Meal planning has not only changed the way my family eats, but also the amount of money we have in our pockets at the end of the month. It’s hard to believe there was a point and time in our lives when I DIDN’T meal plan! The benefits of meal planning significantly outweigh the inconvenience. Here are the top 5 reasons I make it a priority.
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Benefits of Meal Planning Tip #1: Save a LOT of Money
Like most families, the amount of money we spend on food each month is really insane. I’m always looking for new ways to cut back on the cost of our grocery store trips. Before I started meal planning, I felt like I would fill my cart with a ton of different items, but never had any plan to use them. This “wing it” attitude may have been nice in theory, but it wasn’t very forgiving on the wallet. We ended up spending SO MUCH money at the grocery store! Every time I would hit the check out line, I would get a pit in my stomach just waiting to see the total. Since I started meal planning, I have saved a ton of money and I have stayed within our grocery budget (that never used to happen). Sometimes I even have wiggle room at the end to grab us a few special treats!
Quick Tip: Try to choose a few recipes that use the same ingredients (i.e. two or three recipes with boneless chicken breasts or ground turkey). This will allow you to purchase items in bulk and will cut down on your spending. You can also purchase in bulk and freeze for use later in the month.
Benefits of Meal Planning Tip #2: Less Food Waste
How blessed are we to live in a country where it’s possible to have food waste. The amount of food I was throwing out because we didn’t use it was insane. Sadly, meal planning has not completely cut out our food waste, however, it has significantly reduced it! I would rather be left with an empty fridge than a garbage bag full of rotten vegetables!
Benefits of Meal Planning Tip #3: Healthier Lifestyle
Overall, meal planning has allowed us to live a healthier lifestyle. Prior to meal planning, we would still choose healthy options, however, it was often a hodgepodge of food that got really boring after a while. Meal planning has allowed us to try an assortment of flavors and cooking styles. We try new dishes every week and it has not only diversified our palates but also allowed us to find some awesome new go-to’s for when we are in a pinch!
Recently, I have started planning for breakfast and lunch as well. This has been a real lifesaver because it means I’m less likely to grab quick “snacky” foods. Instead, I have healthy, planned out meal options that require little thought, little prep and are wholesome and delicious!
Benefits of Meal Planning Tip #4: Less Tempted to Order Take-Out
I don’t know if this applies to everyone, however, I personally like to stick to a plan. Therefore, if I have determined that Wednesday night is taco night, then I’m going to make tacos. Otherwise, my plan gets pushed around and my whole schedule is thrown off. That might sound crazy, but I like order and predictability.
I have to admit, lately (especially this summer), I have gotten into the habit of ditching the meal plan and heading out to dinner instead. I don’t know if it’s been the heat or my clingy little girl, but cooking hasn’t been as appealing. I’ve made it a goal over the past week or two to get back to my old ways of “sticking to a plan” and it seems to be working fairly well. Less takeout=more money in our pockets and lower numbers on the scale!
Benefits of Meal Planning Tip #5: Fast Trips to the Grocery Store
I’m all about a quick in and out at the grocery store. My pre-baby self-loved to wander aimlessly through the aisles looking at all of the different foods. This post-baby mama doesn’t find it as appealing. Now, my goal is to get through the store as quickly as humanly possible. Meal planning has made that SO MUCH EASIER for me! Instead of guessing what I need in each aisle, I have a complete map of the store before I arrive. When I make my grocery list, I separate the items into fresh, frozen, deli/dairy, and non-perishable. I no longer have to walk down every single aisle to see what I need. I can simply head straight for each item and be on my merry way.
How Do I Make the Time To Meal Plan?
The only argument I ever hear AGAINST meal planning is a lack of time. I can totally relate to that. As moms, we have so much going on as it is. The last thing we want to do is add yet another task to our to-do list. The best piece of advice I can give is that you need to make meal planning an essential part of your weekly routine. Sort of like laundry, or dishes, or cleaning the bathroom, it HAS to be done. When you look at it as a must-do task rather than an optional task, you are more apt to stick to it! Here are some motivating statements to remember:
You are going to save SO MUCH MONEY
Your family is going to be eating healthy, wholesome meals
Trips to the grocery store are going to be quicker and more efficient
Your family is going to be really impressed with your culinary choices! (haha)
Set aside time in your schedule to make sure you are able to meal plan once a week. I choose Sunday’s since I do my grocery shopping on Monday (except when it’s a long weekend). It’s an easy task to complete while you are sitting in front of the TV on Sunday evening. If you aren’t a fan of the TV, then maybe you could do it while drinking your coffee first thing in the morning. No matter what, make it a PRIORITY. Don’t treat it like something that can be pushed aside. The more you do it the more it will become a normal task for you.
What Resources Do I Use to Make Meal Planning Easier?
As a motivating factor, get yourself some cute stationary to do your meal planning on. Obviously, this isn’t essential. You can simply use an old piece of paper or a notecard. However, I purchased adorable tablets from Emily Ley and it makes meal planning so much more visually appealing. Aren’t they beautiful?
I also have a Pinterest board dedicated to Recipes and homemade baby food. I often use the ideas from these boards to find new meal options. In addition, I have my favorite websites bookmarked (Skinnytaste, Baby FoodE, Damn Delicious, Chelsea’s Messy Apron, Pinch of Yum and Miss Allie’s Kitchen) so that I can find them quickly and easily!
What did you think?
Overall, meal planning has made a big, positive influence on the way our family eats, shops, and spends money. Although it takes time, it’s worth all of those precious minutes and I wouldn’t go back to my pre-meal planning days for anything.
Do you meal plan? What are your tips and tricks to make it easier?
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If you liked this post about meal planning, you might also enjoy this post about how I simplified my morning routine!