There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to make dinner only to find out everything is either frozen or you’re missing key ingredients for the meal you had in mind. Now what? Well, most of the time you throw a meal together that doesn’t quite work out and eventually your left ordering take-out…again. This not only takes a toll on your wallet but also causes unnecessary stress.
I love organization. It’s one of the things in life that brings me so much peace. I think that’s why I make lists for literally everything. For me, when life is organized I’m at peace. Now don’t go getting the wrong idea. I’m far from perfect, but I have found that the more organized I am the better mom and wife I am, the less stressed I get, and the more patient I am with my kiddos.
With meals the same organizational concepts apply. They should be organized just like all the other rooms in your home. If I was to ask you why your DVD’s or CD’s are organized your response would probably be, “So it’s easier for me to find what I want.” Exactly! Meals are the same way. If you have your meals planned a head of time, it makes the process of preparing the meal much easier.
Not only does meal prepping make the preparation of meals easier but it benefits your life in many different ways. Here are my top 7 reasons why you should pre-plan your meals.
1. LOWERS STRESS
When you spend your day dealing with tantrums, laundry, and wiping butts the last thing you want to deal with is the, “What’s for dinner?” dilemma. The peace of knowing and having dinner all laid out will instantly lower your stress levels.
2. HELPS YOU LOSE WEIGHT
Having all your meals planned out ahead of time means you won’t be eating out every meal and in turn it will help you lose weight.
3. STOP WASTING FOOD
When I wasn’t planning my meals I was constantly throwing away produce that went bad. When you’re meals are planned out then you’re only buying what you need and nothing more, so no waste!
4. GROCERY SHOPPING WILL BE EASIER
When you have pre-planned your meals and have a shopping list all laid out it makes shopping easier and faster since you’re not wandering up and down every isle trying to put meals together right there in the store.
5. YOU WILL BECOME A BETTER COOK
When you meal plan you’re going to spend more time in the kitchen cooking real, homemade, and healthy meals. So, you’re bound to pick up a few new cooking tips and tricks.
6. SAVES YOU TIME
Now you won’t be wasting time rummaging through your kitchen every night trying to figure out what the heck is for dinner, and you won’t be walking aimlessly down every isle of the grocery store while shopping.
7. SAVES YOU MONEY
Meal planning saves you money in three major ways.
- You will now only be buying what’s on your shopping list. This will keep you from wasting money on produce that will eventually go bad and be thrown away.
- Since your meals are pre-planned you will only go grocery shopping once every two weeks or so. This means you won’t be running to the store every couple of days for 1 or 2 items and coming home with 30.
- You won’t be eating out as often since all your meals are already planned. This means more money in your pocket! We all know eating out is a small fortune all in itself.
Meal planning can be a new concept for some people. So you may be asking yourself where to start. Don’t worry, I’m going to give you an easy run down on how to plan your meals and save your sanity all at the same time.
- The first thing you want to do is make a list of meal ideas. Scroll through Pinterest or look through your cookbooks and find some new meals that you want to make. If you’re on a tight budget, then you will want to go through your pantry and take inventory of what you have on hand first. Next, design your meals around what you already have. This will help you lower your grocery bill.
- Go through your list of meals and pick out the ones you want to make and write them on the Meal Planning Calendar. I suggest planning out 2 weeks of meals at a time. This way the number of trips to the grocery store drops down and in turn you will save money. Think about it. When was the last time you went to the store for only two things and you actually only bought those two things? Yeah probably never or very, very seldom. We spend more money when we are making trips to the grocery store every few days instead of just 1 time every couple weeks.
- Make a grocery list according to the meals you have chosen to make and go grocery shopping. Don’t add or buy unnecessary items. Stick to your list.
- At the beginning of the week choose 7 meals from your Meal Planning Calendar. After you have chosen the 7 meals write them on the Weekly Menu printable.
TIP: Choose meals that contain ingredients that expire sooner rather than later and put them in order accordingly.
TIP: Laminate the Weekly Menu printable so you can easily change meals if needed.
- Take 5-10 minutes each night and prep for the meal the following day. Take necessary items out of the freezer, chop the veggies if needed, etc.
- When it’s time to make your dinner enjoy the peace of not having to go through the, “What’s for dinner?” dilemma.
If meal planning is a foreign concept for you, then I challenge you to try it for just 1 week, that’s it. At the end of the week think back on how your week went. Did life seem to run a little smoother? Where you less stressed? Less irritable? Did you enjoy your meals more? How about your money, did you spend less on food this week than you normally do?
If you go through 1 week of meal planning and feel like it didn’t benefit you in any way I will be shocked, especially if you’re a mom. For me, at the end of the day my brain is fried. There are only so many toddler tantrums and sibling rivalry fights I can handle in one day before my brain is flat out done. By the time dinner rolls around I’m exhausted and not having to figure out the meal is like a sweet mini vacation for my tired and weary brain.
So, if you find yourself in the, “What’s for dinner?’ dilemma every night and you’re ready to take the guess work out of your meals then meal planning is just what you need. Download the free meal planning printables below and start with just a week or two at a time. Once you have that mastered you can start organizing other areas in your life like; your chores, to-do lists, goals; projects, rooms and much more.
Download Your FREE 'Meal Planning' Printable Set Below!