Use seasonal foods in your meal plan. Since foods are generally cheaper in season, it will help save money. Strawberry shortcake with fresh strawberries may look good in winter, but if you are paying $5 a quart for them, that is not a frugal choice.
Use variety in your meal planning. Just because you cooked a big pot roast, doesn’t mean you should eat it for the next 4 days. Freeze some of the leftovers for another time.
Use your creativity to make meals appealing.
Your food textures should vary. You don’t want a whole meal full of just crunchy items.
You want a variety of tastes. If your meal contains all hot and spicy Mexican items, it would be good to offset that with something mild in your meal.
You want your meal to look good. You don’t want to serve all of the same colored foods in one meal. Use some garnishes to make things presentable.
Tips for organizing a meal plan
Begin with a basic menu. A good cook doesn’t usually make it up as they go along. They might deviate a little with a side dish, but their main food stays the same. Having a menu saves time and money.
You need to think ahead. While preparing your meal, you should be constantly thinking, “what is it that I can do next to complete my meal?’ When your meat is browning and you are waiting, peel some vegetables to be used in the meal. You also have to think about what foods you have to prep before cooking. Does your meat need to be thawed? Do I need to mix up my bread dough early enough to have it be done for dinner time?
Think about how long it takes to cook something. That way you can be prepared to start the meal on time.
You should plan some “make ahead foods.” If you have all last minute items for your menu, you are going to be running around trying to get them done. Plan some food that you can make and do ahead of time, that is a key.
Read the entire recipe before beginning to make sure you have all the ingredients.
Ask other good cooks what it is they do, or how they made something. Learn from the best.