Meal Planning saves TIME!
For me, the most tiring thing about cooking is THINKING about it. I’m tired at the end of the day. Do I have anything to cook? Did I need to thaw something (and did I forget to do it)? Orchestrating a meal at the last minute is exhausting. With a meal plan, you eliminate the task of thinking when you’re tired. Planning helps me buy specific groceries (only what I need) ahead of time, and each day, I just look at the plan and cook! There are ways to save even more time, and I’ll cover those in future posts! Right now: EASY planning!
Meal Planning Saves MONEY!
If I plan what we’ll be eating throughout the week, I can plan what to buy at the grocery store. When I have a plan, I reduce spending by buying only items on the list. This helps me avoid impulse purchases at the grocery store, and I SAVE MONEY.
When I plan ahead, I waste much less food. Avoiding waste is a big money saver! Think about a nice variety of dinners – and having just the right amount for each. If you stick to the plan, you’ll use your lettuce and tomatoes for that beautiful salad before the lettuce gets floppy and the tomatoes shrivel. Few things are sadder to me than throwing away food – it feels like tossing dollar bills in the garbage. For more details on avoiding food waste, check out this post.
Having planned leftovers for lunch is another way to save money. Extra servings for dinner provide my husband and me a wonderful lunch the next day. Eating lunch from home saves TONS of money. If you spend $7 each day for lunch, and you work 50 weeks every year, then you spend $1,750 each year. If you spend an extra $2/meal making extra at dinner, then you only spend $500 each year – a savings of $1,250! I can think of several things I’d rather spend over a thousand dollars on – and lunch isn’t on the list.
Planning Meals Can Encourage HEALTHY eating.
The only thing more expensive than eating out constantly is eating healthy foods while eating out. When I fail to plan, I wait until the last minute, and then I order the french fries “just to get by” until I can eat healthy food later. Do you ever do that? I’m just not as self-disciplined as I need to be – especially when it comes to food.
The only way I can really succeed at healthy eating is to PLAN! Face it: most of us don’t have a personal shopper, personal chef, and personal trainer at home to keep us on track. WE MUST PLAN (and implement) for ourselves. This can be really tough.
BUT, I have a cheat sheet for you to make it a little easier – just keep reading.
The secret to success: only plan one meal each day.
Beginners sometimes try to plan 21 meals per week and end up throwing in the towel. Its overwhelming. I’m just not that structured, so I only plan the big meal of each day. Does that sound easier?
What about breakfast and lunch?
Simple breakfast foods are kept on-hand. I always have eggs, bacon, oatmeal, cold cereals, and breakfast bars on hand. Those items are on the grocery list every time, and we all eat at different times. I ask everyone to add their desired items to the list, and they’re always on hand. No planning, just listing items.
Lunch is either sandwiches with soup or leftovers. Again, I keep lunch meats, cheese slices, soups, chips, and other favorite items on hand. I don’t plan for lunches, but I keep certain things on hand. That’s the key: I keep it simple and plan one meal per day. This makes meal planning easy and SUCCESSFUL right off the bat.
“Theme Nights” keep meal planning simple.
Meal planning can become drudgery QUICKLY – especially for a creative person like me. So, to keep it interesting, I pick themes for each night of the week. There’s Meatless Monday (or soup and bread night), Taco Tuesday (or quesadillas or fajitas), Winged Wednesday (something with chicken or turkey), Thrilling Thursdays (centered around someone’s favorite food), Pizza Friday (frozen, take-out, or make-your-own), Southern Food Saturday (something Mama used to make), and Sunday Roast (roast beef, chicken, or pork). Below is an actual meal plan for a week. Theme nights could get repetitive, but there are some tricks to maintaining variety! Here’s an example: Taco Tuesday could involve beef or chicken or fish or pork on hard taco shells, corn tortillas, or flour tortillas. I could even grill those and create quesadillas. If I want to be really fancy, I can grill the meat with peppers and onions, and serve everything fajita-style! See how to add variety? Here’s an actual meal plan for a week in January a couple of years ago (non-keto friendly).
Here’s a free printable for you to use! All the ones I Googled are very complicated, but this one is EASY to use! Print and enjoy. (And send a link to your friends!)
Have questions? Just ask! Tell me what you think! Be sure to comment on this post.
Here is another great resource for meal planning! (I’m advertising this product, and if you click over and purchase, I will be compensated.)