What Is Meal Planning?
First, what exactly is meal planning?
There is nothing confusing in the concept, it is simply planning your meals.Here is how it works.
Once a week, sit down and write down all of the meals that you will serve over the course of the next 7 days. Make sure that your list is thorough and includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and all of your snacks. When you have this list, you can then write out all of the ingredients that you need to make your meals.
After you have your list, your next step is to go through your fridge and pantry and cross off the things that are already in stock. Now, you have your shopping list and can go to the store and purchase just the items that you need.
What Are The Benefits?
There are a number of benefits to meal planning, making it one of the best things you can take on. Take a look at a few.
The first benefit to meal planning, and the reason that most do it, is the money savings. As a country, we waste a great deal of our food, as much as thirty percent. For the average family of four, that can be hundreds of dollars in wasted food in a single month.
Meal planning can allow you to avoid this wastage so that you can put more money in your pocket or finally balance that budget.
Another benefit, and one that is often overlooked, is the time savings. Wouldn’t it be nice to get all of your shopping done at once and avoid those last minute trips to the store? With a thorough and complete list of groceries, you can do just that.
Meal planning also serves as a dining schedule, further saving you time. No more trying to think of what you can make to eat at home. You will have a detailed list ready and all of your ingredients on hand. This can save you hours a week in meal prep time. It also helps you avoid those “give up” moments where you just don’t want to deal with meal prep tme and go buy fast food.
For the environmentally conscious, you have the benefit of not wasting food. Stop throwing away turned milk or spoiled vegetables. Buy just what you need so that you use nearly everything you buy and send less to the dump.
Meal Planning Tips
If you have decided to start meal planning, great. Let’s look at some tips that can help you make the most of it.
If you want to make the most of your savings, shop the sales circulars before making your meal plan. By doing so, you can incorporate the items that are on sale into your menu. Since grocers regularly deeply discount a few products a week, this can significantly add to your savings.
When those meals are over, be sure to take full advantage of leftovers. Save them and plan on having a leftover dinner once a week. Everyone can enjoy the meal that they liked the best over the course of the week and you get a virtually free meal.
Lastly, be flexible. If you are finding it hard to stick with a rigid schedule, mix up your meals. Instead of having a set meal for each day, pick and choose which meal to make on a daily basis. Just make sure that those meals were planned for the week, but feel free to mix them up as you wish.