Want to start meal planning but not sure how to or if it’s right for you? This post will give you all the Reasons Why You Should Start Meal Planning and will help motivate you to start planning your meals today.
Don’t let the term “meal planning” scare you as a Homemaker. It will actually be very beneficial for you and your family. Below I’ll share several reasons why you should start planning meals if you have not gotten into it yet. But first, let’s take a look at some reasons why you may feel meal planning is not for you. You may tell yourself:
- I just can’t find time to sit down and plan
- It looks complicated – too much thinking
- There’s not enough time in my schedule to cook, anyway – I’m just too busy
- I prefer to just wing things – I work better that way
- We eat a lot of take-out foods
- And the list could go on. . .
Whatever your reason may be, the benefits of meal planning and following through with it will far out-weigh what’s holding you back from getting started.
How Menu Planning Helps Me as a Homemaker
I have been planning meals for as long as I’ve been a homemaker (or at least as far as I can remember) and it’s been such a huge help when it comes to being in the kitchen. Keep reading to see the reasons why I do it and how it has helped me and how it can help you too!
10 Reasons Why You Should Start Meal Planning
- Feel More Organized – Your meals would be more organized rather than scattered and you most likely won’t cook the same thing 3 days in a row for lack of preparation. And please, don’t let it be toast again for breakfast!
- Have Control Over Meals– You’ll have more control over what you prepare. Instead of “just winging things” you’ll have a plan to follow and know what you are preparing when.
- Cut the “What’s for Dinner” Curiosity – Your family (if they are old enough to read the menu) will know what to expect for dinner and breakfast, lunch too.
- Save time and be effective in the kitchen – If you’ve ever found yourself wondering around your kitchen somewhere around 5:00 pm trying to figure out what to cook (even though your pantry is full), meal planning will clear that right up for you. No more wondering – just check your plan and get to cooking.
- Eat More at Home – Meal planning will help you avoid the regular random ordering of take-outs. It does not mean that you cannot include one or two on your menu if it will benefit your family on certain days. But you most-likely wouldn’t plan a whole menu over eating out.
- Develop Healthier Eating Habits -Meal planning will help you and your family to develop Healthier Eating Habits such as discovering the right food choices. “By planning in advance, you can aim to have nutritionally well-balanced meals throughout the week” (azumio.com). Basically, instead of throwing things together, you’ll be able to think and select meals that has the right nutritional values for your family’s diet which in turn will help them to make better food choices (see reason 7).
- Shape the Way You Eat – Do you have favorite childhood home-cooked meals you really enjoyed and remember how they have shaped the way you eat today? Think about how you too can help your family discover better food choices by bringing that awesomeness in your own Special way at home.
- Save Money on Groceries– Meal planning will save you from buying a bunch of random items and will save you money in the long run. That’s money you can use to invest in other areas of your home such as paying a utility bill or paying off debt.
- Prevent Food Waste (thekitchen.com)- Along with saving money on groceries, by planning your meals and buying what you need for that reason, you will help to prevent food waste. Skipping all the random stuff means that you’d rarely have a ton of stuff lying around going bad that you didn’t use because you didn’t have a plan for them in the first place.
- Builds confidence in the Kitchen – Whether you consider yourself a great cook or not, meal planning will help boost your confidence in the kitchen. You get to experiment with what’s on the menu and develop your cooking skills. If you prepare Baked chicken and steamed veggies instead of fancy chicken and veggie kabobs, you’ll still be happy to serve it to your family! And they most-likely will be happy to eat it.
How You Can Start Meal Planning Today
If you are not into meal planning, I want to encourage you to start thinking about how you can start now. Here are 5 tips to get you started.
- Type of Food Group– First, decide on the types of food your family enjoys (whether it be vegetable based dishes, soups, casseroles, chicken or beef, etc.)
- Type of Cuisine – Second, decide on the type of dinner cuisine your family loves (whether it be American, Italian, Mexican or Hispanic, Greek, etc.)
- Third, jot down the days of the week you’d like to have each type of cuisine (Say Monday – Greek, Tuesday – Hispanic, Wednesday American and so on).
- Pantry/Refrigerator Inventory – Next, check out your pantry/refrigerator – can you make any of the meals you enjoy from what you have in the pantry or refrigerator? I’m assuming you have at least a bit of grocery in your pantry even if you don’t cook often. If not, well you got to go shopping!
- Meal Plan – Then Grab your meal plan printable and get to planning. Make a full week’s plan to start out. I know some people who do up to month in advance. You can eventually do that if you feel extra motivated and is determined to use it. Personally, I have a hard time doing this. I sometimes can do two weeks or more like a week-and a day or two, then I kinda go blank after that time:)
- Plan Your “Eating Out” times – Yes, that means including on your menu days when you are “eating out”. No one says you have to eat at home daily. Maybe your family are having dinner with another family or maybe you are planning to eat out for someone’s birthday, include that on your menu. It’s actually nice to have a little break sometimes. But don’t fill your menu plan with 5 days of eating out or take-outs and two with eating at home. That will defeat the purpose of menu planning!! You want to encourage eating at home as much as possible and planning your meals to get the best results.
- Grocery Shop – Once you have your list made out, don’t forget to Go Buy what you need from the grocery. If you don’t have it you won’t cook and you’ll find yourself ordering too much take-out again.
- Prepare Your Meals – It does no good if you buy groceries and don’t use them. You’ll have to prepare what you plan.
- Bonus Tip: Batch cook – You can definitely batch cook and save for another day. Include that in your menu, too (see the sample menu below for how you can do this).
Note: If you only like one or two types of cuisine, then base your menu off tip #1. If you prefer American only, then do that for your plan. Don’t try to cook something different that no one will like.
I like to start my meal plan with either dinner (and sometimes breakfast) then fill out the lunch slots. Here’s why I do it this way. I find that figuring out dinner takes the longest plus I base lunch off what will be served for dinner. And, typically, I try not to serve a bunch of dried foods in a row. So if we are already eating something like toast or bagel for breakfast, I try not to make a sandwich for lunch. Instead I may do something like quick pasta with a side of veggie (cucumbers, snack tomatoes or uncooked broccoli or carrots). Then dinner might be something much heavier like beef stew or chicken with baked sweet potato, broccoli or something of that nature. Here is a quick look of how I plan one day of menu.
Sample Weekly Menu Plan (small children included)
Breakfast – Healthy Homemade Muffins, Juice boxes
Note: We usually have quick breakfasts on Sundays since we go to church early. It’s mainly for the kids. I typically can’t focus on eating while trying to get everyone ready. On occasion, if muffins are on the menu, I try to grab one on the way out but typically not. Also, the muffins are usually baked during the week or on Saturday. If they are baked during the week, I freeze some and reheat them when needed.
Lunch – Grilled Chicken Salad
Dinner – Beef Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Glazed Carrots, Rolls
Breakfast – Oatmeal bowls, Hard Boiled Eggs
Lunch – Nut-Butter Sandwich, Apple sauce or Fruit Kabobs (kids love it)
Dinner – Mediterranean or BBQ Chicken (enough for two meals), White Rice, Side of Herb Green Peas
Breakfast – Bagels, Fruit
Lunch – Mini Mac-‘n’ Cheese cups, Snack carrots sticks
Dinner – Chili (enough for two meals save one in the freezer), Left Over Rice from Monday, Chips
Breakfast – Yogurt Parfait (Toppings of fruit, granola, chia seeds)
Lunch – Baked Sweet Potato
Dinner – Left Over Chicken from Monday, Corn on the cob, Salad
Breakfast – Fresh or Frozen Homemade Muffins, Side Fruit
Lunch – Vegetable Roll-ups, Yogurt Pouches
Dinner – Pasta, Meatballs
Breakfast – Fruit and Yogurt Smoothie Blend, (Add a side of wheat toast to make breakfast a little more filling)
Lunch – Nibble Tray (Mix of veggies, crackers, raisins or cranberries, etc.)
Dinner – Dinner with Friends
Breakfast – Pancakes (or waffles, french toast, etc.), Side of bacon baked in the oven, fruit (Something that your family loves but it takes too long to make on a week-day morning). Let’s call it “The Saturday Special”.
Lunch – Wings, Finger Foods (Usually Questionable)
Dinner – Freezer Chili from Tuesday
Snacks: Daily snacks could be a mix of nuts, grains, vegetables, fruits such as Granola bars, broccoli, grapes, and nuts (for parents), etc.
Free Meal Planning Printable
So what are you waiting for? Now you have 10 Reasons Why You Should Start Meal Planning and some examples of how to get started today. Get started now by downloading the free meal planning printable here. You can print as many as you like to plan your meals.
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I hope you found this post very help in making the step forward to meal planning and helping your family eat more home-cooked meals. If you are already a meal planner, what benefit(s) does it bring to your family? How often do you meal prep?
She looketh well to the ways of her household and eatheth not the bread of idleness (Proverbs 31:27).