Meal planning is all the rage these days and with really good reason. If you are wondering, “Why is meal planning so important?’ The answer is it that learning how to make a meal plan has so many advantages. In fact, there are so many benefits of meal planning that it is hard to not sound like I am gushing! Meal planning is a well-known way to save time and money. If that wasn’t enough, creating a meal plan also helps you go green and has health benefits too! In today’s post I will share meal planning benefits and tips for how to make a weekly meal plan.
4 Benefits Of Meal Planning
Why is meal planning so important?
The answer to why meal planning is so important may actually be different for different people because of which benefits we value most.
Meal Planning Saves You Money
When you plan ahead, it means you only have to buy what you need. In addition to eliminating impulsive grocery stores buys, it means you will be prepared to fix the meal you desire. This can save you from finding out last minute that you have nothing in the pantry and going out to eat instead. Meal planning means that you will be able to fix more things from scratch and save money on prepared foods.
Meal Planning Saves Time
Because you can take a few minutes to plan ahead for the week, it will save you from the daily stress of coming up with something for dinner each day. Meal planning in advance also allows you to get meal prep out of the way. It is nice to do this ahead of time for days that may be busy during the week. You can go ahead and chop all the veggies on Sunday for that work late Tuesday, for example.
Meal Planning Saves The Planet
OK, so that was dramatic but it really does contribute toward a healthier planet in many ways. It reduces the amount of gas used, by saving unnecessary trips to the store. It also cuts down on food waste by potentially saving food from spoiling. Planning can also help you reduce the number of times you eat out, thereby reducing packaging from take-out meals.
Health Benefits Of Meal Planning
Meal planning means that you have time to plan healthier meals and that you can chose to eat out less often. This means you will likely consume less sodium, sugar and processed foods. When you eat out less, it is easier to maintain a healthy weight. According to Fix.com, “Eating home-cooked meals five or more days a week is even associated with a longer life.”
Preparing a homemade meal is considered to be one of the greenest options for everyday living, as it usually involves saving on transportation, waste and packaging costs. Although home cooking has many monetary and health advantages, many struggle when it comes to preparing a meal after a long day of work. I’ve found there are several easy ways to help overcome this challenge. Below are some quick tips to help get you started meal planning.
How To Make A Meal Plan
Set Some Time Aside To Do Meal Planning Once A Week
Meal planning is as simple as spending about 10 minutes, once a week, thinking about what food you will prepare during the week. You can spend more or less time planning meals, based on how detailed you want to be and the contents of your pantry.
How Do I Make A Weekly Meal Plan?
To get started, sit down with a calendar and write out meals for the next week. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can even plan out the entire month at one time. I usually stock my kitchen with basic options for breakfast and lunch, so I really only plan out my dinners in detail. I find it easiest to write out a few family favorite dishes and throw in only one new recipe a week.
Useful Meal Planning Tip: Consider saving your old meal plans so when you are in a time crunch or not feeling very creative, you can reuse them!
Make Your Shopping List
Once I have my weekly meal plan established, I use it to make my shopping list for the week. I check my pantry for any items I may already have and add only what I need to the the list.
Meal Prep Ahead Of Time
This part is totally optional. If you have very busy weeknights, you can do your meal prep ahead of time to make cooking after work easier. This means you can chop up all your veggies ahead of time. Or you can measure out the things you need to put in a dish. Some people even like to fully prepare their meals ahead of time and freeze them.
Whether you choose to prepare grab and go convenience foods (like salads) to store in your fridge or completely prepare meals for your freezer, doing the prep work in advance can save you a lot of time during those busy week nights.
Meal Planning Hacks
Now you know why meal planning is so important and you have some tips to get you started. Here are a few meal planning hacks you may like to try as well.
- There are meal planning services. You might like to try emeals.com if you like having a meal plan all ready for you.
- There are meal delivery kits. You might like to try EveryPlate if you like having the meal plan, recipe, and pre measure ingredients delivered to your door. Daily Harvest is good for delivering single serve meal kits for lunch or breakfast.
- There are meal planning apps.
- Cool meal prep dishes from Swell.
- Keto Meal Plan Recipes at Kiss My Keto.
- Free meal planning printables from Confessions Of Parenting.
- Meal planning on a budget of $42 a week from Saving Talents.
- Free Weekly Meal Planner Printable from Love On A Plate.
There are lots of benefits of planning your meals weekly. It can save you money by helping you not over shop and reduce impulse buys. Meal planning saves you time because you can reuse your meal plans. It can also save you the time and gas it takes to make trips to the store that aren’t needed when you plan ahead. Of course, meal planning helps you go green by reducing food waste that often results when there are no plans. Which of these benefits of meal planning is most important to you? Any meal planning tips to share or success stories? Tag us @familyfocusblog!