5 Reasons You Should Be Meal Planning7/09/2014
Now, a lot has changed in seven years — the size of my family, store prices, policies, etc. — but my process is still the same, and the first step in my process is planning our meals. My husband is paid bi-weekly, and while I used to shop for two weeks at a time, we are now living in a smaller home (with a smaller fridge and freezer), so I now shop weekly. I don't plan our breakfasts or our lunches each day, considering most days that consists of cereal and sandwiches, so our meal planning is primarily for dinner. I know some people that meal plan every meal, but that doesn't work for us for several reasons. Even with only planning for dinner, doing so saves us a ton of money!
With that said, let's get into the five reasons I believe you should be meal planning:
For example, when I plan our dinners, I first go and check our fridge, freezer and pantry to see what we have/need to prepare those meals. Whatever we're lacking goes on the list. I have a strict "if it's not on the list, it doesn't get bought" rule, so I better hope I don't forget any ingredients! Knowing what meals you'll be making eliminates the splurge buys while at the store, or the "I can't remember if we have [insert condiment here], so I'll just get another" scenario. You know what you'll be making, you've checked your stash, and you're ready to go!
- I know exactly what I'm making, what I need to make it, how long it will take me, etc.
- There's no surprises, and no eight o'clock dinner because Mommy forgot dinner had to sit in a marinade, or bake for 45 minutes.
With a meal plan in place, you and your family can sit down together and decide what you want to eat. I usually break out the recipe box, Pinterest board, and bookmarked recipes folder to look for meals I either haven't made before, or haven't made in a while. Then, I ask my family if that's something they'd like to have. I usually try to incorporate one new meal per week and one oldie-but-goodie that's not part of our usual rotation. However, we usually wind up with several new meals, because I'm always trying out new recipes. In any case, this step avoids the same meal every week dilemma I had growing up. We always ate the same things every week of every month of every year... unless it was a birthday or holiday. Stop the cycle. Meal plan. Save yourselves!
For example, I remember the first time I made Bruschetta Pesto Chicken Casserole. My family loved it, but it wasn't something I would have thought up myself, nor would I have had all the necessary ingredients on-hand. Meal planning allowed me to find the recipe in my bookmarks, designate a day for it, purchase everything I needed to make it, and have enough time to prepare it to enjoy at our regular dinnertime. And, what's probably most important, we now have a new, healthy recipe to add to our regular rotation! Kid approved!
Good luck, and happy meal planning!