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5 Reasons Why Meal Planning is Worth the Effort
If you read my New Years Resolution post you know two of my resolutions were around eating more healthfully and trying to trim our expenses. You can read that post here. One of my tasks for meeting those goals was to be more consistent in planning our meals. I’ve found that for us there are 5 benefits to meal planning and I’m going to share those with you today.
- Avoid the dreaded “What’s for dinner” discussion
- Meal planning and shopping for that plan saves money
- Eat more healthfully
- Stop wasting food
- Reduce stress
What’s for Dinner?
Do you have this discussion at your house? We certainly do at ours if we enter the week without a plan. The discussion goes absolutely no where. It sounds something like this….What do you want for dinner? I don’t know…what do we have…followed by rooting around in the freezer. And the frozen food avalanche out of said freezer. I’m always afraid someone is going to break a toe or a foot from the pot roast or turkey that invariably falls out onto the garage or kitchen floor. This conversation can end several ways, cooking something on the fly, eating at 10pm, ordering pizza or heading out to a restaurant. Or if the dreaded frozen food scenario plays out, it could be a trip to the emergency room. I’m a planner at heart. If we have a plan we skip this conversation.
Meal Planning and Shopping for that Plan Saves Money
If we have a plan for the week or the month for that matter, we are less likely to order take-out, go out for dinner or grab lunch on the run. Creating our meal plan and shopping for it in one trip also saves money and time. There have been times where I’ve stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work 3-4 times a week. Planning what we were eating on the fly. There are always extra’s that end up in the cart that I wouldn’t have purchased on a single trip to the store.
Planning meals and having the leftovers for lunch the next day or day after saves me from going to the café at work or the impulse buys at the grocery store. Avoiding lunch in the café alone can save anywhere from $6-$8 per day or if I were to go to restaurant even more!
Eat More Healthfully
Meal planning and sticking to the plan means we have more balanced meals, control calories and limit process foods. Planning means I can have a beautiful salad for lunch that I made for myself, with knowledge of every ingredient. Something tells me my blackened chicken salad is a much better choice than hitting the Thursday Nacho Bar at work.
Stop Wasting Food
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve gone to the store over the weekend with a loose, undocumented plan and bought all these random ingredients that just end up in the trash two weeks later. Ricotta cheese for the unmade ravioli, cucumbers for the Greek salad or Tzatziki that didn’t get made. Meal Planning and sticking to the plan makes sure we use all the ingredients we purchase for the plan. Yes, sadly we still do sometimes waste food or have it go bad. Meal Planning minimizes that waste.
After a full day at work, the commute home etc. The last thing I want to do is stress about what we are going to eat. Or have the dreaded “what’s for dinner” conversation. Having a plan is something either Jeff or I can execute. I post it on our chalk board in the kitchen each week. Then Jeff and I both know what the plan is. Jeff works from home and many times can start the preparation before I get home. What a nice surprise that is!
Tips for Meal Planning
In previous efforts, I’ve done week by week and we focus on dinner, usually eating leftovers for breakfast and lunch. Going forward I’m going to try and do a monthly meal plan. I’m going to start with our favorite recipes and put those on the calendar. The next step will be adding days where we know we will be away from home, dinner plans out, meetings and events away from home. Then I’m going to add new recipe I’ve pinned, gotten from a cookbook or developed myself. I’ll fill those in and then create my shopping list for each week. Trying to pair and maximize ingredients so we don’t waste any food and we maximize left overs. We also try to cook something on Saturday or Sunday in a large quantity that we can freeze for easy meals. We are huge fans of our Food Saver. Ask everyone in our family, they have all received them as gifts. We usually fill our Monday dinner slot with those to reduce the back to work shock.
Meal Planning Resources
Check out the great these great links for meal planning ideas:
How to Get the Most From a Weekly Meal Plan from Finding Time to Fly
Benefits of Meal Planning and Why You Should Start Today from The Country Chic Cottage
Steps for Meal Planning from Premediated Leftovers
Or sign up for a premade meal plan from Café Delites
Do you have any tips for meal planning? I’d love to hear how you make a plan and make it work for your family. Please leave a comment and share!