There’s a lot of confusion about what meal planning is. Most people think meal planning is a plan for an elaborate dinner party. It can be but that’s not the meal planning I’m talking about. What I’m talking about when I say “meal planning” is a frame work or an agenda of what home cooked meals we’re going to have for the upcoming week. It only takes about 10 minutes to meal plan and involves a quick view of the week ahead and checking to see what staples I already have at home. With weekly meal planning, there’s an efficient plan of cooking for the week. Meal planning helps me save money, minimizes food waste, and ensures healthy, home cooked meals for the upcoming week.
Why meal plan?
- Creates an efficient plan – Limits trips to the grocery store and gives a plan for what we’re eating based on what evening activities we have going on during the week.
- Saves money – I buy what my family needs, incorporate sale items at the store, and facilitates using leftovers because I’m planning for them – it also gives me a night off from cooking.
- Minimizes food waste – Keeps food from spoiling and being tossed out. I plan to use leftovers – serving a roasted chicken one night means I can serve chicken salad the next and then make chicken broth the third night. I’m also utilizing what’s on hand – using what’s in my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer so that I’m not buying duplicate food items.
- Ensures healthy eating – After reviewing sale ads, I can buy fruits and vegetables that are on sale. These are also the same ones that are in season, too. By eating at home, we’re able to avoid unhealthy, processed foods. If we have a plan, we eat healthier at home – skipping fast food restaurants. Planning healthy meals means we’re eating a balanced diet because I’ve taken the time to plan our meals.
How to meal plan…
On Sunday, with a meal planning sheet and our calendar, I look at what evening activities we have for the upcoming week. This lets me know what nights we’re cooking and what nights we’ll be eating leftovers. Next, based on what sounds good to eat, I plan out what dinners we’ll be having for the week. I use the meal planning process to ensure a balanced diet and varied meals. Once my plan is written out and I know what’s needed, then I make a grocery list. Making a grocery list is so easy because I know what meals we’re going to eat and after checking the cupboards, I know what I already have.
Sometimes I get lazy and skip planning and I’m always sorry because when we have a plan, we eat healthier at home. Weekly meal planning saves our family money but it also saves me in trips to the grocery store both in resources and time. Whenever I can save money, resources, and time, for a 10 minute investment – I do it!
Here’s a video about meal planning that we filmed at our house.
Need a dinner menu or blank meal plan? Check the downloads page.
Are you a meal planner? What’s your method for reducing food waste and eating healthy meals?
Go Gingham related links:
Just say no to baby carrots!
Go Gingham food philosophy – yes, there is one
11 reasons to meal plan every week – save money, save time and reduce food waste
How our freezer gets used – what I keep in our freezer and how I utilize the space
Grocery shopping soon? Plastic grocery bag alternatives