Hands down there are four words that can take me from feeling great to feeling defeated – “What should we eat?” And usually when those words are being uttered I have zero decision making power left in my body. With summer here (and being home so much!) it can be a double whammy because those words can come up multiple times a day.
While planning meals in the summer is not really different than meal planning any other time of the year, summer can be a great time to get yourself into a routine. Most of us eat lighter, meals are simpler, there is usually an abundance of fresh ingredients, and all the grilling. By getting into the habit now you can be more prepared to continue the habit when we get back into fall and winter.
Meal Planning Has Lots of Benefits
Saves Time and Money
There are a lot of benefits to doing meal planning, and two of the biggest are that it will save you time and money. It will help to avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery store for something “quick:” to make. Another added benefit is that it gets rid of the time that is wasted going back and forth about what to eat. Deciding if you ‘should’ cook is only the first part, then you have to decide ‘what’ to cook. If you are like my family, in the end you will be so exhausted by the “What should we eat?” cycle that you just go out to eat anyway.
Planning allows you to make a more focused shopping list because you are only getting the things that you need thereby cutting down on impulse buying. I am the worst when it comes to the grocery store. If I wander I will keep picking, convince myself that I need this or that for a recipe that I probably won’t make. Plus it helps to prevent the constant cycle of takeout and dining out. Both of these will make your budget a lot happier.
Eat Healthier and Avoid Food Waste
When we think about what we eat in advance, chances are we will make better choices. You can also make healthier choices because planning gives you an opportunity to incorporate more variety in the foods that you prepare. I don’t know about you, but if I have salad fixings on hand then I’m more likely to make a salad. And…if I don’t have the supplies on hand, we go out, and chances are I’m not ordering a salad.
Having the right foods on hand based on your meal plan helps you to reduce food waste because you are buying what you need, when you need it and not impulse buying. Buying what you ‘think’ you might need is the best way to have a whole bunch of stuff you aren’t going to use. So planning is really one of the easiest ways to avoid throwing out unused and expired food.
Encourages Others to Be Involved in Meal Prep
Meal planning is also a way to get the whole household involved. You can assign nights where one person is in charge of the meal. The Mayor loves this because we have a house rule…if you cook, you don’t have to clean-up. If you have younger kiddos that are not old enough to prepare a meal, you can integrate their choices into your plan. Sometimes this is great because it gives an easy meal…chicken nuggets or mac & cheese anyone?!?
And…it will lessen the incidence of the dreaded “What should we eat?”
This is the first of a multi part series on meal planning. Please be sure to follow me so that you get notified when new content is posted. Up next, picking a meal planning strategy that will work for you.