If meal planning takes extra work, why would you want a meal plan?
I feed my family for pennies on the dollar, and meal planning is one of the major ways that I use to do that.
Even with a family of nine, I am still able to feed my family for $250 a month. I have learned so many tricks on cutting costs when it comes to the money we spend feeding our families, and I LOVE sharing my bag of tricks with you.
As someone who has been meal planning for years, I’ve got 10 reasons why you want a meal plan.
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1. Meal plans save stress
Is there anything more stressful than having to come up with what’s for dinner every night? Creating a meal plan that lasts at least an entire week only requires you to have to think of what’s for dinner once in an entire week!
With a meal plan, you are covering that base once for at least seven days. If you meal plan for an entire month at a time – even better! This is my number one benefit for putting forth the effort of meal planning. This is the most stress-free method I have found when it comes to meal planning…and stocking my freezer at the same time!
2. You can shop or cook at any time
When you know everything you need for an entire week, you can get all your shopping done when and how it is most convenient for you. When following the steps of meal planning as I lay them out in Menu Planning 101 Part One and Menu Planning 101 Part Two, you start by taking an inventory of what you have on hand.
This way, you will be able to create an accurate shopping list of everything you will need throughout the duration of your meal plan. Likewise, when you know what you are preparing all week, you can make parts of the meals at any time.
3. You can take full advantage of weekly sales
Because you know what you are making ahead of time, you can shop around for the best price. Again, if you are following the steps as I lay them out in making a meal plan, taking into account the weekly sales is my second step when it comes to making a meal plan.
4. Others can help
Help? Yes, really, others can help when they know what they can help with. Even if they are not old enough to read the meal plan, you can guide little ones with little things they can do to help like gathering ingredients from the pantry or refrigerator, helping deal with fresh vegetables like tearing lettuce for salad, and even stirring something that is easy to stir. If you have older kids or a spouse who knows what’s for dinner, you can tell them to get started on it. After all, they like to eat, right?!
5. You can multi-task like a pro
The kitchen is my favorite place to multi-task because it is so easy to do. For instance, if you are needing chicken for two meals in a week, you can cook the full amount of what you need for BOTH recipes. This is multi-tasking at it’s best.
Multi-tasking is one of the tips I share in 8 Meal Prep Tips That Will Save You Loads of Time. While you are waiting for the pasta water to boil, you can cut the vegetables you will need for the salad at dinner tomorrow. There are so many amazing ways to multi-task in the kitchen – as long as you know what you are preparing ahead of time!
6. No one ever has to ask, “What’s for dinner?”
I think this question strikes fear into the hearts of moms everywhere…when they have no idea what the answer is. Creating a meal plan means that you always know the answer, and if your family members are old enough to read, they never even have to ask. I NEVER hear this question anymore, and I don’t miss it one bit!
7. Meal planning saves you money with sale shopping
In addition to being able to effectively shop sales, meal planning saves you money in other ways. When taking an inventory of what you have on hand as part of your meal planning process, you will avoid losing track of food items that may have otherwise gone bad.
When you meal plan and see that you will be using a certain fresh ingredient, you can choose recipes that will accommodate all of that ingredient. For example, if I need fresh cilantro for one dish, I know that I will have some left over in most cases and can choose a dish that will call for more fresh cilantro. There are so many recipes that only call for a small amount of something. With a meal plan, you can avoid wasting the leftovers.
8. You enjoy more variety and creativity in the meals you eat
If you prepare meals only based on what you can come up with in the heat of the moment, you are so much more likely to just go for the ol’ standbys. When you have the time to decide on meals and are not under pressure, you can discover some new recipes and expand your family’s repertoire. Being creative in the kitchen really is fun, but it is nearly impossible if you are creating meals under the stress of just needing to get something on the table. The creativity and amazing variety in this program alone is amazing!
9. Meal planning again saves you money since you are not going to be grabbing convenience meals because you don’t have the time, energy, or direction when it comes time to feeding your family
We are all guilty of grabbing something that can throw our food budget for a loop due to poor planning – or no planning at all.
10. No last minute trips to the store
When you know what you are doing ahead of time, you can take care of things ahead of time. When it comes to making meals, this means that there are no last minute trips to the store. There is nothing worse than discovering you are out of something you thought you had because you didn’t check ahead of time!
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