I started this blog almost exactly 3 years ago (20th March, I really should put it in my diary). I started meal planning while completing the Baby Steps that started the blog. So after approximately 2 1/2 half years of meal planning I think I could say that I have a pretty good handle on it.
Are you thinking of starting to meal plan? I thought I’d share my top 5 reasons to meal plan and maybe I can persuade you!
My Top 5 Reasons to Meal Plan
1. It saves time!
I’m sure you think I must be joking. How can having to choose meals and write them all down and everything actually save time?!
Well, no joke, it really does.
I spend perhaps half an hour on a Saturday evening to sit and work out the week. You could do it any day of the week, or work on it throughout the week before, but there shouldn’t be a need to spend any more than half an hour, at most an hour, selecting recipes and assigning meals. Mine tends to take longer as I then write my meal plan post for the week.
That half an hour to an hour a week can set you up for the rest of the week. No thinking each day about what to cook, no stuffing around at the supermarket trying to work out what to buy.
I print the meal plan (using my weekly planning template) and put it up on the fridge. I then use a marker to cross off each meal as well as activity and task. Having everything there in front of me saves me time from looking around, trying to work out what’s happening each day.
2. It saves money!
I have weeks when I go all out and plan meals based on elaborate recipes and exotic ingredients (normally if I get a fancier magazine or cookbook). But most weeks I’m cooking basic family meals and trying to keep to a budget.
By looking at your meals for the week you are able to see when you can reuse ingredients and when you can use cheaper ingredients. You save more at the supermarket as you go in with a plan and don’t get sucked in (as much!) by impulse buys. You can also easily do your grocery shopping online as you have a list of ingredients right in front of you. You can plan to use up meat from the freezer or veggies that have gone a bit soft. You also save money by not impulse buying takeaway when it’s just too hard to work out what to cook!
3. It makes cooking interesting!
Before I started meal planning I found it very easy to get stuck in a rut and ended up cooking the same meals over and over. I stuck to the old favourites, the things I knew I could cook. I wasn’t trying new foods or cuisines and was rather bored.
Since I started meal planning I’m forced to look for recipes and meal ideas and become more creative. I buy lots of recipe magazines and trawl Pinterest looking for interesting new recipes and my repertoire has expanded substantially.
I even find cooking shows interesting now!
4. It improves your cooking skills!
As I said above I tended to stick to the same meals each week. I wasn’t a very confident cook and even marrying a chef who gave me lots of tips didn’t give me the confidence to try many different cooking styles. I was getting bored of having spaghetti bolognese and frozen fish and veggies every week.
When I started meal planning I started to find recipes that expanded on the skills I already had plus helped me to branch out into new ones. I had time to study the recipes and learn the techniques. I still wasn’t very good but by planning to cook the meals again in following weeks I was able to get better.
Now my repertoire is much more expansive and I feel confident to try new recipes and techniques.
5. It helps you to be healthy!
Obviously this also depends on what you plan! But with a little extra focus and planning you can ensure that your family is eating a well balanced diet. I try to ensure that we eat a range of proteins, plus at least 1 vegetarian meal, each week. I can also check that we are eating a range of side dishes and eating a good amount of vegetables.
Meal planning is also great for different diets and dietary requirements. By extending the planning to lunches and other meals and snacks you can regulate exactly what you are eating and also see the meals more clearly.
Plus one extra!
6. It’s surprisingly fun!
I only ever used to read trashy or fashion magazines but now I find I’m obsessed with recipe magazines. I love finding new recipes and I love putting together the meal plan. Suddenly my Pinterest boards are full of recipes and interesting meals and the satisfaction of a well-completed meal plan can not be understated!
So, have I convinced you? Are you interested in meal planning now? Or do you already know all of this? Let me know!