Welcome to Meal Planning 101!
Reasons to Meal Plan
- You will eat out less
- You will be eating less prepackaged meals
- You will always have the groceries that you need
- Which will allow for less money spent and less food wasted
- You will eat a variety of meals
- Avoid “what’s for dinner” every night
- Plan for busy days
- Less stress
- Fewer trips to the grocery store
For me, my personality tells me that I MUST have a plan so my meals are no exception. I like staying on a budget when it comes to grocery shopping so keeping my menu visible to me while I make my list is a big part of making that happen. I have also realized that if I have exactly what I need written down, I will be less likely to go after the non-healthy food options.
Now you may be thinking, “Who has the time to do that?!” Guess what? YOU DO! Meal planning doesn’t have to be hard. If you’re new to it, just think about how many days in the upcoming week that you have to cook for you and your family. Then, write down some of your favorite items to make. If you’re into trying new meals right away – start going through the cookbooks. Remember to give yourself enough time to prep the meals if needed so you aren’t stressing over that part.
Before you write down every ingredient needed, look at what you already have in freezer and pantry. If you’re making chicken – do you still have some leftover from the last shopping trip that you made? If so, that’s one less expense this week. The same goes for other ingredients that I know forget about all the time – SPICES! At one time I think I had about 3 containers of one spice in my cabinet because I didn’t bother to check before I left the house.
Another way to save is to look at fresh produce that you can in the season that you’re in. If the fruits and vegetables are in season, then they will save you expenses as you shop. If they are out of season – think about what you can substitute in its place.
Don’t be afraid to have leftovers! These are great if plans change last minute and not everyone will be home at dinner time or maybe they need something to go. Some items like spaghetti taste better as a leftover once the sauce has soaked into the noodles – think lunch is made for the next day.
Lastly, don’t think that you have to go all out for each meal every single week. There is nothing wrong with adding your favorites in, recycling previous menus, and having take out one night.
So tell me – do you already meal plan? Are you going to start? Are you scared to start?