The Case for Meal Planning
You come home from work exhausted. Rummage through the fridge and try to find the easiest, quickest, and (...*fingers crossed*...) healthiest meal to make to keep the family happy and satisfied. But then you realize you don't have enough items to make a whole meal. *sigh* So, you end up running to the grocery store to pick up "just a few things" and end up spending a $100 because impulse shopping on an empty stomach IS. A. THING.
Does this scenario happen more often than you would like to admit, even to yourself? Trust me, I have been there. I used to live in an area where the Whole Foods was right in the middle of where I used to work and live. This meant I would be at Whole Foods between 2 to 3 times a week spending more than my budget actually allowed on groceries. I argued to myself that it was okay because they were “healthy” items. But, the grocery bills just kept increasing month after month. Not to mention the amount of food waste I would produce because the food I actually had at home would go bad before I could even get to it.
I finally got wise to what was happening, and started to change my ways. I now have a hawkeye over how much money I am spending on food during each month, and how much food waste I actually do nowadays, but it’s not easy. I am certainly not perfect. I am still learning. But, the point is - I am taking the steps I need to take today for incremental future growth. One major argument for meal planning is to absolutely avoid this scenario playing out week by week. Here are my top three benefits to meal planning:
1. Reduce Decision Fatigue
Life is already hard. We’re dealing with the need to make multiple decisions throughout any given day. Needing to respond to and answer multiple questions throughout the day. With meal planning you make a schedule, and during that specified time is when you decide what meals you're going to make for the next week, month, or specific time frame. Meal planning is one way to reduce decision fatigue throughout the week so that by the time you come home from work you're not faced with yet another decision on what to do about dinner.
2. Reduce Food Waste
I'm a newbie here with reducing my impact on the planet. But I want to learn more, so do me a favor and comment on this post to let me know your favorite way to reduce waste! When it comes to meal planning you ensure that the groceries you purchased all have a specific use or plan. We'll talk more about that in a future blog post. Additionally, if there's a prepped meal that's not getting eaten for whatever reason it's so easy to place it in the freezer and save it for another time. I love having the rule of thumb to make one meal and freeze one meal. Make one pot of whatever meal, but double the recipe to freeze the other half for a later time. This has efficiency written all over it, and I'm on board!
3. Reduce Spending
Obviously this is my favorite one. But, here's the thing. Not only does meal planning help reduce decision fatigue and food waste, but also helps reduce the number of times you're eating out and spending unbudgeted dollars. You plan your meals in advance, and then decide which meals you'll eat on that specific day, depending on how you're feeling. At that point it's really just grab and go!
The key here is to reduce. We will not always be perfect, but we can strive for taking small steps today that turn into great change over time.
When it comes to meal planning there are different methods you can use. There's lots of apps out there that aggregate all of your recipes into one place. One of the methods that I used to use would be looking up recipes during the day in my down time at work, and then printing them out when it catches my interest. I keep a collection of printed out recipes because I find that it's easier to manage a piece of paper when going through the directions of the meal prep of the recipe. I believe the key here is to try to use the same ingredients for a couple of different recipes to keep the costs low.
Currently I've been using an actual meal plan service that does all of these things for me! I would definitely recommend that if you're looking for something that is all inclusive as far as the grocery list, the recipes and how-to’s I would highly highly recommend that you look into Work Week Lunch. In fact if you click on this link it will take you to a 3 recipe meal plan program. You can essentially test drive this program for FREE and see if you like it. This is in no way sponsored. I just really believe in the product, and think that something like this could be beneficial for you and your loved ones as well.
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