Planning and Organizing Tips

Fast Ways to Plan and Prepare Meals 

Quick planning and fast preparation are key to having meals and snacks ready to “grab ‘n go.” Here are some tips to help get you started:

  • Give yourself time to plan. Before you go to sleep, think about the busy day ahead. Where will you be spending your time? Where can you easily stash food? Is there a refrigerator nearby? Microwave? How about a place to eat?

  • Think about “packability:” Plan meals or snacks that you can carry in your backpack, purse or briefcase and store in your desk drawer, locker or a cooler in your car. Buy a variety of foods so you don’t get tired of eating the same foods every day.

  • Cook once to eat three times: When cooking, make enough to pack a meal for tomorrow’s lunch or use plastic containers to freeze meals that you can easily “grab ‘n go.”

Organize Your Kitchen

  • Keep ‘em within arm’s length. Organize your kitchen so that everything you need for “grab ‘n go” snacks and meals are within arm’s length. Keep in stock things like paper bags, plastic bags, napkins and food containers.

  • Give them a shelf of their own. Create a shelf in your kitchen and/or refrigerator just for your “grab ‘n go” favorites.

  • Pack in plastic. Keep plastic containers on hand to store meal-sized portions in the refrigerator or freezer. In the morning, just grab a filled container to take to work or school or wherever you go.

Organize Your Shopping

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Watch the Webcasts

"Cooking on a Budget," and "Secrets to Cooking Up Calories," for more tips.

  • Buy single-packet servings. Buy peanut butter, jelly, cream cheese and other foods in single-packet servings you can just toss in your bag. If you have trouble finding these in your grocery store, there are countless varieties available online at restaurant supply stores. (Use the search phrase “restaurant supplies condiments.”)

  • Buy in bulk to save. You can save money by buying in bulk at discount stores and individually wrapping foods yourself in plastic wrap, plastic bags or foil.

  • Read food labels. Food labels will help you learn to choose foods that meet your goals. For more on food labels, see the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's website.

  • Keep an eye out for new ideas. Just look around you. “Grab ‘n go” options are everywhere. Check out the selection in convenience stores, vending machines, corner markets, food stands — even bookstores and sporting events.

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Updated 12/27/12