One of the best things I ever started doing was meal planning a week at a time (and yes, sometimes I go crazy and even plan 2 weeks in advance). We have almost entirely stopped throwing food away, I am much less stressed during the week. I don’t have to go to the store multiple days back to back, it saves us a ton of money, and we’ve been able to eat much healthier. Let me explain these points a little better:
- Minimizing food waste – If you had opened our fridge 4 or 5 years ago there was an endless stack of Tupperware and to be honest I couldn’t tell you which mac and cheese was from last night and which one was from last week (or maybe the week before). By planning our meals an entire week at a time we rarely have anything in the fridge for more than a day or two and we hardly ever throw food away.
- Less stress – I know I can’t be the only parent that has 1-2 hours of commute time every day. Between my shift at work and the commute I feel like I have no time left by the time we get home. It was so stressful for me to then be wondering what I needed to do right away so that we could try to eat a meal at a decent time. By planning the week in advance I know what foods need to be defrosting the night before or more often than not the meal is cooked and just needs to be heated.
- Fewer trips to the store – We used to live about a mile from the grocery store and I’d be lying if I said I was there less than 4 times a week. I think the convenience made me hardly even notice that I was doing it. Now, we live significantly further from the grocery store and it’s an entire endeavor when I need to get groceries. I can make my lists and hardly ever need to go to the store more than once a week (and even then it’s only that often for fresh milk and produce).
- Save money – By knowing the game plan in advance you don’t resort to the “I’m tired and don’t have time to cook so I’m just going to pick up a pizza” plan. Sadly, it’s easily over $20 to take a family of 4 out for fast food these days. Also, I’ve made hundreds of recipes that call for much less of an ingredient than you have to buy in order to get that ingredient. I feel like celery is one of those ingredients. You use a few stalks and throw the rest back in the fridge promising to make something else with it before it goes bad. Then you forget that it’s even there and in a few weeks you have those lovely discolored stalks sitting in the bottom of the produce drawer. Planning in advance allows you to pick multiple recipes that will use the same odd ingredient so that you don’t have to throw any of it away. Plus, you can shop the sale ads and plan accordingly!
- Eat healthier – Let’s face it, I don’t know anyone that doesn’t wish they ate better (myself included) but you can easily eliminate eating out and planning more well balanced meals by thinking about it ahead of time (and when you’re not hungry). Plus, you’re dropping the frozen dinners and fast food which can’t ever hurt in the nutrition department.
Have I caught your attention? Good! Check out my post on How To Meal Prep.