5 Reasons To Give Meal Planning a Try (or a Second Chance)
I used to hate meal planning. It sounded great the first time I heard about it. It should have been just what I needed to eat better and eat at home more. But instead I was stressed out spending at least an hour just writing the plan (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks) and then by the end of the month I had a bunch of produce that had gone bad and so much leftover food because the “plan” failed. I was wasting so much food and even more money. I called it quits and never looked back for about five years.
Finally, about two years ago, I was introduced to a SIMPLE meal planning method by a friend. I started going by that plan and now have evolved it into my own version that works really well for my family and our lifestyle. I have finally come to realize that meal planning can actually be a good thing. It has helped us save money, stop wasting food, and just stress less overall when it comes to meal time.
Here are 5 reasons why you need to give meal planning a try (or a second chance, like I did):
1. It will reduce your grocery bill.
Meal planning has helped us significantly reduce the amount of money we spend on groceries each month. Creating a plan allows me to shop for only the ingredients we need and only as many meals as we plan to cook. Previously I would just buy a bunch of food I thought we would need and that meant we either had a lot of unused items leftover or we had to make constant trips to the grocery because we “needed something else.” Having a meal plan helps me shop with organization and even shop grocery sales! I’m not a huge fan of couponing just because I don’t have the time, but if I see something is on sale in the grocery ad, I know I can create a plan around that. If tortillas are on sale, you know we’re having tacos at least one night (probably more because…hello, tacos).
If you have trouble coming up with ideas for what to cook or how to keep it inexpensive, I highly recommend a membership to $5 Dollar Meal Plan .
2. It will help curb the temptation to eat out.
Before we were meal planning, we were eating out a lot. And not even because we like to eat out (although, we do!) but because we didn’t prepare for dinner ahead of time. So many times we would be halfway through the workday and realize neither of us set out any meat to thaw that morning. Or we wouldn’t necessarily know what we had in the pantry to even know what our options were, so we would clock out of work and just take the easy route…going out. But eating out gets expensive, especially when you’re trying to pay off debt, so we had to find a way to limit that expense. Meal planning did the trick. Having a plan allowed us to already know what we needed to do to prepare for dinner ahead of time and also to know what our options are. So often we end up switching around meals during the week, but it’s so much better to swap what’s for dinner two nights at home than to opt for take out both of those nights. This has benefited our budget so much, I can’t recommend it enough.
3. It helps you use what you already have in the pantry.
Not only does meal planning help you to not waste the food already purchased and sitting in your pantry, but it helps you to save money by shopping your pantry rather than the grocery aisles. I always use my pantry as the starting point for creating a meal plan and then add on ingredients and other meals from there. It has allowed us to use what’s in the pantry and that means not having to spend a full day cleaning out the pantry so we can throw away things that expired a year ago. It’s budget friendly and waste friendly. And so much less stressful.
4. It majorly helps with communication amongst the family.
It wouldn’t surprise me if one of the leading causes for marriage fights was the “what’s for dinner” question. This used to send me into a state of panic because it was like my husband was personally attacking the fact that I hadn’t planned what was for dinner and we had no time for meat to thaw. That was definitely never his intent, but it was a source of stress for me. Creating a meal plan and keeping that plan on the fridge have tremendously helped with the meal time communication. With the plan visibly on the fridge, it’s easy for anyone to see what’s for dinner without me being asked. AND that also means that either one of us can easily set out the meat to thaw in the morning because dinner has been predetermined and we can see it.
5. It dramatically reduces stress.
As if all the reasons above weren’t explanation enough, meal planning will drastically reduce your stress level when it comes to all things grocery and meal time. Having a plan has made it so much easier to grocery shop, save money on those groceries, keep our cabinets from overflowing, keep us from deciding to eat out at the last minute, and preventing us from bickering over something as simple as a meal. It takes me 10 minutes or less to meal plan each week and it makes it so much easier for me (or my husband) to stay on top of meal time throughout the week. This reduces my stress level, and his too! I think we can all agree, less stress is best.
I encourage you to give meal planning a try, or a second chance and approach it from my simple strategy. It will be beneficial for you and your family in so many ways. And just like budgeting, it’s going to take some time to work out the kinks in the beginning, but each time you do it, it will become easier and your own way of doing it will evolve.
I’ve created a FREE downloadable guide called The Busy Mama’s Guide to Simple Meal Planning which is the exact process that I’ve been using for over two years now. This strategy is all about saving time, sticking to the budget, and not wasting food. If you’ve been needing a meal planning strategy that is simple and efficient, you’re going to love this.