal protein.
For ideas to include in your meal plans, check out our Meal and Snack Ideas for easy-to-make meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with minimal cooking required. For healthy meal inspiration, visit our Recipes. You can also visit our Sample Menus for specific needs.