Sometimes planning meals seems like it can take up more time than it’s worth (especially when you’re busy), but planning meals ahead can end up saving you a lot of time in the long run.
A busy day can become much less stressful when you realize you have a healthy, tasty meal waiting for you. Here are some great reasons why you should plan meals:
Planning meals ahead of time can be a great way to save time and reduce stress. You won’t have to worry about what you’re making for dinner or what you need to buy because it will already be done!
By planning meals ahead you can reduce the number of times you get take-out which can be more expensive than making dinner at home. You can also build your meal plan for the week around discounts and coupons.
You’re more likely to make good food choices ahead of time than when you are in a rush to get dinner on the table. When planning ahead, you can consider healthy options and incorporate them into your meals.
Planning ahead gives you time to enjoy meals with your whole family. Eating together as a family has many benefits of its own including connecting with your family and increasing your children’s vocabulary.
Planning ahead is a great way to try out new recipes. You can decide what day you will have time to make a new recipe and you can prepare by getting all the ingredients you need from the store.
Less Food Waste
When you know what every food you bought is for, ingredients won’t go bad and get thrown out as often. For example: if you decide ahead of time that you’ll try a new fruit or veggie with a meal, you will be more likely to actually eat it.
Tips for meal planning
Meal planning might seem like a great idea to you, but maybe it hasn’t worked out well in the past. Here are some tips for making meal planning easier, so you can make the most of your time:
Designate a Planning Day
Spend 30 minutes or an hour planning all the meals for a week, or however long you want. Setting aside a good chunk of time to focus on meal planning can help you make better food choices.
Choose a shopping day
This can be the same day as your planning day – or not! Set aside time when you can go to the store to get everything on your grocery list. Once you are done with the trip, you won’t have to go back for another week.
Choose Your Go-to Meals
Come up with 10 or more go-to meals that you know will work for you and your family. If you can’t think of 10, you might want to try some new recipes. Write down all the ingredients in those meals. Later, when you’re choosing meals, it will be easy to see what you need. Plus, you know your family will like whatever you’ve planned.
Write Everything Down
Go through all the meals for the week and write down all the ingredients you’ll need from the store. Add everything to a grocery list, so you won’t have to make a second trip to the store for forgotten ingredients.
Consider Coupons and Deals
Many grocery stores have weekly coupons. Take advantage of them by incorporating foods with discounts into your weekly meal plan.
Keep a Meal Journal
Write down meals and recipes that went well for you and your family so you can remember to make them again.
Plan for Leftovers
If you know you are going to make more food than you will need, then you can plan to eat leftovers the next day. Just make sure to safely store the leftover food!
Don’t Forget Breakfast and Lunch
Make sure you buy foods for breakfast! A simple breakfast like oatmeal and a piece of fruit is much better than no breakfast at all.
Take Inventory at Home
Look through all the ingredients you already have before you go buy more at the store! This will help reduce food waste.
Stock up on Non-Perishables
Some foods can stay in the pantry or freezer for a long time before going bad. When you see foods like this on sale, make sure to stock up! Some items that are good to stock up on are dry or canned beans, frozen veggies, peanut butter, and rice.
Do Prep Work
Prepping food when you have time makes cooking way easier when you’re in a hurry. Prepped foods like chopped vegetables or sliced melon can stay in the refrigerator for a couple of days before they need to be used in a recipe.