Meal planning is the planning of meals in advance and purchasing ingredients needed. If you are a busy parent or even a parent who struggles, this may be for you. Kiefer and I started meal planning last week and it has been going splendidly.
We no longer go through the phase of realizing it is 7:30 at night and asking what is for dinner. It saves so much time figuring out dinner plans, and what would be good for our son.
What we did is we figured out when our paydays were and worked our schedule around that. It has allowed us to master the “What’s for dinner?” We also include the days where we were eating out. We started on Tuesday, and it’s been a blessing in disguise.
There are benefits to choosing to meal plan and I will discuss them all with you. I find that when meal planning, you are able to budget financially. Budgeting allows you to choose where your money goes, and how to spend any extras.
Benefits include saving time, being cost-efficient, avoiding unhealthy foods, portion control, reducing the amount of food wasted, etc.
I will be talking more about these benefits in detail below.
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1. Saving Time
When planning your meals, saving time at the grocery store can be a lifesaver. You don’t have to spend ages roaming the store trying to figure out what you are going to get.
We (as parents) spend ages figuring out what to eat, what to buy, cooking, then cleaning up after ourselves. It takes time out of what is really important, spending time with family. Since Kiefer and I started, we have sliced our cooking time and increased family time.
It still is an effort sometimes to pull out the protein from the freezer, but I figured out a way. I utilized a concept that I learned from the book I read by Mel Robbins, and it works so efficiently. The book is called The 5 Second Rule. She goes on to explain how this rule has changed her life drastically and allows her to get more done.
Essentially, all you do is; when your alarm goes off, count to 5 and just get out of bed. You can use this rule for anything you have trouble deciding what to do. That’s all it is to it.
2. Portion Control
If your plan is to lose weight, meal planning can help. Prepping your meals in advance allows you to control how much of each food group you give yourself.
When you portion control, you have the power to control how much you eat. I am not an expert in weight loss, as I, myself, have trouble losing weight. I just can’t give up the sweets!
Portion control is also how you limit what you are eating and how often. However, you have to be careful as improper usage can cause harm. You need to be able to talk to your nutritionist about what is the correct portions for your body type.
Now, since we started, our goal right now isn’t weight loss but instead routine. We never really had a routine before so it is all new to us.
3. Reduces Food Waste
In the beginning, we didn’t know what to cook, we were wasting so much food. Not only because our son is a picky eater, but also picking out random things. We, essentially, picked out random food only because we didn’t know what we would be making that night.
We were very successful in finding 2 recipes that our son liked, and actually ate! I was so happy, that my husband and I gave a high five to each other. It meant that we were able to reduce the food waste that we normally accumulated.
4. Reducing Last Minute Cooking Stress
Have you ever come home, only to find out that nothing was prepared? Have you ever had those feelings of “I don’t know what to make?” Planning out the meals that you will be eating reduces the stress of cooking last minute.
I used to suffer through having Kiefer come home, no dinner made, and asking “What’s for dinner?” He is the breadwinner of the family, so he felt like he didn’t have to cook. I chose to stay home, to take care of the house, and our son. So essentially it was my duty to have our food prepped, and ready.
Now, you might say that it’s sexist. It may be, but it shouldn’t be sexist if the woman chose to stay home. I am not going to start political or even other problems on this site.
5. Save Money
Meal planning does save money. When you preplan the foods, you only get what is needed, and you can also get deals. In our last grocery shop, we only bought the items needed and it only cost $200. Now it cost that much because some things are a little expensive.
We only went to one place to get our groceries because we have to think about travel. I didn’t have a car, so I have to pick what is carryable. There is the option of Uber or Lyft, but sometimes we only choose them when we get discounts. Think smarter, not harder.
Only picking up what is needed, reduces the need for impulse spending. As well as reduces what is thrown in the bin at the end of the week. It also helps you become more aware of what is being spent.
6. Avoid Unhealthy Options
When we are driving home from work, we think about easy meals. Which means we go through the drive-thru, to pick up fast food. It isn’t the healthiest option, however, more restaurants are choosing healthier options.
Fast food options are usually higher in calories and can also sabotage your weight loss goals. Knowing you have a meal ready for you at home saves time and money being spent. When you are tired and hungry, it can lead to poor choices, so it’s handy when your meals are available.
7. Enjoy More Variety
When you become stuck in the same thing over and over again, it can feel like a cage. We have been stuck in the cage for a while ourselves. Always going through macaroni and cheese, grilled sandwiches and hamburger helper.
Meal planning essentially allows you to have more variety in your diet. It brings in more vegetables and fruits, allows you to try new foods, and makes for a happy person.
When you have the right foods in your meals, it can help lower the risks of chronic health problems. When following the right plan for you, as well as a healthy option, will also ensure that you are eating the right portion of food.
These are the benefits of meal planning. It is up to you to decide if it is right for your family or not.
In my opinion, meal planning is the best thing that has happened in our family. We finally don’t have to worry about wondering what’s for dinner, asking each other “what are you making” or even just going without food.
Let me know in the comments below your thoughts.