Here’s a scenario you may face if you don’t meal plan: you get home from work and there aren’t enough leftovers in the fridge for you and your family. You look at the groceries in your kitchen and pantry and try to concoct something for dinner.
The first couple of recipes you think of, you are missing some vital ingredients. You debate on going out to eat, but don’t want to spend the money. You consider running to the store to pick up some missing items, but you don’t want to take the time. In the meantime, it’s getting closer to supper-time. Has this ever happened to you?
It used to happen to me.. all. the. time. This was before I entered the wonderful world of meal-planning.
Oh boy. You hear that word meal ‘planning’ and it sounds like a lot time and work. I’m not gonna lie, it does take some time and effort.
I have to say, though, that it is by all means worth every second of time and effort I put into it. And this comes from me, who doesn’t like taking too much time at once to do things, because I’m a busy mom. However, if I did not meal plan, I would be a much BUSIER mom.
During my pregnancy I decided it was time to start, because this would be my third kid to take care of (I have step-kids too.) That’s 3 kids to feed on certain days, and I realized that with a baby coming soon, I didn’t have time to keep replaying the beginning scenario. So meal planning was the way to go.
So now I just want to share some of the reasons meal planning will benefit you.
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Remember all those problems at the beginning of this post? I avoid all of them now. Since I meal plan, when I go grocery shopping every 2 weeks, I purchase all the ingredients I’ll need for our meals for those 2 weeks.
Yes, I do have to take some time to pick out the meals in advance and write my shopping list. But every time I cook, I can quickly reference my recipes that I’m going to make and not have to wonder if I have all the needed ingredients.
I don’t usually have to make last-minute stops at the store, because I’ve already done all my shopping for the time being.
By meal planning, you will save wasted time trying to figure out what to make (because you’ll already know,) and you’ll save time on wasted trips to the store (because you’ll have everything you need already.)
In the past, during my dark pre-meal plan days, (alright, I’ll stop being so dramatic,) I would often spend money on groceries that I didn’t use, or didn’t need right away, because I didn’t know exactly what I was going to make.
Things would also go bad before we got a chance to use them, because I had no decisive plan for when I would use them. And really, who likes working hard to buy food that you’re just going to throw out?
Meal planning means you only spend money on food items you need for the meals you planned out, plus maybe some other items to stock up on that fit into your budget and shopping list.
All this amounts to a lot less stress on me- ‘mom’- and I have peace of mind knowing that I have already figured out what’s for dinner every day until I shop again. There is no last minute frantic scrambling.
While making up new recipes with what you have in the pantry can be fun, this is something that’s better done out of choice and willful spontaneity- not necessity- when you should have already started cooking and are pressed for time.
I’m sure you have enough stress in other aspects of your life. Dinner doesn’t have to be one of them.
It can be extremely frustrating for you and the rest of your family when you are eating the same things over and over… and over.. and over.. The same thing. Every week. Why? Because you are limited with ingredients you have.
And you waste time flipping through your cookbooks or online recipes trying to find something else to make. ‘That looks fantastic!’ you think. But wait… you don’t have the main ingredient. Why? Because you didn’t buy it. Why? Because you didn’t plan on making that recipe.
Let’s stop and reverse that situation.. You look through the cookbook first, BEFORE you go shopping.
If you do this, you will be able to have all the ingredients that you need to make those awesome new recipes that you and your family have been depriving yourselves of. It really works just that simply.
A Side Note on Freezer Meals
Accompanied by meal-planning is also the idea of freezer meals, which is basically preparing food in advance, then freezing it, so you can either quickly cook- or reheat it (if you initially cook prior to freezing)- so that you don’t have to take much time to prepare the meal on the day you eat it.
Generally when people do freezer meals, they freeze a good amount of meals to last them for a certain time period, such as a week, a couple of weeks, or a month- sometimes even longer than a month. (Just a note, if you plan on freezing food for a month or more, make sure the type of foods you’re freezing will last well that long in the freezer, as some foods have a shorter freezer life than others.)
I have to say that I really like doing freezer meals. Unfortunately, I haven’t included these with my meal planning as of lately, due to not always having enough time to prepare everything at once, and also because I’m not sure if some of the recipes I will use are freezer-friendly.
A lot of meals do freeze well, but not all, so if you are new to freezer meals, it’s good to start with meals that specifically have been tested in the freezer by someone already.
But anyways, there you have it! These are the top 4 reasons why you should meal plan. I started meal planning and will never stop. Never!
Hopefully it works just as well for you! Check out this other post where I go into my step-by-step meal planning process, which has some great tips- whether you are a newbie or just looking for ideas.
P.S. Don’t forget to grab our FREE Printable Flavorful Meal Plan Guide here.
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