Meal Planning Pointers

Plan well-balanced meals that contain foods from all of the basic food groups.

Begin your menu planning with the main dish. Next choose the vegetables side dish and/or salad and starch. Lastly, choose any relishes and a dessert.

Select recipes that look and taste good together and complement each other in color and texture. For example, if you are planning to serve a beef roast, consider serving a colorful vegetable to add eye appeal to the plate. If your main dish is soft in texture, such as fish, consider serving a crunch vegetable or salad to add contrast. Serve only one strong-flavored food per meal.

Make sure selected recipes can be prepared and served together in the allotted time frame. Two dishes that are baked at the same temperature can be cooked in the same oven without any adjustments to the baking time.

Rough out a cooking schedule, listing the recipes that can be prepared in advance, recipes that need to be started first because they require more cooking or chilling time and recipes that need to be prepared at the last minute.

Once your planning is complete, make a shopping list according to the layout of your grocery store to reduce shopping time.