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Why Meal Planning is Important

How many times have you looked at the clock, only to realize you have no idea what’s for dinner…again?! I’m gonna guess, it’s happened to you more than once. I know it’s happened to me! More times than I’d like to admit.  

Eating meals at home is so beneficial. I could list a million reasons, but let’s just start with these:

  • Sitting down to a meal at home will give you control over what you eat.
  • It will save you money and time.
  • It will encourage eating together as a family, which, especially with teenagers, can be so detrimental to a healthy family relationship.  
  • This is just to name a few of the many reasons meal planning is so important.

There are many benefits to meal planning and that is just to name a few!

If you’ve struggled with figuring out what to serve for dinner, or how to bring your family closer around the dinner table, then you could really benefit from meal planning. 

But, What is Meal Planning?

Meal planning is as simple as it sounds, you’re just planning your meals in advance, instead of right before it’s time to eat. (Been there, done that!)

When you meal plan you take one day a week (Saturdays are my favorite) and plan what you are going to eat for the rest of the week. You’ll plan breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks (if you want to.) That way you’ll only have to run to the store once.

This way you don’t have any last minute panic attacks and you have better control over what your schedule will be like for the rest of the week.

Why is Meal Planning So Important, Anyway?

Menu planning is often overlooked as unimportant, not necessary, or too much work. But I’d like to suggest otherwise. Let’s look at several of the many reasons meal planning is so important.

1. Meal Planning Saves Time

It might not sound like taking  an hour or two every Saturday to plan, shop and prepare meals will save you time, and I agree. I felt the same way, at first.

But imagine not having to randomly run to the store every other day! Imagine not taking 20 minutes each afternoon to scramble and figure out what sounds good for dinner.

Think about  going to the fridge and having most of your dinner already prepped for you – with all the ingredients on hand! It’s incredible, actually! At the end of the day meal planning can save you a LOT of time (and headaches).

2. Meal Planning Saves Money 

When you plan out your meals, you know exactly what you need so you don’t overspend on getting ingredients you might use, or already have in your pantry.

Also, statistics show that the more times you go into a store, the more overspending you will do. Let’s be honest – how many times do you see something on the shelf and think, “I don’t know if I have that at home.” or “I’ll just grab that. Maybe we’ll have it for dinner tomorrow.” How about, “I’ll just grab that for a snack, just this once…” (Guilty, guilty, guilty)

But when you know exactly what you need for the whole week you won’t mindlessly overspend on things you might need later. Menu planning will also give you the opportunity to look at the sales ahead of time and plan around store specials! It also allows you to use up ingredients you already have in your fridge that you might otherwise forget about, which saves on money and waste.

3. Meal Planning Will Help You Be Much More Organized 

When you meal plan you know ahead of time which night you need easy meals, and which nights you will have extra time to make a nicer meal. It allows you to plan accordingly so you don’t suddenly realize there’s no time to prepare for dinner.

It also allows you to organize your fridge with ingredients you know you’ll use. I like to keep all snacks in the bottom, left-hand drawer, in our fridge, and all pre-made lunches in another. I then organize all the other ingredients in the fridge by meal. This makes it easier to grab what I need without digging through everything in my fridge.

4. Meal Planning Will Allow You to Prepare Ahead of Time

After shopping for all your food on whatever day you choose, prepare as much food as you can that day as soon as you get home from the store.

Cut up any and all fruits and vegetables, that won’t dry out or turn brown. Cook all meats and mix all sauces and then store them in airtight containers. Make salads and sandwiches for lunches beforehand, so it’s an easy grab-and-go on the way out the door.

The list of different ways to prepare goes on and on. Get creative and see how much you can get done in the time you’ve allotted yourself. Encourage others in your family to help too! Trust me, it sounds like a lot of work but it will only save you time in the long run!

5. Planning Your Meals Will Save on Trips to the Grocery Store

If you’re like me, running to the store was almost a daily occurrence before I started meal planning. Sometimes I’d run to the store in the morning and then have my husband run by the store again on his way home from the office, because I had forgotten something again!! I was not a smart shopper at all!

But when you know exactly what you need for the whole week, and you have a detailed list, you can do all your shopping in one day and be done with it!

6. Everyone in the House Can Know What to Expect When There’s a Menu

When everything is prepared beforehand everyone can know where their lunches and snacks are and can grab them on their way out the door. Planning meals ahead of time also lets people know if they need to be home for dinner at a certain time or if it’s just gonna be an informal dinner.

It’s amazing to me how much happier even my youngest kids are when things are planned out. Not only can everyone know what to expect during the week but they can help! Have everyone pick a dinner they want to eat sometime during the week, when you’re meal planning, so everyone gets at least one meal they love.

This way will everyone look forward to dinner time!

7. People in Your House Won’t go Hungry

Having all your planning and shopping done for the week means you won’t run out of snacks or lunches. If you have snacks and lunches already prepped and in a designated spot, ready to go, you wont get as many “Mom! I’m hungry and there’s nothing to eat!”

That is a total win in my book!

8. Meal Planning Gives You the Ability to Eat Healthier 

When you meal plan you have more control over what you put in your fridge and in your mouth and there’s less temptation to eat unhealthy food.

Meal planning helps you avoid those days when there’s nothing in the fridge and little time to prepare anything, so you just run and grab something fast and unhealthy (which also leads to an increase in your food budget – Let’s be honest! We’ve all done that!).

9. Meal Planning Will Help You Cut Back on Food Waste 

Meal planning also allows you to have better knowledge and control of what’s in your fridge so you don’t waste anything or let things go bad, because you forgot to use them.

At the beginning of each week, make sure to go through your fridge and pantry so you know what you can use for your meal plan the following week. (There is a great spot for this in The Meal Planning Binder, you can find it in my store!)

10. Menu Planning Will Help You Reduce Your Stress Level 

When you know what to expect, know what you’re already going to eat and know that all the ingredients are already in the fridge, prepped and waiting for you, dinners no longer become stressful but an enjoyable time you spend with your family.

Then you can look forward to eating dinner every night with your family, without overthinking or stressing out about it.

11. Having a Menu Plan Makes You Intentional 

When you meal plan you’re more likely to serve a nicer, cheaper and/or healthier meal, edifying the quality time you spend with your family. Every dinner you serve, whether it’s a nice sit-down meal together or sandwiches out the door, will have a rhyme and reason.

You will have made every decision on your menu intentionally, so you don’t have to feel guilty about those days sitting down with your family didn’t happen.   

12. Not Meal Planning is a Waste of Time and Money

Last but not least, not meal planning is just a waste of time and money. Wandering around the store, not knowing what to buy can not only hurt your budget and waste time, it can also hurt your diet and cause you to start dreading preparing nice dinners for your family.

When you meal plan it gives you more freedom and control over so many more aspects of your life.

You Can Get Creative with Your Meal Planning

There are multiple ways you can use your meal planning to get creative. Find meals that use similar ingredients but taste completely different. That way you can save by buying one head of lettuce and using it for tacos, salads and sandwiches and not let any of it go to waste!

You can also add themes to you weekly schedule, Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Finger Food Friday, Salad Sunday and whatever else you can think of! Also, use a day that you aren’t as busy as an excuse to try new recipes! 

You Can Easily Plan Leftovers as Part of Your Menu

If you have a small family you can use half of what you make as leftovers for lunches, dinner again later in the week, or freeze it for future use.

If you have a bigger family and want leftovers, it’s easy to simply just double the recipe. (Two meals and only one cook time? Win win!) 

When You Meal Plan, You Can Add a Ton of Variety to Your Menu (or None at All!)

When you know what your schedule for the week looks like and what days are going to be busier than others, this gives you the freedom to plan fun and creative menus for the week. Taco Tuesday is always a no brainer, but have a little extra time on Thursday? Try that new Indian dish you’ve been eyeing on Pinterest. 

Wanting to try that Keto diet everyones been talking about, but it seems to stressful to always have such planned out meals? Meal planning makes that doable! Meal planning makes a lot of things doable! 🙂

Just want an easy week of low stress meals? Meal planning can take those meals from low stress to NO stress as you have the flexibility to plan quick and easy meals that are also in budget as well as healthy, so not only is there no stress, there is no guilt. 

Once You Meal Plan a Few Weeks, You Can Rotate Your Menu to Reuse Over and Over Again!

After you’ve prepared a menu a couple of times, you will find that there are some meals and menu combinations that seem to work really well with your schedule or taste buds or whatever.

Keep these menus, and the shopping list filed away and cycle through them. This will make meal planning even easier as you can completely skip the planning phase! (This just keeps getting better and better! Right?!)

Just remember to still skim through the store ads each time you menu plan to see if anything on your list is on sale. 

Shopping Without a List is Unproductive and Can Be a Detriment to Your Budget

Even if you have every meal planned out in your head and you think you know the recipes inside and out, still write out a shopping list! Buying seven days worth of food takes intentionality.

You don’t wanna find yourself forgetting something or buying something you really didn’t need, that is just going to end up going bad in the back of your fridge. So don’t go to the store without a plan!

Are you Still Unsure About Meal Planning?

Does it still sound too complicated or too hard? Check out my Meal Planning Binder. It includes places for your weekly menu, budget needs, current grocery store sales, dietary needs, a list of ingredients you already have, and so much more!

Go check it out here! You definitely don’t wanna miss it!

Other Related Meal Planning Articles:

Wanna get started meal planning right away? Download your FREE copy of The Meal Planning Binder Mini Pack and you’ll be well on your way to creating weekly meal lists!

Why do you meal plan? Leave me a comment below, I would love to hear from you! 

Wondering if you really need a meal plan? You do! Trust me! Meal planning is so important! Come find out why!

 

{13 Reasons} Why Meal Planning is So Important

 

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