Meal planning. Who does that? Only athletes and health freaks, that is what I thought many years. I have tried it a couple of times before, but never even managed to write down one week of meal planning. I read about it, thought it was a good idea, but that was about it. I thought it was hard and unnecessary. I thought thinking ahead for more than two days of what to eat was too much to ask. And yet, many days I could not find any inspiration for what to put on the table. I have to admit that it does take a while to figure out how meal planning works, how to make a shopping list, when to prepare the food in advance. But most of all, meal planning is maybe not necessary, but it helps a lot to in many ways. It clear you mind and life. It helps you space for more things to enjoy. It simplifies your daily life.
We just started this year with meal planning for our family. I did some research, I gathered recipes, I read on different blogs other people’s experiences. I must admit that reading other blogs got me inspired. Also seeing examples of how people do meal planning was very useful. Visual are really powerful. So, I got engaged. Also because I wanted to eat healthier, more whole foods, less refined sugar and carbs, more vegetables and fish. And before I knew it , I made myself a template for meal planning and I started planning. And I can say I enjoy it so much already, that I need to share with you the benefits of meal planning.
Meal planning saves time. It might be a little more work till you get the hang of it, but just think of all the time you save not going almost daily to the supermarket. You also don’t lose time looking around aimlessly what to buy. And you don’t waste time thinking everyday what shall I cook for dinner now. If you start meal prepping on a fixed day of the week, you invest a little more time on that day, but saves you lots of time on stressful, working days.
Meal planning saves money. It is a shock to realise how often I used to throw away food. Even in the last years, when I was very aware of food and environment. If you don’t buy impulsively, or because something is on sale, you probably end up not wasting money by throwing away unused and perished food. So not only you save money, you reduce food waste, which is a very sustainable thing to do too. You can create a meal plan where all the ingredients go together. When you go shopping, with your shopping list according to your meal plan, you buy purposely, so you buy less.
Meal planning makes you healthier. When you are uninspired what to cook, you are more likely to stick a frozen pizza in the oven or order Chinese. Or you grab unhealthy snacks in between meals. But when you plan your meals, your weekly meals are more nutritionally well-balanced. You plan in advance and you don’t shop hungry and go for the easy, usually unhealthy stuff.
Meal planning decreases stress. You don’t have use a lot of energy everyday to figure out ‘what’s for dinner next’. You don’t have to squeeze in shopping for groceries between all your other daily activities. You don’t have to worry too much if you eat well-balanced. All these things to worry less about, are really helping to sensibly reduce your stress level. Also, on the long-term, when you have made more meal plans, you can reuse them and that will also mean less stress and more free time as well.
So, my 4th week of meal planning just started. How about you? You can find plenty of free templates for meal planning on internet. Why don’t you give it try?