7 Reasons Why You Need to Meal Plan!
According to this article, “Americans eat fewer than 70 percent of their meals at home”.
I admit to nights of cooking Mac N’ Cheese (even tho it was Annie’s Organic brand) when I realized it was 4 or 5 pm and I had no idea what I was going to put on the table for dinner. Now we honestly haven’t had Mac N’ Cheese for years (mostly because I realize there is no healthy version)! Or going out to eat last minute because I couldn’t pull something together fast enough, and then feeling guilty because I didn’t feed my family a healthy dinner.
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Now you may be asking yourself, what’s the big deal with meal planning? Or how hard could it be to figure out whats for breakfast/lunch/dinner?
OR…you’re like me…you’re busy all the time and struggle with being prepared for meals in advance.
If that sounds like you, here are 7 HUGE benefits to meal planning:
1. Save Money -
You’ll have a list of only the items that you NEED to buy which helps you avoid buying unnecessary things at the store. Buying only what you need means that you’ll avoid impulse buys which cost you more money and are usually unhealthy choices.
You’ll be prepared in advance for EVERY meal which will help you avoid going out to eat. That could easily be a savings of $40-50 for one meal for the family!
I used to frequently throw out veggies and/or fruit that had gone bad because I hadn’t worked them into any meal or prepped them. According to a study done by the University of Arizona, some households throw away about $600 a year by having to throw out food that’s gone bad before being used.
2. Eat Healthy -
When your meals are planned in advance and you have the items to make the meals in your pantry, you’re less likely to go thru a drive thru or a restaurant last minute. When 4 pm rolls around, you’ll already know what’s for dinner! Chop vegetables as soon as you get home from the store.
You’ll also develop a specific grocery list, which will help you avoid the bad choice/impulse buys at the store.
Even when you think you’re eating healthier options at a restaurant, you’re probably not eating healthy at all. Let’s say you choose a salad at a restaurant. The vegetables usually aren’t organic, so you’re ingesting 50-70 extra chemicals (ie pesticide, herbicide, GMO’s, etc). The salads are usually drowning in salad dressing which can be full of artificial flavor and color and oils that are really bad for you (read more about oils here).
3. Waste less -
Buy only what you need of items that go bad quickly (ie veggies and fruit). When you go to the store armed with your list, you will be less likely to buy things that aren’t on that list. You already know that if you stick to your plan, you’ll use all of the items that you bought. You waste less food and less money!
4. Less Stress -
It’s 4pm…whats for dinner?! Or it’s 6:45am, you’re running late-what’s for breakfast and lunch?! Does this sound familiar? It was familiar for me! It can be stressful, especially if you have kids that need breakfast before school and lunch while at school. With meal planning, your worries are over! Not only do you already know what you’ll be having for breakfast, lunch and dinner…you already have the food in your house to make it and you might even have it prepared in advance!
5. Save Time -
With meal planning you’ll avoid multiple last minute trips to the store. There have been countless times where either myself or my husband have had to run to the grocery store to buy one or two items because we came up with a meal last minute or we didn’t plan ahead and buy everything we needed during one of our regular grocery store trips. It’s a waste of time and sometimes money because we’re using more gas in our car to do more errands, not to mention how frustrating it is.
Make enough for two to three meals! This will end up saving you time because you can cook a large amount ONE time instead of smaller amounts at THREE different times.
6. Lose Weight -
When you eat healthier and decrease how much you eat out - you’ll start to lose weight. My mom has recently started to make more home cooked meals and is making ‘healthier’ choices (she doesn’t really have a choice with me nagging at her about being healthy). She estimates her savings at approximately $500 a month and she’s lost about 12 pounds!
7. Bring family together!
Involve the family in your meal planning and prepping. Ask the family what some of their favorite meals are and put them in the plan, Have kids help with mixing, measuring, or setting the table. Explain that you’ll be eating at home more and eating healthier choices. Also, family meals are a time to relax and really talk to each other without interruption
You’ll notice that each of the 7 benefits of meal planning kind of tie into each other. Waste less> Save Money. Eat Healthy > Lose Weight. Save time and money > Less stress.