You’re busy, busy, busy and the thought of having to plan out meals may feel like just one more chore to add to your already long list of things to do.
I know! And to be honest, it has not always been my all-time favorite thing to do either.
What I found out from taking the time to plan for meals each week and making an accompanying grocery list is the following:
- I saved TIME
- I saved MONEY
- I had less STRESS
- And I ate fewer less-desirable CALORIES!
Menu planning saves time because you know “what’s for dinner” and you won’t have to run to the grocery store as often.
It saves money because going out to eat is so much more expensive than preparing meals at home.
It also means less food waste because you’ve only bought the items you need to prepare your meals.
You can save in calories too, because many times we impulse buy and end up choosing convenience or processed foods. Or, if you go out to eat, you order items that look healthy, like a salad, only to discover that your meal contains 1,000 or more calories.
Finally, planning meals reduces stress because you have a solid plan for your week and you won’t have to rack your brain at the last minute to figure out the age old question “what’s for dinner?”
Choosing ingredients from the grocery store gives you more control over the quality. More and more supermarkets are offering more organic options and a wide variety of foods and brands from which to choose.
When we eat out, the food usually contains higher sodium levels than what we make at home. And prepared food from a restaurant uses lower quality oils like soybean, GMO foods are used as the norm, and MSG is often added or hidden, along with other not so great ingredients.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy eating out, but when you select and prepare your own food knowing exactly what is included in the dishes you make, you’re able to better control the quality and nutritional value of your meals.
This is a huge help with weight loss and weight maintenance since YOU ARE IN CONTROL of the food you eat and you know what’s in it! Plus, you’re likely to eat more foods that are higher in nutrients.
Pick a day to do your menu-planning. For me, it is either a Saturday or Sunday, but choose the day that works best for you. Will this be the same day you do the grocery shopping? Or will you plan the night before and shop the next morning? A good idea to get input from your family and find out what their schedules are and then plan accordingly!
How do you like to plan your meals?
What works for you? Do you prefer to look through cookbooks, existing recipe cards, or find recipes online or maybe a combination of all three? Does your family have a favorite meal that they like to have each week?
Start with what you know so you don’t feel overwhelmed. If you already have a recipe box with a lot of recipes, start there. Find 5 or 6 you want to make for the week and go with that.
And, if you are really new to menu planning, maybe planning out only 3 days will be a better way to start.
After you’ve figured out your meals for the week, it’s time to create your grocery list. Be sure to check your fridge and pantry first to see what you already have and then make the list of what you need.
Then write out the menu plan for the week and post it on your fridge!
Save your weekly meals. They can be alternated once you have a few of them created. Now it is even easier!
If you have any tips or tricks to share, let us know in the comments below!
Here’s to menu planning,
Certified Holistic Nutrition Coach
Certified Workplace Wellness Consultant
https://www.facebook.com/groups/anitasagingwithvitality/ (45 and over)