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If You Have a Terrible Meal, Don’t Yelp About It — Do This Instead

If You Have a Terrible Meal, Don’t Yelp About It — Do This Instead


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There’s a right way and a wrong way to complain about a crummy meal

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If something's wrong with your food, be polite.

We’ve all been there: You’re trying to enjoy a meal at a restaurant, but something goes terribly wrong. Don’t vent on social media; that will do nothing to actually solve your problem and won't make you feel any better about the meal. Instead, start by finding the manager as soon as the problem arises, then remember these tips.

Stay Calm
Ask anyone who’s ever had a customer service job, and they’ll tell you that it’s much more pleasant to deal with someone who’s keeping an even keel than someone who’s yelling. Even if you’re extremely upset, the manager will be far more inclined to help you out if you politely and respectfully communicate exactly what the issue is. Talk to him or her on a human level instead of as a sounding board to vent all your frustrations and you’ll have a far more successful interaction.

Suggest a Solution, Within Reason
A good rule of thumb, in life as well as in dining, is to never present a problem without also presenting a solution to said problem. In many cases, the solution to your problem in a restaurant will be obvious — if your steak is undercooked, for instance, just ask for it to be put back on the grill for a couple minutes. But by leaving it up to the manager to figure out a solution to a more complicated issue on the spot, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. For example, if a cockroach crawls out of your salad, a free dessert won’t do much for your spoiled appetite; you’re within your rights to ask for the offending dish to be removed from the bill, at the minimum. In extreme cases, if you feel that your meal should be fully comped, communicate that to the manager along with your reasoning. Managers deal with people demanding free meals for the most minor of reasons, ranging from small imperfections in the dish to the customer not thinking to ask what bottarga is before ordering. Meals are only fully comped when something goes horribly wrong (like gallons of sewage spilling from the ceiling onto your table), so if the manager doesn’t agree that your meal should be comped and suggests something else instead, remember rule number one. And for a list of things you might be saying that are really annoying your server, click here.


What to Do When Meal Planning Never Seems to Work for You

It’s easy enough to set up a meal p lan , but maintaining it is a different story. Maybe you don’t have the patience to dig up recipes every week, or m aybe you just get too busy. Whatever the scenario, if meal planning hasn’t clicked with you, here are five alternatives that don’t involve eating out.

How to Plan Your Weekly Meals, Stress Free

For many of us, cooking dinner every night is a frustrating, time-consuming process, even if you…

Buy f lexible i ngredients

For me, meal planning is hard to maintain partly because I make it too complicated. I look for fancy, complex recipes that might be fun when I have extra time on my hands, but for a quick, after- work meal, they aren’t ideal. Rather than look for specific ingredients for intricate recipes, buy some generic staples you can mix and match . Here’s how one of our readers put it :

With this method, you have to learn to wing it in the kitchen a little, but if you can master a few basics , like grilled chicken , a decent salad , or stir fry , you can make those your go-to meals and mix up the seasoning, marinade, or sides to make it interesting.

10 Dishes and Drinks Everyone Should Know How to Make

Whether you have trouble boiling water or you know your way around an immersion circulator, there…

Stick to a f ormula

Similarly, if you’re already at the store, a few basic meal formulas can help you figure out what ingredients to buy. For example, a decent slow cooker meal consists of five basics :

  • Protein (beans, tofu, meat)
  • Vegetables
  • Liquid, like vegetable stock
  • Herbs
  • Flavor boosters, like parmesan

With a formula, you don’t need some recipe list or app to tell you what to buy just pick up some flexible staples that fit the formula. Here are some other meals with easy-to-follow formulas:

  • Veggie bowls : Grain + green + bean
  • Stir fry : Protein + veggies + aromatics + sauce
  • Pasta dinner: Pasta + seasonal veggies + meat

It’s up to you to figure out what works well together , but this gives you a guideline that’s easy to follow so you can shop efficiently, even without a plan.

Free Yourself from Recipes With a Few Golden Cooking Ratios

Following a recipe is a great way to get started in the kitchen. However, once you’ve gotten the…

Use s omeone e lse’s p lan

Templates are the perfect tool for meal planning. Pick out a few recipes, list their ingredients, then just grab your list when you go to the grocery store. Or, better yet, use a template someone else has already created .

For example, Life As Mom has a handful of pre-made meal plans you can save or print out. They include links to the recipes you need, along with weekly shopping lists. Greatist has a pre-made grocery list when shopping for one . Save or bookmark the site, pull it up in-store, and buy what you need. When you’re ready to cook, just look up the corresponding recipes.

Make 20 Meals to Feed a Family of Four for $150 and One Trip to Costco

Costco is one of the best places to buy quality ingredients in bulk and save money on food. With…

Just p rep a m arinade or s easoning b lend

Rather than plan an entire week’s worth of different meals, plan the marinade instead . Prep a few different marinades, rubs, or seasoning mixes in advance. Then you can make the same thing every day in different marinades or seasonings, or mix and match to keep your dinners interesting. It’s a lot less time consuming and you have fewer ingredients to keep up with. You can make a decent marinade with just a few ingredients that you may already have at home. Food52 breaks down the formula:

Olive oil + garlic + acidic liquid (like lemon juice or vinegar) + aromatic herb (like cilantro or basil).

To mix things up a bit, here are a couple of recipes for all-purpose marinades:

Depending on the marinade, you may still have to shop for specific items, but there are fewer ingredients involved. Chances are, you can find an easy marinade recipe for stuff you have on hand, anyway. Plus, the meal prep is a lot easier. You don’t have to spend half your Sunday making a batch of pasta to last the entire week.

Use Caesar Dressing as a Marinade for Just About Anything

If you love the pungent, salty kick of Caesar dressing in your salad, then why stop there? As it…

Try a m eal k it s ervice

If you like the idea of making a few fancier-than-usual meals every week, consider subscribing to a meal kit service t hey send you a box of ingredients every week, with a few recipes that go along with them. You’ll pay more with these plans than if you were to plan on your own, but y ou’ll get a decent dish that you’ve maybe never tried before, for less than a restaurant. Plus, they’re kind of fun.

Meal planning isn’t exactly difficult but it’s just another routine you have to maintain. If you’re not good at organizing your dinners or you just don’t feel like taking the time to do it each week, you can still eat at home without painstakingly planning each meal.

This story was originally published in December 2016 and was updated on January 19, 2021 with recent information and to meet Lifehacker style guidelines.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

I feel like I’ve tried SOOO many versions of meal planning. From just buying staple ingredients to making a menu every week. Im terrible at all of it. I get sick of the same food every single week and need variety. Most people I know seem able to eat a sandwhich everyday for lunch or whatever and be fine but that drives me crazy.

We finally switched to doing blue apron Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday I work out so we do a “fend for yourself” night, Friday and Saturday the SO works at night so I just make one person meals which I can vary however I like and we make lunch together on Saturday. Sunday we go out for breakfast then make a dinner together. Sunday night is really the only meal we have to plan for now and that is something I can handle.

Its not a perfect system but right now it works and I dont suspect we will do it forever. e


What to Do When Meal Planning Never Seems to Work for You

It’s easy enough to set up a meal p lan , but maintaining it is a different story. Maybe you don’t have the patience to dig up recipes every week, or m aybe you just get too busy. Whatever the scenario, if meal planning hasn’t clicked with you, here are five alternatives that don’t involve eating out.

How to Plan Your Weekly Meals, Stress Free

For many of us, cooking dinner every night is a frustrating, time-consuming process, even if you…

Buy f lexible i ngredients

For me, meal planning is hard to maintain partly because I make it too complicated. I look for fancy, complex recipes that might be fun when I have extra time on my hands, but for a quick, after- work meal, they aren’t ideal. Rather than look for specific ingredients for intricate recipes, buy some generic staples you can mix and match . Here’s how one of our readers put it :

With this method, you have to learn to wing it in the kitchen a little, but if you can master a few basics , like grilled chicken , a decent salad , or stir fry , you can make those your go-to meals and mix up the seasoning, marinade, or sides to make it interesting.

10 Dishes and Drinks Everyone Should Know How to Make

Whether you have trouble boiling water or you know your way around an immersion circulator, there…

Stick to a f ormula

Similarly, if you’re already at the store, a few basic meal formulas can help you figure out what ingredients to buy. For example, a decent slow cooker meal consists of five basics :

  • Protein (beans, tofu, meat)
  • Vegetables
  • Liquid, like vegetable stock
  • Herbs
  • Flavor boosters, like parmesan

With a formula, you don’t need some recipe list or app to tell you what to buy just pick up some flexible staples that fit the formula. Here are some other meals with easy-to-follow formulas:

  • Veggie bowls : Grain + green + bean
  • Stir fry : Protein + veggies + aromatics + sauce
  • Pasta dinner: Pasta + seasonal veggies + meat

It’s up to you to figure out what works well together , but this gives you a guideline that’s easy to follow so you can shop efficiently, even without a plan.

Free Yourself from Recipes With a Few Golden Cooking Ratios

Following a recipe is a great way to get started in the kitchen. However, once you’ve gotten the…

Use s omeone e lse’s p lan

Templates are the perfect tool for meal planning. Pick out a few recipes, list their ingredients, then just grab your list when you go to the grocery store. Or, better yet, use a template someone else has already created .

For example, Life As Mom has a handful of pre-made meal plans you can save or print out. They include links to the recipes you need, along with weekly shopping lists. Greatist has a pre-made grocery list when shopping for one . Save or bookmark the site, pull it up in-store, and buy what you need. When you’re ready to cook, just look up the corresponding recipes.

Make 20 Meals to Feed a Family of Four for $150 and One Trip to Costco

Costco is one of the best places to buy quality ingredients in bulk and save money on food. With…

Just p rep a m arinade or s easoning b lend

Rather than plan an entire week’s worth of different meals, plan the marinade instead . Prep a few different marinades, rubs, or seasoning mixes in advance. Then you can make the same thing every day in different marinades or seasonings, or mix and match to keep your dinners interesting. It’s a lot less time consuming and you have fewer ingredients to keep up with. You can make a decent marinade with just a few ingredients that you may already have at home. Food52 breaks down the formula:

Olive oil + garlic + acidic liquid (like lemon juice or vinegar) + aromatic herb (like cilantro or basil).

To mix things up a bit, here are a couple of recipes for all-purpose marinades:

Depending on the marinade, you may still have to shop for specific items, but there are fewer ingredients involved. Chances are, you can find an easy marinade recipe for stuff you have on hand, anyway. Plus, the meal prep is a lot easier. You don’t have to spend half your Sunday making a batch of pasta to last the entire week.

Use Caesar Dressing as a Marinade for Just About Anything

If you love the pungent, salty kick of Caesar dressing in your salad, then why stop there? As it…

Try a m eal k it s ervice

If you like the idea of making a few fancier-than-usual meals every week, consider subscribing to a meal kit service t hey send you a box of ingredients every week, with a few recipes that go along with them. You’ll pay more with these plans than if you were to plan on your own, but y ou’ll get a decent dish that you’ve maybe never tried before, for less than a restaurant. Plus, they’re kind of fun.

Meal planning isn’t exactly difficult but it’s just another routine you have to maintain. If you’re not good at organizing your dinners or you just don’t feel like taking the time to do it each week, you can still eat at home without painstakingly planning each meal.

This story was originally published in December 2016 and was updated on January 19, 2021 with recent information and to meet Lifehacker style guidelines.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

I feel like I’ve tried SOOO many versions of meal planning. From just buying staple ingredients to making a menu every week. Im terrible at all of it. I get sick of the same food every single week and need variety. Most people I know seem able to eat a sandwhich everyday for lunch or whatever and be fine but that drives me crazy.

We finally switched to doing blue apron Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday I work out so we do a “fend for yourself” night, Friday and Saturday the SO works at night so I just make one person meals which I can vary however I like and we make lunch together on Saturday. Sunday we go out for breakfast then make a dinner together. Sunday night is really the only meal we have to plan for now and that is something I can handle.

Its not a perfect system but right now it works and I dont suspect we will do it forever. e


What to Do When Meal Planning Never Seems to Work for You

It’s easy enough to set up a meal p lan , but maintaining it is a different story. Maybe you don’t have the patience to dig up recipes every week, or m aybe you just get too busy. Whatever the scenario, if meal planning hasn’t clicked with you, here are five alternatives that don’t involve eating out.

How to Plan Your Weekly Meals, Stress Free

For many of us, cooking dinner every night is a frustrating, time-consuming process, even if you…

Buy f lexible i ngredients

For me, meal planning is hard to maintain partly because I make it too complicated. I look for fancy, complex recipes that might be fun when I have extra time on my hands, but for a quick, after- work meal, they aren’t ideal. Rather than look for specific ingredients for intricate recipes, buy some generic staples you can mix and match . Here’s how one of our readers put it :

With this method, you have to learn to wing it in the kitchen a little, but if you can master a few basics , like grilled chicken , a decent salad , or stir fry , you can make those your go-to meals and mix up the seasoning, marinade, or sides to make it interesting.

10 Dishes and Drinks Everyone Should Know How to Make

Whether you have trouble boiling water or you know your way around an immersion circulator, there…

Stick to a f ormula

Similarly, if you’re already at the store, a few basic meal formulas can help you figure out what ingredients to buy. For example, a decent slow cooker meal consists of five basics :

  • Protein (beans, tofu, meat)
  • Vegetables
  • Liquid, like vegetable stock
  • Herbs
  • Flavor boosters, like parmesan

With a formula, you don’t need some recipe list or app to tell you what to buy just pick up some flexible staples that fit the formula. Here are some other meals with easy-to-follow formulas:

  • Veggie bowls : Grain + green + bean
  • Stir fry : Protein + veggies + aromatics + sauce
  • Pasta dinner: Pasta + seasonal veggies + meat

It’s up to you to figure out what works well together , but this gives you a guideline that’s easy to follow so you can shop efficiently, even without a plan.

Free Yourself from Recipes With a Few Golden Cooking Ratios

Following a recipe is a great way to get started in the kitchen. However, once you’ve gotten the…

Use s omeone e lse’s p lan

Templates are the perfect tool for meal planning. Pick out a few recipes, list their ingredients, then just grab your list when you go to the grocery store. Or, better yet, use a template someone else has already created .

For example, Life As Mom has a handful of pre-made meal plans you can save or print out. They include links to the recipes you need, along with weekly shopping lists. Greatist has a pre-made grocery list when shopping for one . Save or bookmark the site, pull it up in-store, and buy what you need. When you’re ready to cook, just look up the corresponding recipes.

Make 20 Meals to Feed a Family of Four for $150 and One Trip to Costco

Costco is one of the best places to buy quality ingredients in bulk and save money on food. With…

Just p rep a m arinade or s easoning b lend

Rather than plan an entire week’s worth of different meals, plan the marinade instead . Prep a few different marinades, rubs, or seasoning mixes in advance. Then you can make the same thing every day in different marinades or seasonings, or mix and match to keep your dinners interesting. It’s a lot less time consuming and you have fewer ingredients to keep up with. You can make a decent marinade with just a few ingredients that you may already have at home. Food52 breaks down the formula:

Olive oil + garlic + acidic liquid (like lemon juice or vinegar) + aromatic herb (like cilantro or basil).

To mix things up a bit, here are a couple of recipes for all-purpose marinades:

Depending on the marinade, you may still have to shop for specific items, but there are fewer ingredients involved. Chances are, you can find an easy marinade recipe for stuff you have on hand, anyway. Plus, the meal prep is a lot easier. You don’t have to spend half your Sunday making a batch of pasta to last the entire week.

Use Caesar Dressing as a Marinade for Just About Anything

If you love the pungent, salty kick of Caesar dressing in your salad, then why stop there? As it…

Try a m eal k it s ervice

If you like the idea of making a few fancier-than-usual meals every week, consider subscribing to a meal kit service t hey send you a box of ingredients every week, with a few recipes that go along with them. You’ll pay more with these plans than if you were to plan on your own, but y ou’ll get a decent dish that you’ve maybe never tried before, for less than a restaurant. Plus, they’re kind of fun.

Meal planning isn’t exactly difficult but it’s just another routine you have to maintain. If you’re not good at organizing your dinners or you just don’t feel like taking the time to do it each week, you can still eat at home without painstakingly planning each meal.

This story was originally published in December 2016 and was updated on January 19, 2021 with recent information and to meet Lifehacker style guidelines.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

I feel like I’ve tried SOOO many versions of meal planning. From just buying staple ingredients to making a menu every week. Im terrible at all of it. I get sick of the same food every single week and need variety. Most people I know seem able to eat a sandwhich everyday for lunch or whatever and be fine but that drives me crazy.

We finally switched to doing blue apron Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday I work out so we do a “fend for yourself” night, Friday and Saturday the SO works at night so I just make one person meals which I can vary however I like and we make lunch together on Saturday. Sunday we go out for breakfast then make a dinner together. Sunday night is really the only meal we have to plan for now and that is something I can handle.

Its not a perfect system but right now it works and I dont suspect we will do it forever. e


What to Do When Meal Planning Never Seems to Work for You

It’s easy enough to set up a meal p lan , but maintaining it is a different story. Maybe you don’t have the patience to dig up recipes every week, or m aybe you just get too busy. Whatever the scenario, if meal planning hasn’t clicked with you, here are five alternatives that don’t involve eating out.

How to Plan Your Weekly Meals, Stress Free

For many of us, cooking dinner every night is a frustrating, time-consuming process, even if you…

Buy f lexible i ngredients

For me, meal planning is hard to maintain partly because I make it too complicated. I look for fancy, complex recipes that might be fun when I have extra time on my hands, but for a quick, after- work meal, they aren’t ideal. Rather than look for specific ingredients for intricate recipes, buy some generic staples you can mix and match . Here’s how one of our readers put it :

With this method, you have to learn to wing it in the kitchen a little, but if you can master a few basics , like grilled chicken , a decent salad , or stir fry , you can make those your go-to meals and mix up the seasoning, marinade, or sides to make it interesting.

10 Dishes and Drinks Everyone Should Know How to Make

Whether you have trouble boiling water or you know your way around an immersion circulator, there…

Stick to a f ormula

Similarly, if you’re already at the store, a few basic meal formulas can help you figure out what ingredients to buy. For example, a decent slow cooker meal consists of five basics :

  • Protein (beans, tofu, meat)
  • Vegetables
  • Liquid, like vegetable stock
  • Herbs
  • Flavor boosters, like parmesan

With a formula, you don’t need some recipe list or app to tell you what to buy just pick up some flexible staples that fit the formula. Here are some other meals with easy-to-follow formulas:

  • Veggie bowls : Grain + green + bean
  • Stir fry : Protein + veggies + aromatics + sauce
  • Pasta dinner: Pasta + seasonal veggies + meat

It’s up to you to figure out what works well together , but this gives you a guideline that’s easy to follow so you can shop efficiently, even without a plan.

Free Yourself from Recipes With a Few Golden Cooking Ratios

Following a recipe is a great way to get started in the kitchen. However, once you’ve gotten the…

Use s omeone e lse’s p lan

Templates are the perfect tool for meal planning. Pick out a few recipes, list their ingredients, then just grab your list when you go to the grocery store. Or, better yet, use a template someone else has already created .

For example, Life As Mom has a handful of pre-made meal plans you can save or print out. They include links to the recipes you need, along with weekly shopping lists. Greatist has a pre-made grocery list when shopping for one . Save or bookmark the site, pull it up in-store, and buy what you need. When you’re ready to cook, just look up the corresponding recipes.

Make 20 Meals to Feed a Family of Four for $150 and One Trip to Costco

Costco is one of the best places to buy quality ingredients in bulk and save money on food. With…

Just p rep a m arinade or s easoning b lend

Rather than plan an entire week’s worth of different meals, plan the marinade instead . Prep a few different marinades, rubs, or seasoning mixes in advance. Then you can make the same thing every day in different marinades or seasonings, or mix and match to keep your dinners interesting. It’s a lot less time consuming and you have fewer ingredients to keep up with. You can make a decent marinade with just a few ingredients that you may already have at home. Food52 breaks down the formula:

Olive oil + garlic + acidic liquid (like lemon juice or vinegar) + aromatic herb (like cilantro or basil).

To mix things up a bit, here are a couple of recipes for all-purpose marinades:

Depending on the marinade, you may still have to shop for specific items, but there are fewer ingredients involved. Chances are, you can find an easy marinade recipe for stuff you have on hand, anyway. Plus, the meal prep is a lot easier. You don’t have to spend half your Sunday making a batch of pasta to last the entire week.

Use Caesar Dressing as a Marinade for Just About Anything

If you love the pungent, salty kick of Caesar dressing in your salad, then why stop there? As it…

Try a m eal k it s ervice

If you like the idea of making a few fancier-than-usual meals every week, consider subscribing to a meal kit service t hey send you a box of ingredients every week, with a few recipes that go along with them. You’ll pay more with these plans than if you were to plan on your own, but y ou’ll get a decent dish that you’ve maybe never tried before, for less than a restaurant. Plus, they’re kind of fun.

Meal planning isn’t exactly difficult but it’s just another routine you have to maintain. If you’re not good at organizing your dinners or you just don’t feel like taking the time to do it each week, you can still eat at home without painstakingly planning each meal.

This story was originally published in December 2016 and was updated on January 19, 2021 with recent information and to meet Lifehacker style guidelines.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

I feel like I’ve tried SOOO many versions of meal planning. From just buying staple ingredients to making a menu every week. Im terrible at all of it. I get sick of the same food every single week and need variety. Most people I know seem able to eat a sandwhich everyday for lunch or whatever and be fine but that drives me crazy.

We finally switched to doing blue apron Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday I work out so we do a “fend for yourself” night, Friday and Saturday the SO works at night so I just make one person meals which I can vary however I like and we make lunch together on Saturday. Sunday we go out for breakfast then make a dinner together. Sunday night is really the only meal we have to plan for now and that is something I can handle.

Its not a perfect system but right now it works and I dont suspect we will do it forever. e


What to Do When Meal Planning Never Seems to Work for You

It’s easy enough to set up a meal p lan , but maintaining it is a different story. Maybe you don’t have the patience to dig up recipes every week, or m aybe you just get too busy. Whatever the scenario, if meal planning hasn’t clicked with you, here are five alternatives that don’t involve eating out.

How to Plan Your Weekly Meals, Stress Free

For many of us, cooking dinner every night is a frustrating, time-consuming process, even if you…

Buy f lexible i ngredients

For me, meal planning is hard to maintain partly because I make it too complicated. I look for fancy, complex recipes that might be fun when I have extra time on my hands, but for a quick, after- work meal, they aren’t ideal. Rather than look for specific ingredients for intricate recipes, buy some generic staples you can mix and match . Here’s how one of our readers put it :

With this method, you have to learn to wing it in the kitchen a little, but if you can master a few basics , like grilled chicken , a decent salad , or stir fry , you can make those your go-to meals and mix up the seasoning, marinade, or sides to make it interesting.

10 Dishes and Drinks Everyone Should Know How to Make

Whether you have trouble boiling water or you know your way around an immersion circulator, there…

Stick to a f ormula

Similarly, if you’re already at the store, a few basic meal formulas can help you figure out what ingredients to buy. For example, a decent slow cooker meal consists of five basics :

  • Protein (beans, tofu, meat)
  • Vegetables
  • Liquid, like vegetable stock
  • Herbs
  • Flavor boosters, like parmesan

With a formula, you don’t need some recipe list or app to tell you what to buy just pick up some flexible staples that fit the formula. Here are some other meals with easy-to-follow formulas:

  • Veggie bowls : Grain + green + bean
  • Stir fry : Protein + veggies + aromatics + sauce
  • Pasta dinner: Pasta + seasonal veggies + meat

It’s up to you to figure out what works well together , but this gives you a guideline that’s easy to follow so you can shop efficiently, even without a plan.

Free Yourself from Recipes With a Few Golden Cooking Ratios

Following a recipe is a great way to get started in the kitchen. However, once you’ve gotten the…

Use s omeone e lse’s p lan

Templates are the perfect tool for meal planning. Pick out a few recipes, list their ingredients, then just grab your list when you go to the grocery store. Or, better yet, use a template someone else has already created .

For example, Life As Mom has a handful of pre-made meal plans you can save or print out. They include links to the recipes you need, along with weekly shopping lists. Greatist has a pre-made grocery list when shopping for one . Save or bookmark the site, pull it up in-store, and buy what you need. When you’re ready to cook, just look up the corresponding recipes.

Make 20 Meals to Feed a Family of Four for $150 and One Trip to Costco

Costco is one of the best places to buy quality ingredients in bulk and save money on food. With…

Just p rep a m arinade or s easoning b lend

Rather than plan an entire week’s worth of different meals, plan the marinade instead . Prep a few different marinades, rubs, or seasoning mixes in advance. Then you can make the same thing every day in different marinades or seasonings, or mix and match to keep your dinners interesting. It’s a lot less time consuming and you have fewer ingredients to keep up with. You can make a decent marinade with just a few ingredients that you may already have at home. Food52 breaks down the formula:

Olive oil + garlic + acidic liquid (like lemon juice or vinegar) + aromatic herb (like cilantro or basil).

To mix things up a bit, here are a couple of recipes for all-purpose marinades:

Depending on the marinade, you may still have to shop for specific items, but there are fewer ingredients involved. Chances are, you can find an easy marinade recipe for stuff you have on hand, anyway. Plus, the meal prep is a lot easier. You don’t have to spend half your Sunday making a batch of pasta to last the entire week.

Use Caesar Dressing as a Marinade for Just About Anything

If you love the pungent, salty kick of Caesar dressing in your salad, then why stop there? As it…

Try a m eal k it s ervice

If you like the idea of making a few fancier-than-usual meals every week, consider subscribing to a meal kit service t hey send you a box of ingredients every week, with a few recipes that go along with them. You’ll pay more with these plans than if you were to plan on your own, but y ou’ll get a decent dish that you’ve maybe never tried before, for less than a restaurant. Plus, they’re kind of fun.

Meal planning isn’t exactly difficult but it’s just another routine you have to maintain. If you’re not good at organizing your dinners or you just don’t feel like taking the time to do it each week, you can still eat at home without painstakingly planning each meal.

This story was originally published in December 2016 and was updated on January 19, 2021 with recent information and to meet Lifehacker style guidelines.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

I feel like I’ve tried SOOO many versions of meal planning. From just buying staple ingredients to making a menu every week. Im terrible at all of it. I get sick of the same food every single week and need variety. Most people I know seem able to eat a sandwhich everyday for lunch or whatever and be fine but that drives me crazy.

We finally switched to doing blue apron Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday I work out so we do a “fend for yourself” night, Friday and Saturday the SO works at night so I just make one person meals which I can vary however I like and we make lunch together on Saturday. Sunday we go out for breakfast then make a dinner together. Sunday night is really the only meal we have to plan for now and that is something I can handle.

Its not a perfect system but right now it works and I dont suspect we will do it forever. e


What to Do When Meal Planning Never Seems to Work for You

It’s easy enough to set up a meal p lan , but maintaining it is a different story. Maybe you don’t have the patience to dig up recipes every week, or m aybe you just get too busy. Whatever the scenario, if meal planning hasn’t clicked with you, here are five alternatives that don’t involve eating out.

How to Plan Your Weekly Meals, Stress Free

For many of us, cooking dinner every night is a frustrating, time-consuming process, even if you…

Buy f lexible i ngredients

For me, meal planning is hard to maintain partly because I make it too complicated. I look for fancy, complex recipes that might be fun when I have extra time on my hands, but for a quick, after- work meal, they aren’t ideal. Rather than look for specific ingredients for intricate recipes, buy some generic staples you can mix and match . Here’s how one of our readers put it :

With this method, you have to learn to wing it in the kitchen a little, but if you can master a few basics , like grilled chicken , a decent salad , or stir fry , you can make those your go-to meals and mix up the seasoning, marinade, or sides to make it interesting.

10 Dishes and Drinks Everyone Should Know How to Make

Whether you have trouble boiling water or you know your way around an immersion circulator, there…

Stick to a f ormula

Similarly, if you’re already at the store, a few basic meal formulas can help you figure out what ingredients to buy. For example, a decent slow cooker meal consists of five basics :

  • Protein (beans, tofu, meat)
  • Vegetables
  • Liquid, like vegetable stock
  • Herbs
  • Flavor boosters, like parmesan

With a formula, you don’t need some recipe list or app to tell you what to buy just pick up some flexible staples that fit the formula. Here are some other meals with easy-to-follow formulas:

  • Veggie bowls : Grain + green + bean
  • Stir fry : Protein + veggies + aromatics + sauce
  • Pasta dinner: Pasta + seasonal veggies + meat

It’s up to you to figure out what works well together , but this gives you a guideline that’s easy to follow so you can shop efficiently, even without a plan.

Free Yourself from Recipes With a Few Golden Cooking Ratios

Following a recipe is a great way to get started in the kitchen. However, once you’ve gotten the…

Use s omeone e lse’s p lan

Templates are the perfect tool for meal planning. Pick out a few recipes, list their ingredients, then just grab your list when you go to the grocery store. Or, better yet, use a template someone else has already created .

For example, Life As Mom has a handful of pre-made meal plans you can save or print out. They include links to the recipes you need, along with weekly shopping lists. Greatist has a pre-made grocery list when shopping for one . Save or bookmark the site, pull it up in-store, and buy what you need. When you’re ready to cook, just look up the corresponding recipes.

Make 20 Meals to Feed a Family of Four for $150 and One Trip to Costco

Costco is one of the best places to buy quality ingredients in bulk and save money on food. With…

Just p rep a m arinade or s easoning b lend

Rather than plan an entire week’s worth of different meals, plan the marinade instead . Prep a few different marinades, rubs, or seasoning mixes in advance. Then you can make the same thing every day in different marinades or seasonings, or mix and match to keep your dinners interesting. It’s a lot less time consuming and you have fewer ingredients to keep up with. You can make a decent marinade with just a few ingredients that you may already have at home. Food52 breaks down the formula:

Olive oil + garlic + acidic liquid (like lemon juice or vinegar) + aromatic herb (like cilantro or basil).

To mix things up a bit, here are a couple of recipes for all-purpose marinades:

Depending on the marinade, you may still have to shop for specific items, but there are fewer ingredients involved. Chances are, you can find an easy marinade recipe for stuff you have on hand, anyway. Plus, the meal prep is a lot easier. You don’t have to spend half your Sunday making a batch of pasta to last the entire week.

Use Caesar Dressing as a Marinade for Just About Anything

If you love the pungent, salty kick of Caesar dressing in your salad, then why stop there? As it…

Try a m eal k it s ervice

If you like the idea of making a few fancier-than-usual meals every week, consider subscribing to a meal kit service t hey send you a box of ingredients every week, with a few recipes that go along with them. You’ll pay more with these plans than if you were to plan on your own, but y ou’ll get a decent dish that you’ve maybe never tried before, for less than a restaurant. Plus, they’re kind of fun.

Meal planning isn’t exactly difficult but it’s just another routine you have to maintain. If you’re not good at organizing your dinners or you just don’t feel like taking the time to do it each week, you can still eat at home without painstakingly planning each meal.

This story was originally published in December 2016 and was updated on January 19, 2021 with recent information and to meet Lifehacker style guidelines.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

I feel like I’ve tried SOOO many versions of meal planning. From just buying staple ingredients to making a menu every week. Im terrible at all of it. I get sick of the same food every single week and need variety. Most people I know seem able to eat a sandwhich everyday for lunch or whatever and be fine but that drives me crazy.

We finally switched to doing blue apron Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday I work out so we do a “fend for yourself” night, Friday and Saturday the SO works at night so I just make one person meals which I can vary however I like and we make lunch together on Saturday. Sunday we go out for breakfast then make a dinner together. Sunday night is really the only meal we have to plan for now and that is something I can handle.

Its not a perfect system but right now it works and I dont suspect we will do it forever. e


What to Do When Meal Planning Never Seems to Work for You

It’s easy enough to set up a meal p lan , but maintaining it is a different story. Maybe you don’t have the patience to dig up recipes every week, or m aybe you just get too busy. Whatever the scenario, if meal planning hasn’t clicked with you, here are five alternatives that don’t involve eating out.

How to Plan Your Weekly Meals, Stress Free

For many of us, cooking dinner every night is a frustrating, time-consuming process, even if you…

Buy f lexible i ngredients

For me, meal planning is hard to maintain partly because I make it too complicated. I look for fancy, complex recipes that might be fun when I have extra time on my hands, but for a quick, after- work meal, they aren’t ideal. Rather than look for specific ingredients for intricate recipes, buy some generic staples you can mix and match . Here’s how one of our readers put it :

With this method, you have to learn to wing it in the kitchen a little, but if you can master a few basics , like grilled chicken , a decent salad , or stir fry , you can make those your go-to meals and mix up the seasoning, marinade, or sides to make it interesting.

10 Dishes and Drinks Everyone Should Know How to Make

Whether you have trouble boiling water or you know your way around an immersion circulator, there…

Stick to a f ormula

Similarly, if you’re already at the store, a few basic meal formulas can help you figure out what ingredients to buy. For example, a decent slow cooker meal consists of five basics :

  • Protein (beans, tofu, meat)
  • Vegetables
  • Liquid, like vegetable stock
  • Herbs
  • Flavor boosters, like parmesan

With a formula, you don’t need some recipe list or app to tell you what to buy just pick up some flexible staples that fit the formula. Here are some other meals with easy-to-follow formulas:

  • Veggie bowls : Grain + green + bean
  • Stir fry : Protein + veggies + aromatics + sauce
  • Pasta dinner: Pasta + seasonal veggies + meat

It’s up to you to figure out what works well together , but this gives you a guideline that’s easy to follow so you can shop efficiently, even without a plan.

Free Yourself from Recipes With a Few Golden Cooking Ratios

Following a recipe is a great way to get started in the kitchen. However, once you’ve gotten the…

Use s omeone e lse’s p lan

Templates are the perfect tool for meal planning. Pick out a few recipes, list their ingredients, then just grab your list when you go to the grocery store. Or, better yet, use a template someone else has already created .

For example, Life As Mom has a handful of pre-made meal plans you can save or print out. They include links to the recipes you need, along with weekly shopping lists. Greatist has a pre-made grocery list when shopping for one . Save or bookmark the site, pull it up in-store, and buy what you need. When you’re ready to cook, just look up the corresponding recipes.

Make 20 Meals to Feed a Family of Four for $150 and One Trip to Costco

Costco is one of the best places to buy quality ingredients in bulk and save money on food. With…

Just p rep a m arinade or s easoning b lend

Rather than plan an entire week’s worth of different meals, plan the marinade instead . Prep a few different marinades, rubs, or seasoning mixes in advance. Then you can make the same thing every day in different marinades or seasonings, or mix and match to keep your dinners interesting. It’s a lot less time consuming and you have fewer ingredients to keep up with. You can make a decent marinade with just a few ingredients that you may already have at home. Food52 breaks down the formula:

Olive oil + garlic + acidic liquid (like lemon juice or vinegar) + aromatic herb (like cilantro or basil).

To mix things up a bit, here are a couple of recipes for all-purpose marinades:

Depending on the marinade, you may still have to shop for specific items, but there are fewer ingredients involved. Chances are, you can find an easy marinade recipe for stuff you have on hand, anyway. Plus, the meal prep is a lot easier. You don’t have to spend half your Sunday making a batch of pasta to last the entire week.

Use Caesar Dressing as a Marinade for Just About Anything

If you love the pungent, salty kick of Caesar dressing in your salad, then why stop there? As it…

Try a m eal k it s ervice

If you like the idea of making a few fancier-than-usual meals every week, consider subscribing to a meal kit service t hey send you a box of ingredients every week, with a few recipes that go along with them. You’ll pay more with these plans than if you were to plan on your own, but y ou’ll get a decent dish that you’ve maybe never tried before, for less than a restaurant. Plus, they’re kind of fun.

Meal planning isn’t exactly difficult but it’s just another routine you have to maintain. If you’re not good at organizing your dinners or you just don’t feel like taking the time to do it each week, you can still eat at home without painstakingly planning each meal.

This story was originally published in December 2016 and was updated on January 19, 2021 with recent information and to meet Lifehacker style guidelines.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

I feel like I’ve tried SOOO many versions of meal planning. From just buying staple ingredients to making a menu every week. Im terrible at all of it. I get sick of the same food every single week and need variety. Most people I know seem able to eat a sandwhich everyday for lunch or whatever and be fine but that drives me crazy.

We finally switched to doing blue apron Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday I work out so we do a “fend for yourself” night, Friday and Saturday the SO works at night so I just make one person meals which I can vary however I like and we make lunch together on Saturday. Sunday we go out for breakfast then make a dinner together. Sunday night is really the only meal we have to plan for now and that is something I can handle.

Its not a perfect system but right now it works and I dont suspect we will do it forever. e


What to Do When Meal Planning Never Seems to Work for You

It’s easy enough to set up a meal p lan , but maintaining it is a different story. Maybe you don’t have the patience to dig up recipes every week, or m aybe you just get too busy. Whatever the scenario, if meal planning hasn’t clicked with you, here are five alternatives that don’t involve eating out.

How to Plan Your Weekly Meals, Stress Free

For many of us, cooking dinner every night is a frustrating, time-consuming process, even if you…

Buy f lexible i ngredients

For me, meal planning is hard to maintain partly because I make it too complicated. I look for fancy, complex recipes that might be fun when I have extra time on my hands, but for a quick, after- work meal, they aren’t ideal. Rather than look for specific ingredients for intricate recipes, buy some generic staples you can mix and match . Here’s how one of our readers put it :

With this method, you have to learn to wing it in the kitchen a little, but if you can master a few basics , like grilled chicken , a decent salad , or stir fry , you can make those your go-to meals and mix up the seasoning, marinade, or sides to make it interesting.

10 Dishes and Drinks Everyone Should Know How to Make

Whether you have trouble boiling water or you know your way around an immersion circulator, there…

Stick to a f ormula

Similarly, if you’re already at the store, a few basic meal formulas can help you figure out what ingredients to buy. For example, a decent slow cooker meal consists of five basics :

  • Protein (beans, tofu, meat)
  • Vegetables
  • Liquid, like vegetable stock
  • Herbs
  • Flavor boosters, like parmesan

With a formula, you don’t need some recipe list or app to tell you what to buy just pick up some flexible staples that fit the formula. Here are some other meals with easy-to-follow formulas:

  • Veggie bowls : Grain + green + bean
  • Stir fry : Protein + veggies + aromatics + sauce
  • Pasta dinner: Pasta + seasonal veggies + meat

It’s up to you to figure out what works well together , but this gives you a guideline that’s easy to follow so you can shop efficiently, even without a plan.

Free Yourself from Recipes With a Few Golden Cooking Ratios

Following a recipe is a great way to get started in the kitchen. However, once you’ve gotten the…

Use s omeone e lse’s p lan

Templates are the perfect tool for meal planning. Pick out a few recipes, list their ingredients, then just grab your list when you go to the grocery store. Or, better yet, use a template someone else has already created .

For example, Life As Mom has a handful of pre-made meal plans you can save or print out. They include links to the recipes you need, along with weekly shopping lists. Greatist has a pre-made grocery list when shopping for one . Save or bookmark the site, pull it up in-store, and buy what you need. When you’re ready to cook, just look up the corresponding recipes.

Make 20 Meals to Feed a Family of Four for $150 and One Trip to Costco

Costco is one of the best places to buy quality ingredients in bulk and save money on food. With…

Just p rep a m arinade or s easoning b lend

Rather than plan an entire week’s worth of different meals, plan the marinade instead . Prep a few different marinades, rubs, or seasoning mixes in advance. Then you can make the same thing every day in different marinades or seasonings, or mix and match to keep your dinners interesting. It’s a lot less time consuming and you have fewer ingredients to keep up with. You can make a decent marinade with just a few ingredients that you may already have at home. Food52 breaks down the formula:

Olive oil + garlic + acidic liquid (like lemon juice or vinegar) + aromatic herb (like cilantro or basil).

To mix things up a bit, here are a couple of recipes for all-purpose marinades:

Depending on the marinade, you may still have to shop for specific items, but there are fewer ingredients involved. Chances are, you can find an easy marinade recipe for stuff you have on hand, anyway. Plus, the meal prep is a lot easier. You don’t have to spend half your Sunday making a batch of pasta to last the entire week.

Use Caesar Dressing as a Marinade for Just About Anything

If you love the pungent, salty kick of Caesar dressing in your salad, then why stop there? As it…

Try a m eal k it s ervice

If you like the idea of making a few fancier-than-usual meals every week, consider subscribing to a meal kit service t hey send you a box of ingredients every week, with a few recipes that go along with them. You’ll pay more with these plans than if you were to plan on your own, but y ou’ll get a decent dish that you’ve maybe never tried before, for less than a restaurant. Plus, they’re kind of fun.

Meal planning isn’t exactly difficult but it’s just another routine you have to maintain. If you’re not good at organizing your dinners or you just don’t feel like taking the time to do it each week, you can still eat at home without painstakingly planning each meal.

This story was originally published in December 2016 and was updated on January 19, 2021 with recent information and to meet Lifehacker style guidelines.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

I feel like I’ve tried SOOO many versions of meal planning. From just buying staple ingredients to making a menu every week. Im terrible at all of it. I get sick of the same food every single week and need variety. Most people I know seem able to eat a sandwhich everyday for lunch or whatever and be fine but that drives me crazy.

We finally switched to doing blue apron Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday I work out so we do a “fend for yourself” night, Friday and Saturday the SO works at night so I just make one person meals which I can vary however I like and we make lunch together on Saturday. Sunday we go out for breakfast then make a dinner together. Sunday night is really the only meal we have to plan for now and that is something I can handle.

Its not a perfect system but right now it works and I dont suspect we will do it forever. e


What to Do When Meal Planning Never Seems to Work for You

It’s easy enough to set up a meal p lan , but maintaining it is a different story. Maybe you don’t have the patience to dig up recipes every week, or m aybe you just get too busy. Whatever the scenario, if meal planning hasn’t clicked with you, here are five alternatives that don’t involve eating out.

How to Plan Your Weekly Meals, Stress Free

For many of us, cooking dinner every night is a frustrating, time-consuming process, even if you…

Buy f lexible i ngredients

For me, meal planning is hard to maintain partly because I make it too complicated. I look for fancy, complex recipes that might be fun when I have extra time on my hands, but for a quick, after- work meal, they aren’t ideal. Rather than look for specific ingredients for intricate recipes, buy some generic staples you can mix and match . Here’s how one of our readers put it :

With this method, you have to learn to wing it in the kitchen a little, but if you can master a few basics , like grilled chicken , a decent salad , or stir fry , you can make those your go-to meals and mix up the seasoning, marinade, or sides to make it interesting.

10 Dishes and Drinks Everyone Should Know How to Make

Whether you have trouble boiling water or you know your way around an immersion circulator, there…

Stick to a f ormula

Similarly, if you’re already at the store, a few basic meal formulas can help you figure out what ingredients to buy. For example, a decent slow cooker meal consists of five basics :

  • Protein (beans, tofu, meat)
  • Vegetables
  • Liquid, like vegetable stock
  • Herbs
  • Flavor boosters, like parmesan

With a formula, you don’t need some recipe list or app to tell you what to buy just pick up some flexible staples that fit the formula. Here are some other meals with easy-to-follow formulas:

  • Veggie bowls : Grain + green + bean
  • Stir fry : Protein + veggies + aromatics + sauce
  • Pasta dinner: Pasta + seasonal veggies + meat

It’s up to you to figure out what works well together , but this gives you a guideline that’s easy to follow so you can shop efficiently, even without a plan.

Free Yourself from Recipes With a Few Golden Cooking Ratios

Following a recipe is a great way to get started in the kitchen. However, once you’ve gotten the…

Use s omeone e lse’s p lan

Templates are the perfect tool for meal planning. Pick out a few recipes, list their ingredients, then just grab your list when you go to the grocery store. Or, better yet, use a template someone else has already created .

For example, Life As Mom has a handful of pre-made meal plans you can save or print out. They include links to the recipes you need, along with weekly shopping lists. Greatist has a pre-made grocery list when shopping for one . Save or bookmark the site, pull it up in-store, and buy what you need. When you’re ready to cook, just look up the corresponding recipes.

Make 20 Meals to Feed a Family of Four for $150 and One Trip to Costco

Costco is one of the best places to buy quality ingredients in bulk and save money on food. With…

Just p rep a m arinade or s easoning b lend

Rather than plan an entire week’s worth of different meals, plan the marinade instead . Prep a few different marinades, rubs, or seasoning mixes in advance. Then you can make the same thing every day in different marinades or seasonings, or mix and match to keep your dinners interesting. It’s a lot less time consuming and you have fewer ingredients to keep up with. You can make a decent marinade with just a few ingredients that you may already have at home. Food52 breaks down the formula:

Olive oil + garlic + acidic liquid (like lemon juice or vinegar) + aromatic herb (like cilantro or basil).

To mix things up a bit, here are a couple of recipes for all-purpose marinades:

Depending on the marinade, you may still have to shop for specific items, but there are fewer ingredients involved. Chances are, you can find an easy marinade recipe for stuff you have on hand, anyway. Plus, the meal prep is a lot easier. You don’t have to spend half your Sunday making a batch of pasta to last the entire week.

Use Caesar Dressing as a Marinade for Just About Anything

If you love the pungent, salty kick of Caesar dressing in your salad, then why stop there? As it…

Try a m eal k it s ervice

If you like the idea of making a few fancier-than-usual meals every week, consider subscribing to a meal kit service t hey send you a box of ingredients every week, with a few recipes that go along with them. You’ll pay more with these plans than if you were to plan on your own, but y ou’ll get a decent dish that you’ve maybe never tried before, for less than a restaurant. Plus, they’re kind of fun.

Meal planning isn’t exactly difficult but it’s just another routine you have to maintain. If you’re not good at organizing your dinners or you just don’t feel like taking the time to do it each week, you can still eat at home without painstakingly planning each meal.

This story was originally published in December 2016 and was updated on January 19, 2021 with recent information and to meet Lifehacker style guidelines.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

I feel like I’ve tried SOOO many versions of meal planning. From just buying staple ingredients to making a menu every week. Im terrible at all of it. I get sick of the same food every single week and need variety. Most people I know seem able to eat a sandwhich everyday for lunch or whatever and be fine but that drives me crazy.

We finally switched to doing blue apron Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday I work out so we do a “fend for yourself” night, Friday and Saturday the SO works at night so I just make one person meals which I can vary however I like and we make lunch together on Saturday. Sunday we go out for breakfast then make a dinner together. Sunday night is really the only meal we have to plan for now and that is something I can handle.

Its not a perfect system but right now it works and I dont suspect we will do it forever. e


What to Do When Meal Planning Never Seems to Work for You

It’s easy enough to set up a meal p lan , but maintaining it is a different story. Maybe you don’t have the patience to dig up recipes every week, or m aybe you just get too busy. Whatever the scenario, if meal planning hasn’t clicked with you, here are five alternatives that don’t involve eating out.

How to Plan Your Weekly Meals, Stress Free

For many of us, cooking dinner every night is a frustrating, time-consuming process, even if you…

Buy f lexible i ngredients

For me, meal planning is hard to maintain partly because I make it too complicated. I look for fancy, complex recipes that might be fun when I have extra time on my hands, but for a quick, after- work meal, they aren’t ideal. Rather than look for specific ingredients for intricate recipes, buy some generic staples you can mix and match . Here’s how one of our readers put it :

With this method, you have to learn to wing it in the kitchen a little, but if you can master a few basics , like grilled chicken , a decent salad , or stir fry , you can make those your go-to meals and mix up the seasoning, marinade, or sides to make it interesting.

10 Dishes and Drinks Everyone Should Know How to Make

Whether you have trouble boiling water or you know your way around an immersion circulator, there…

Stick to a f ormula

Similarly, if you’re already at the store, a few basic meal formulas can help you figure out what ingredients to buy. For example, a decent slow cooker meal consists of five basics :

  • Protein (beans, tofu, meat)
  • Vegetables
  • Liquid, like vegetable stock
  • Herbs
  • Flavor boosters, like parmesan

With a formula, you don’t need some recipe list or app to tell you what to buy just pick up some flexible staples that fit the formula. Here are some other meals with easy-to-follow formulas:

  • Veggie bowls : Grain + green + bean
  • Stir fry : Protein + veggies + aromatics + sauce
  • Pasta dinner: Pasta + seasonal veggies + meat

It’s up to you to figure out what works well together , but this gives you a guideline that’s easy to follow so you can shop efficiently, even without a plan.

Free Yourself from Recipes With a Few Golden Cooking Ratios

Following a recipe is a great way to get started in the kitchen. However, once you’ve gotten the…

Use s omeone e lse’s p lan

Templates are the perfect tool for meal planning. Pick out a few recipes, list their ingredients, then just grab your list when you go to the grocery store. Or, better yet, use a template someone else has already created .

For example, Life As Mom has a handful of pre-made meal plans you can save or print out. They include links to the recipes you need, along with weekly shopping lists. Greatist has a pre-made grocery list when shopping for one . Save or bookmark the site, pull it up in-store, and buy what you need. When you’re ready to cook, just look up the corresponding recipes.

Make 20 Meals to Feed a Family of Four for $150 and One Trip to Costco

Costco is one of the best places to buy quality ingredients in bulk and save money on food. With…

Just p rep a m arinade or s easoning b lend

Rather than plan an entire week’s worth of different meals, plan the marinade instead . Prep a few different marinades, rubs, or seasoning mixes in advance. Then you can make the same thing every day in different marinades or seasonings, or mix and match to keep your dinners interesting. It’s a lot less time consuming and you have fewer ingredients to keep up with. You can make a decent marinade with just a few ingredients that you may already have at home. Food52 breaks down the formula:

Olive oil + garlic + acidic liquid (like lemon juice or vinegar) + aromatic herb (like cilantro or basil).

To mix things up a bit, here are a couple of recipes for all-purpose marinades:

Depending on the marinade, you may still have to shop for specific items, but there are fewer ingredients involved. Chances are, you can find an easy marinade recipe for stuff you have on hand, anyway. Plus, the meal prep is a lot easier. You don’t have to spend half your Sunday making a batch of pasta to last the entire week.

Use Caesar Dressing as a Marinade for Just About Anything

If you love the pungent, salty kick of Caesar dressing in your salad, then why stop there? As it…

Try a m eal k it s ervice

If you like the idea of making a few fancier-than-usual meals every week, consider subscribing to a meal kit service t hey send you a box of ingredients every week, with a few recipes that go along with them. You’ll pay more with these plans than if you were to plan on your own, but y ou’ll get a decent dish that you’ve maybe never tried before, for less than a restaurant. Plus, they’re kind of fun.

Meal planning isn’t exactly difficult but it’s just another routine you have to maintain. If you’re not good at organizing your dinners or you just don’t feel like taking the time to do it each week, you can still eat at home without painstakingly planning each meal.

This story was originally published in December 2016 and was updated on January 19, 2021 with recent information and to meet Lifehacker style guidelines.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

I feel like I’ve tried SOOO many versions of meal planning. From just buying staple ingredients to making a menu every week. Im terrible at all of it. I get sick of the same food every single week and need variety. Most people I know seem able to eat a sandwhich everyday for lunch or whatever and be fine but that drives me crazy.

We finally switched to doing blue apron Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday I work out so we do a “fend for yourself” night, Friday and Saturday the SO works at night so I just make one person meals which I can vary however I like and we make lunch together on Saturday. Sunday we go out for breakfast then make a dinner together. Sunday night is really the only meal we have to plan for now and that is something I can handle.

Its not a perfect system but right now it works and I dont suspect we will do it forever. e