Meal planning is beneficial to everyone, not just busy working moms or dads. It helps you get organized for the week and allows you to feel stress-free about what you are going to feed yourself and your family.
Now, when I’m asked the dreaded, “What’s for dinner,” I not only have an answer, but I also have all the ingredients needed to make a healthy and delicious meal.
By planning out your meals, you’ll naturally make healthy changes to your diet and lifestyle. A few benefits to expect:
- Save money and waste less.
By resisting the impulse buys and not getting unnecessary ingredients that you don’t even know what to do with, you save money and produce less food waste.
- Eat out less.
When we feel rushed or don’t know what to do for dinner, the easy answer is, “Let’s get take-out!” But we don’t want to rely on fast food for our meals. It’s not the healthiest choice, and can also get expensive really quickly.
- Eat less processed and prepackaged foods.
If you are able to resist fast food take-out, in a pinch you still might find yourself resorting to the quick option of prepackaged, processed foods that you keep on hand. By having the ingredients you need for a healthy meal, it is much easier to resist these foods. Plus, when you meal plan, these foods aren’t included, so you won’t even be tempted by them!
- Decrease Stress
Enough said. Anything that can make life easier and less stressful is worth doing!
- Fewer trips to the store
Even if you love to grocery shop, let’s face it — if you aren’t prepared for your meals throughout the week, you find yourself helplessly wandering the store aisles throughout the week. Meal planning allows you to go to the store just once a week.
Now that you know the benefits, here are some Eat Smart. Be Well. tips to get you started with your meal planning:
- Take time to gather recipes.
Once a week, look through cookbooks, blogs or websites, or think of old favorite recipes that you want to make for the week. It is best to plan for five days’ worth of meals. This allows for a little wiggle room if you decide to go out to eat or have leftovers.
- Make a shopping list.
Make a list of the ingredients you need from the store. Be sure to add on any other essentials like breakfast, lunch or snack foods that you usually keep on hand.
- Go shopping.
Easy enough, right? Your only task, besides getting what’s on the list, is avoiding those impulse buys! The one exception would be when there is a sale on items you regularly use, such as meats, detergent or any other foods items you like to keep in the house.
- Post meal plan on the fridge.
Keep the meal plan in sight so you know what to plan for each day. The night before or the morning of, be sure to move any frozen proteins or other items you’ll need from the freezer to fridge so they’ll be ready by the time you get home.
Give meal planning a try, and I promise you won’t regret it!