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You’re exhausted from working late so you stop for takeout on your way home. One night turns into two and you start ordering from Uber Eats. Before you know it the driver has become an honorary family member and you can’t remember the last time you actually cooked a meal. No worries, it happens to most of us. You just need an easy meal planning system that fits into your busy lifestyle.
Easy Meal Planning
You think meal planning isn’t for you because you aren’t the ‘spend an entire weekend in the kitchen’ type of girl.
That’s what I thought too. Any time I heard the term ‘meal planning’, I pictured the extreme ‘once a month’ batch cooking. You know where it takes an entire day to plan and shop, then another full day to prepare, package, store, and clean up.
You know what I’m talking about. The before picture of a woman standing in her kitchen surrounded by grocery filled countertops. A big bright smile on her face.
The after picture of her with stacks of pre-made meals ready for the freezer. A noticeably smaller but obviously forced smile on her face.
Besides the change in her smile, do you know what else I can’t help but notice? That ginormous stack of dishes behind her that she’s trying to forget about. And bag after bag of garbage sitting in front of the cabinets.
After all of that work, she still has a huge mess to clean up. All I can think about is that mess!
The Bigger Picture
I know there’s a bigger picture here. After those two days, she is done with all of the major messes and preparation for an entire month. I get it, but I just can’t wrap my head around spending two full days of every month in what I would classify as ‘food prep and cooking jail’. Can you?
Don’t get me wrong, I think once a month batch cooking is a great way to meal plan – for somebody else. Somebody who can spare that full two days to get it all done. Somebody who has the patience for all that prepping and cooking, then the dreaded clean up.
But that’s just not me. There are a million other things I need to do on my days off when I actually get them, and I bet you’re the same way too.
So What Now?
Since I knew extreme batch cooking wouldn’t work for me, I started looking into and testing alternative types of meal planning. I knew there had to be a simple way to get home-cooked meals on the table on a regular basis and in a timely manner.
I played around with several different types and methods of meal planning. During all of that trial and error, I realized that an easy meal planning system could really change my life in many ways.
How Easy Meal Planning Can Change Your Life
Like any new skill, learning effective meal planning will take some time in the beginning. Once you figure out your system and settle into a routine, the entire process will get quicker and easier.
Having a structured meal plan will help you reduce stress, eat healthier, and save both time and money.
One of the most beneficial ways meal planning can change your life is reducing stress. Who couldn’t benefit from a little less stress in their life?
Planning all of your meals for the week and having the groceries on hand eliminates the decision-making process that usually ends in frustration.
Gone are the days of wasting time standing in front of the refrigerator or pantry trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Also gone are the days of knowing exactly what you want only to realize you don’t have half of the ingredients.
You won’t have to hear that annoying, pressure-filled ‘what’s for dinner?’ question or play the resulting ‘I don’t know, what do you want?’ game.
No more driving home from work stressing about what you’re going to fix for dinner and no more constant trips to the store to get missing ingredients.
Your weekly menu is planned and the ingredients are sitting in the kitchen waiting for you to work your magic.
Eating healthier is another way meal planning can change your life.
The first thing most people do when they’re tired or hungry is head straight to a restaurant, fast food establishment or the grocery store convenience section.
While quick and convenient, these typically aren’t very healthy options. They’re often deep-fried and loaded with sodium or cooked with extra fats and sugars.
When you prepare meals at home, you’re in control of what ingredients go into each dish. You’re also more likely to use fresher ingredients which are often much tastier and loaded with all kinds of natural goodness.
Want to take it a step further? Once you’re used to meal planning on a regular basis, you can start focusing on even healthier recipes.
Easy meal planning will help you be less wasteful. The ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ style of cooking often leads to a lot of forgotten and spoiled food.
Remember those chicken breasts you took out Wednesday for Chicken Marsala? They’re still sitting in the refrigerator behind the leftover Teriyaki take out your husband picked up Tuesday night. It’s now 3 days later and you don’t have time to do anything with the chicken.
Maybe it’s not the chicken, maybe it’s the leftover pot roast that you were going to use for French Dips that nobody wanted to eat for the third night in a row.
Whatever the reason, the lack of planning and preparation usually ends with food getting thrown out.
Unless you have farm animals that can eat it as supplemental feed, you’re just wasting food.
Along with wasted food, comes wasted money. Having a specific meal plan ensures you’ll use the groceries you purchased and save money by not throwing anything out.
Speaking of the grocery store, there are tons of opportunities to save money at the grocery store. They range from shopping sales to buying in bulk.
Another money-saving benefit is no longer paying restaurant prices because you’re actually eating at home.
Have you paid attention to the price you pay for breakfast at a restaurant? Breakfast for two can cost around $30.00.
For that same $30.00, you could buy a bag of potatoes, two dozen eggs, a pound of bacon, a pound of sausage, and a loaf of bread. Six days of breakfast for two people for the price you just paid for one day.
These are just a few of the ways you will save money.
Time seems to be the one thing we all long for but never really find. Easy meal planning can help change that.
You can save time by making the weekly meal decisions once instead of dealing with it every day. When I first started meal planning, it took me a little over an hour to gather my recipes, figure out the menu, and create the shopping list. Now I can do it in 10 minutes or less.
Bonus Tip: Save your weekly meal plans and reuse them instead of recreating them every week.
Another time-saver is having that complete grocery list. You get everything in one trip to the store instead of stopping every night to pick up forgotten items. You can also save time by organizing your shopping list according to the layout of your favorite store.
It’s just so much easier and more efficient to already have everything planned.
Easy Meal Planning For Beginners
It’s true, meal planning can truly change your life, and I promise you it’s easy. Now that you’ve seen some of the benefits, what’s stopping you?
Don’t know where to begin? Check out Meal Planning for Beginners.