Did you know that Meal Plan Monday was a thing? Maybe it’s Meal Prep Monday?
It has a nice ring to it.
I actually do Meal Plan Sunday because I can go grocery shopping on Sunday, but if Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday work for you — whatever day you will do meal planning (even if you’re planning at breakfast for the rest of the day) is a good time to do meal planning.
I like meal planning for two reasons.
- I eat 1000% more vegetables when I meal plan (and generally choose healthier foods on Sunday afternoon when I’m well rested and relaxed than I do when I’m worn out and emotionally exhausted on Thursday evening).
- I waste less food when I meal plan
- I save money when I meal plan
I realize that is three reasons, but wasting food and saving money are kind of the same thing. However, there are two ways that meal planning saves me money. First is the food I don’t throw away because I have a plan to use it (I bought lots of aspirational kale before I had any idea how to use it). Now, I don’t buy kale unless I have at least three opportunities on my meal plan to use it.
Second, I don’t eat as much convenience food or fast food because I’m making meals at home.
Now, I just did a google search for meal planning, and makes it look really hard.
When I started meal planning, I took a blank piece of paper, made a chart with the days of the week and a space for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and filled in the spots with meals. Then I checked my pantry to see if I already had any of the food (okay, let’s be honest, that step came after I realized I had three jars of cumin and 87 cans of diced tomatoes), then I made a list of the things I didn’t have and went to the store to buy them.
Meal planning means I don’t buy a frozen pizza and break-and-bake cookies every night because I’m too tired and hungry to make a decision about what to eat. Which saves me money, and saves me from myself (because I would eat DiGiorno pizza every. single. day.)
Here are a couple of observations from my practice of meal planning.
1) Meal Planning doesn’t mean you never eat out. It just means you’re choosing it instead of defaulting to take out. To me, it feels great when I think ahead, “hmm…Saturday is going to be a work day, and that would be a great time to go to the smoothie place in our shopping center.” Knowing I’m going to have that on Saturday makes it easier for me to not say on Wednesday, “look it’s been a long week, let’s go to the smoothie place for all our meals.”
2) Meal planning can mean you eat the same thing all the time (if that’s what you like)
I love this meme from Modern Mommy Madness.
Because I have SOOOOOO done this. It took a year of meal planning for me to realize that I cannot try more than one new recipe a week. That meant that when I only knew how to make three meals, I had to use those recipes a lot, which was okay. I learned how to make more.
What I really love about meal planning is that I only go to the grocery store once a week, and if I have made a realistic list, I don’t have to battle with myself about what to eat. Also, Oreos and ice cream rarely come into my kitchen, so I don’t have to agonize about those cookies in my pantry taunting me all week about how they’re in there and I’m not eating them yet.
A final thought
If meal planning is new to you, it’s also useful to remember to start small and easy.
There’s nothing wrong with planning for boxed macaroni and cheese. Maybe that’s not where you’ll end up in a year, but for now, baby steps
Do you do meal planning?
What works for you?
Also (this can be useful to know) what doesn’t work for you?