'Tis the season for New Years Resolutions, and the Millennial Menu is here to help you out. As we ring in the New Year, it's a great time to re-evaluate lifestyle choices and figure out ways to make yourself feel happier and healthier in the new year. Cooking more food at home is a simple way to boost your mood, your health, and your budget. Plus, it's why this blog exists!
Now is the perfect time to resolve to make one small change about the way you approach food in your life. Maybe you want to eat out a little bit less, or spend less money when you go to the grocery store. The Millennial Menu exists to encourage people to enjoy delicious, homemade food for a reasonable price. I'll be here throughout the year with a continuous stream of tasty, easy recipes and tips and tricks for navigating your grocery store and your kitchen to help you keep up with whatever your resolution is. Check out my suggestions for Millennial Menu-approved resolutions below and tips for fulfilling them. My own blog-related resolution this year is to improve my food photography, which will hopefully help to show you how delicious I know my recipes taste. Lucky you!
Avoid going to the grocery store without a list/plan. It's actually impossible for me to go to the grocery store and avoid throwing something in my cart that catches my eye. Suddenly I'm at the checkout counter and I've added $20 to my bill because something was on sale or looked good. We all fall victim to temptation, but walking into the store like a man on a mission will help you to minimize those unplanned impulse buys and save money. To help you with this, check out the Paprika app that I use religiously and profile in my Millennial Cooking Hack: Paprika post. Make your grocery list and bring it with you on your phone to stick to just the things you really need this week.
Resolution Suggestions: Always make a list before going to the store // Only buy what's on the list // Buy no more than 3 things that aren't on your list each trip to the grocery store.
Meal planning can sound like a drag, but putting the time in before your week even starts will ensure that your week goes smoother, is healthier, and costs you less. Think about what you might want to eat for the week and buy those ingredients ahead of time, so there's never a question of what you're having for dinner (or the temptation to order takeout instead because you don't have anything in your fridge). It will save you the time of having to run out to the grocery store to make something or because you forgot one item that you didn't plan ahead for. Even bigger, it will save you money on your takeout tab or the restaurant bill you'd have to pay otherwise. Start small, like committing to planning 2 or 3 meals a week at home. My favorite meal planning app is also the same app I use for my grocery list, and I wrote a whole post about it at my Millennial Cooking Hack: Paprika. It's your one-stop shop app for anything food related.
Resolution Suggestions: Plan 3 meals a week // Plan all weeknight dinners // Plan lunch for the week
Nothing hurts your wallet more than always buying your lunch out. Many folks are not morning people, however, and are not in the mood or state to pack a gourmet lunch before work every morning. It's easy to resort to going to the cafeteria or getting takeout or going out to lunch, but even $5 a day adds up to hundreds of dollars a year. Can you think of something you'd like to buy or do with hundreds of dollars, because I can! Bringing lunch can be easy, whether you like sandwiches, salads, or leftovers. Make bringing lunch possible by purchasing foods for lunch at the grocery store - deli meat, hummus and pretzels, fresh fruit, etc. that you can mix and match throughout the week. I make one big batch of lunch entrees (like soup, or a grain bowl, or pasta) to have every day of the week and I know my lunch is waiting for me each morning before I leave for work. Packing your lunch the night before can help too, and having things ready in the fridge to throw together in the morning - the sandwich is packed, the apple is ready, and your hummus is in a Tupperware. Spending 5-10 minutes the night before to make sure you have fuel for your day will make you a very happy camper when the hunger pains hit.
Resolution Suggestions: Bring lunch 2x a week // Bring lunch every day for a month // Only eat out or take-out lunch 3x a month // Bring lunch 4/5 days this week // Set a budget for eating out at lunch per month and don't go over it - bring your lunch the other days
This is a health one - breakfast is the most important meal of the day for so many reasons. Breakfast gives you energy, kickstarts your metabolism, helps you focus, and can even help you lose weight. Even if it's just something small, eating breakfast can make a big difference in your day. Try a power bar on the go, instant oatmeal, Greek yogurt, or a healthy cereal. I always have a smoothie and oatmeal that I prep at the beginning of the week or the night before, meaning my breakfast takes me 30 seconds to prepare and about 3 minutes to eat.
Resolution Suggestions: Eat breakfast before work everyday // Buy easy breakfasts on the go and eat one on the way to work
Make a meal based on what's on sale. Groceries can be expensive, but you really can find good deals if you're looking. To save money, pay attention to the price of what you're buying. Buying store brand all the time or only things in the middle of the shelves right in your line of sight will mean you're paying more. Look for lower-priced items at the top or bottom of the grocery store shelves and other good deals. Pay attention to the unit price, instead of just the price. I always check the weekly flyer that lists the sales at Stop & Shop that week before making my grocery list. If I see pork chops are on sale, I'll put them on my list to make my Cider & Sage Pork Chops recipe. It helps me to get the most bang for my buck and be conscious about why I'm choosing what I'm eating that week.
Resolution Suggestions: Only buy meat when it's on sale and freeze it until you need it (check out my FoodSaver post for tips on that!) // Try one store brand item a week // Pay attention to the weekly flyers that list the sales and plan at least 1 meal based on what's on sale that week // Use at least one coupon per trip to the store
Cook a few dinners a week at home. 1, 2, 3, 4 - whatever makes sense for you. Eating out is becoming more popular, and sometimes to eat out, you don't even have to go out. You can get virtually anything you want delivered to your door with the abundance of meal delivery options like Seamless. Americans spend more money on restaurants than groceries, and millennials spend 44% of their food dollars eating out. These statistics are why this blog exists, and why I'm passionate about helping people eat more delicious food at home, that they cook themselves. Not only will it save you money, it's healthier for you, too. I could write a book on the value of cooking for yourself (hey, maybe someday I will, with my recipes included!) but trust me, you'll feel better in so many ways: your wallet, your tummy, and you'll feel proud of yourself!
Resolution Suggestions: Cook 1 meal a week at home, on the weekends. Cook 2 weeknight meals at home. Cook one dish at the beginning of the week for lunch or a few dinners. Learn to like leftovers.
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