Those that read my blog regularly will know that we meal plan at the start of every week. JHogg grumbles every single time, but for me it is totally worth it to have it done and written down in advance.
However, this week I’m off enjoying some Majorcan sunshine, so I don’t have to do a meal plan this week. Instead I thought I would share with you the 5 main reasons why I meal plan, and why I think you should to!
1. Less Takeaways And Junk Food
If we don’t have a plan for dinner we are far more likely to call in for a takeaway or eat some convenience food. This is something we really struggle with. Its bad for our health and for our bank balance!
When I plan our meals I know exactly what we’re having, when I need to start to prepare it and that I have all the ingredients at home and ready to go. A healthy meal plan means we now appreciate the takeaways far more as they are less regular and back to being a treat.
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2. Less Food Waste
Prior to my menu planning days I would go to the supermarket and buy just whatever I thought we might need. Regularly I wasn’t able to make a full evening meal out of them for a whole week so would need to go back and get some more things a few days later.
Items regularly went to waste, or were frozen for a “later” that just never came. By planning our meals in advance I only buy what we will need for the week. I can utilise everything we buy fully with a little forward planning.
For example, if I buy asparagus to use as a side to a chicken dish one night, I will plan to have a risotto which I can use the rest of the packet in a day or two later. I am also able to utilise food from the freezer more effectively. If I know we’re going to have a chicken dish the next day I know to pull the meat out the night before.
It’s not a perfect system, we do still freeze food that we haven’t used and occasionally don’t use everything up fully, but it’s a lot less common and we can make a conscious effort to avoid it through our weekly meal plans.
3. Saving money
Hand in hand with wasting less, I spend far less if I am going in to the supermarket for certain things. I write a list and try to stick to it. It’s not always easy, but these days the extras we buy are more likely to be snacks rather than main meal items.
You can take it up a notch and have a budget for your weekly shop. Plan your meals around your budget, and take cold hard cash with you to the supermarket. That way you can’t over spend! It’s not something we do too often, but its a great way to reset occasionally and realise how much extra we spend unnecessarily.
My favourite way to make sure we stick to our family meal plan is to do our food shopping online. There’s no excuse for forgetting anything and no sneaking extras in to the trolley. And the best bit is I don’t have to take Piglet with me around the shop!
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4. Less stress
I hate that point in the evening where you don’t know what you’re having for dinner, you know you need to start cooking, the baby is moaning and you just can’t think straight. By planning in advance you know what you’re having, you know the ingredients are there.
Time is valuable to all of us. I don’t like rushing to cook a meal and getting flustered if what I need isn’t there. The less time I spend worrying about dinner, the more time I have to sit down and enjoy eating it – and maybe even gain 5 minutes spare to just chill out!
If there is any prep that can be done in advance then I will often do it during the day
when if Piglet takes a nap, making dinner even easier later on.
5. Everyone can help
JHogg and I “disagree” on what makes a good meal usually so by doing a meal plan at the start of the week together we both get to eat meals that we enjoy throughout the week. If you have fussy eaters planning in advance is a great way to get everyone involved.
One great way of speeding up the planning process is to create a list of all your favourite foods as a family. That way you have a database to pick from when you’re drawing a blank. You can then add to it as and when you discover a new recipe.
If you’re looking for menu inspiration then check out my pinterest. I have a board with loads of my favourite recipes so dinner time never has to be boring.
So what do you think? Will you give it a go?
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