Keeping your family healthy and full isn’t always the easiest job in the world. When you’re dealing with different preferences, an ever-changing inventory of food in the fridge, and a packed schedule, finding time to prepare nutritious meals can be a real challenge.
If this sounds familiar, consider meal planning. Meal planning is exactly what it sounds like – the process of writing out what you intend to cook and eat for the week and developing a menu for your family. When done right, meal planning can make your life a whole lot easier. Not convinced? Here are a handful of reasons why meal planning might be a smart choice for your family:
You’ll save money. Heading into the shop with a meal plan in place will almost always save you money on your shopping. Knowing what you need to buy before you leave your house gives you a chance to scan the weekly offers and see what’s on sale, and limiting the number of times you’re at the shop each week will also limit your chances to splurge on snacks or items that weren’t necessarily on your list.
You’ll waste less. Most of us are guilty of throwing away food. After all, it’s easy to forget about the lettuce in the back of the crisper or lose track of the expiration date on the chicken. Every time you discard something you didn’t get around to eating, you’re putting your dollars straight into the trash can. Buying less food and having a plan for the things in your fridge means you’re less likely to let fruits, veggies and other edibles spoil.
Instead of stuffing your fridge and whipping up whatever comes to mind, move into the week with a plan in mind for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. You’ll be more likely to buy only the things you need, and you’ll actually use the ingredients you’ve purchased, meaning you’ll be less inclined to let the food in your fridge spoil.
You’ll save time. Planning out your meals for the week in one fell swoop might take a few minutes of your time, especially if you’re just starting out. However, once you’ve developed a few weekly menus and found fun, fresh meals to incorporate into your family’s rotation, it’ll be much easier to decide what you’d like to add to the weekly lineup. Save your favourite recipes to a Pinterest board or bookmark them in your web browser to make them even easier to find next time.
You’ll eat healthier. Not having a plan in place for dinner can make it tempting to cave in and grab fast food or order a pizza for the family. Scrambling to find something to cook is no fun at all, especially at the end of a long day. Having a meal plan in place will help you make smarter choices by putting some thought into them in advance. It’s easier to commit to a healthier choice when your stomach isn’t growling!
You’ll eat a more varied diet. When you aren’t planning your meals in advance, it can be easy to default to the same handful of recipes you know how to pull together in a rush. Meal planning forces you to look at your week as a whole and make decisions about what you’ll cook in advance. It can be a lot of fun to explore new recipes and incorporate fun new dishes into your weekly rotation, and it’ll keep your family from getting bored.
You’ll stress less. Coming up with something to cook in a pinch can be a little stressful, especially if you aren’t the most comfortable chef in the kitchen. Knowing what’s for dinner and what you need to do to transform your ingredients into entrees and side dishes well in advance can help you move through your day with a little more ease.
If you meal plan, what benefits has your family experienced from the process? Leave a comment and let me know!