If you’re used to being spontaneous with your choice of meals, the idea of planning your meals for the week in advance might seem tedious and unappealing, but there are some definite advantages involved. Over a year ago, my husband and I got into meal planning and I must admit it rocks. Today, I want to convince you why it rocks. Here are 6 reasons why meal planning is a good idea:
1. You’ll save money
By working out your household’s meals in advance, you’ll save money in food costs which can help with paying off debt. Planning what you’ll eat means that you’re less likely to fall for impulse buys –as long as you stick to your list! When you’re putting together your shopping list, try to organize it in line with the layout of the shop. If you can just move from aisle to aisle getting what you need, you can bypass the tempting treats and speed through your shopping.
2. You’ll spend less time in the supermarket
Not only will you get through your food shopping trips much more quickly thanks to your strict list, you’ll also be making fewer trips in the first place. By buying only what you’ve deemed to be the essentials, you shouldn’t need to make subsequent trips for ‘top-up’ shopping as you’ll already have worked out what you need.
3. You’ll waste less food
Most people throw away a lot of food from the average weekly shop but this can be avoided through meal planning. Anything that is left over from one meal can be eaten for lunch or as a snack the next day.
4. You’ll save time
If you cook batches of meals when you’ve got the time, you can just defrost them and eat them without having to get involved in any cooking. This is a great luxury when you come home at the end of a long day and can’t be bothered to cook. Because you’ve made the meals from scratch yourself, it’s much healthier than putting a ready meal in the oven or microwave. I have found this also works good for work lunches too.
5. You’ll eat healthier
When you know what you’re going to be eating for dinner that evening, you’re far less likely to take the easy option and opt for a ready meal or take out. Meal planning helps you eat healthy on a budget. Making meals from scratch might sound like a major hassle but it’s a great way to make sure that you’re eating healthy food. You can control the ingredients so you know exactly what’s going into the meal. Plus, if you pick quicker recipes for the during the week, you won’t have to spend a ton of time getting food on the plate after working all day.
6. You can plan ahead
We’ve all had days when you feel like you’ve barely got enough time to breathe, let alone summon up the energy to cook. Meal planning gives you the flexibility to simply open the freezer and reach for some leftovers to dish up. Sure, it may seem repetitive but it’s a godsend when you’re running low on time and energy.
Of course, this luxury requires a bit of preparatory legwork. You’ll need to set aside a day or two to batch cook the meals that you plan to eat as part of your meal plans and freeze them ready for when you need them. It’s up to you whether you do this on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis and a lot will depend on how much free time you can put aside for batch cooking.
Meal Planning on a Budget
- Buy only what you need – The whole concept of meal planning is based around deciding what you’ll eat in advance so it’s vital that you do this.
- Keep an eye out for offers – When you spot an offer on food that you eat regularly, snap it up. For non-perishables or items that you can freeze, you can build up a mini stockpile ready to delve into. I do this a lot in the summer when produce is so fresh and affordable.
- Use what you’ve got – Many of us have got food lingering in cupboards that is perfectly edible but hasn’t been used up for one reason or another. This can go a long way towards reducing your food costs, in the short term at least. See if you can incorporate items that you’ve already got into your meal planning. Last year we did a grocery challenge and we saved a bunch of money for a couple months by using up what we already had.