I don’t know about you, but there is nothing worse than needing to start dinner and either not having a clue what to make or opening the refrigerator door and not having half of the ingredients for what you want to make. That is why meal planning is so important to me.
It basically comes down to 4 reasons why meal planning it a must in my home:
In my case, I am a single parent on a single income, so the last thing I want to do is waste money on food that is going to sit in the cupboard or refrigerator uneaten. Having a list of only the items that I need for the upcoming meals means there is less temptation to buy those chocolate cookies that I don’t need or those extra items that I really don’t need just because they are on sale. Using an app like Flipp is also great so that you can price match the items that are on your list instead of driving around store to store to get the best deals.
There is nothing worse than cleaning out my refrigerator each week and tossing out dollar after dollar of food that went to waste because it didn’t get used. I have to admit, I was really slack about meal planning the past few weeks. My refrigerator always had food in it, but never exactly what I needed when it came down to it at meal time. This week with a meal plan ready to go, I started to clean out what was now inedible to make room for the new groceries that I needed to buy. I was completely annoyed with myself at the amount of waste and the dollars that I could have used elsewhere that was going into the compost bin.
I don’t know about you, but without a meal plan in place, it is WAY to easy jump in the car and head out for a meal. With meal planning, you can ensure you have vegetables or salad as a side dish for your meal and that the meal itself is made with healthier ingredients. Don’t get me wrong, we love a good mac & cheese dinner or hot dogs on occasion but I need to make sure there is a healthy side to go along with it. I am firm believer of everything in moderation but if you don’t have things readily available, it is way to easy to go to the quick and easy meals that aren’t always the healthiest.
When you’ve gotten home from work and the kids are now home from school and you have an evening full of homework, extra-curricular activities, getting ready for the next day and you then add trying to get a nutritious meal on the table that the whole family will eat, the stress levels can go thru the roof. If you at least have a game plan in place for dinner and all the items you need to pull it all together, hopefully you can reduce the stress that comes along with dinner time. Having a list means that crockpot stew that needs to cook all day can easily be on the menu if you have the ingredients ahead of time and can get it going the morning you want to have it.
So each week, I sit down and make a list of the meals we will eat and make my grocery list accordingly. Depending on our schedule for the upcoming week, I either assign a specific meal to each day of the week or plan on a certain number of meals and pick one of said meals each day. The latter, only works well if we don’t have a lot going on and the meals don’t have a huge prep time.
If meal planning isn’t something you have done in the past, I highly suggest you give it a try. It could make a world of difference.