Meal Planning and Why it’s a Great Idea …..

Meal Planning 001“What’s for dinner Mum?”  Those four words used to send me into an absolute panic because most days I didn’t have a clue!  I often used to think about that night’s dinner when I arrived at the supermarket and then I’d race up and down the aisles throwing things in the trolley in the hope I didn’t forget something and trying desperately to remember the ingredients for a particular recipe. Not very organised, was I?

For the last couple of years, I’ve worked very hard to change that and one of the best things I now do each week is prepare a Meal Plan, and if that sounds intimidating or complicated, it’s really not.  It’s as simple as sitting down for 10 – 15 minutes, once a week and planning what you will cook for the week ahead.  Do your plan during the ads when your watching your favourite TV show or write it up in the carpark while your waiting for the kids to come out of school … anywhere that you can grab a small amount of time.  And to make that little job even easier, I’ve created a free Meal Plan for you to download and use as often as you like.

 

You can use this in one of two ways.  You can download the Meal Planner, laminate it, use a whiteboard marker, clean it off at the end of each week and reuse it.  Or, you can do what I do and that’s print a new one each week, then at the end of the week, I file it away in a folder and recycle the same menu in a couple of week’s time.  I also like to display my Menu Planner in the same spot (on a noticeboard inside the pantry) so that everyone knows where it is and can check it without asking me all the time “What’s for dinner, Mum?”

So, what are the main benefits of Meal Planning:

  • Saves your sanity.  It will help you to be more organised because there will be no more frantic, last minute trips to the supermarket and no more 5.00 pm panic attacks.  All of that equals less stress, more convenience and a happier you.
  • Saves you time.  Because you know in advance what is for dinner, you will be able to do some preparation through the day so that you don’t spend ages in the kitchen around dinnertime.  This will also leave you free to help kids with bath time and homework.
  • Saves you money.  You can take advantage of weekly specials at the supermarket, it will prevent you from buying items that you don’t really need and it will help reduce your “impulse” spending at the supermarket.  Once you have created your Meal Plan, it is easier to prepare your shopping list and then stick to it at the supermarket.  Meal Planning also helps you to shop within your budget and not overspend.
  • Reduces waste.  You will use up what’s in the fridge and pantry because you will incorporate those items in your meals.
  • Encourages good eating.  It allows you to plan a variety of meals so that your family has a balanced, nutritious diet.
  • Say goodbye to expensive takeaways.  If you’re more organised you will be less inclined to grab a takeaway because you’re too tired, unmotivated or running late.
  • Saves petrol.  Meal Planning can also mean fewer trips to the supermarket as you can buy everything you need for the week in a single large shop and then just top up fresh fruit, vegies and milk as needed.
  • Helps you plan ahead.  Tonight’s bolognaise sauce with pasta, can be used the following night with a baked potato, salad and sour cream.  If you cook a big enough batch, you can also freeze one or more extra serves to use at a later date.  It also allows you to take into account those nights when you have commitments like after school activities or appointments that find you arriving home late.  By planning ahead you can prepare a slow cooker meal, defrost a pre-cooked meal or sauce from the freezer or prepare a single dish bake like lasagna or Shepherds Pie.  It’s then much easier to add some vegies, rice or pasta as the majority of the work will be done.

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing some of my top tips for meal planning so make sure you pop back to read those.  So tell me, can you think of any other advantages to meal planning and do you think you’d be willing to give it a go?

Comments

  1. Thank you! Just the colourful, beautiful inspiration I need for my meal planning resolution! Sharing on http://www.facebook.com/preschoolmummy

    B

    • Thanks for sharing Bron, hopefully these will help some of your lovely readers get a little better organised and free up more time to spend with their littlies!

  2. I try to meal plan. Usually when I make any kind of plan life goes in the opposite direction!! Love the printable wish I had a printer!!

    • Thanks for visiting the blog, Ann … nice to meet you! Keep the Meal Planner in mind for when you have access to a printer and please feel free to share it with your family and friends!

  3. We cook to a menu every week, definitely saves on money, time and sanity.

    • It’s great to for those afternoons when you have appointments or after school activities because you can plan ahead!

  4. I can definitely see the value in planning ahead for meals. I don’t know why I don’t do it more often because life is definitely easier when I do :)

    • I find life is a lot easier when I Meal Plan and it’s surprising how little time it actually takes. Like a lot of other things, it’s just a matter of getting into a routine and then following through … and it’s a great new habit to develop.

  5. Cute printable. I love all of those benefits of meal planning. I am much better at it than I used to be. :) Cute blog!

    • Thanks Kaz, glad you like it! Meal Planning is like a lot of other things: routine, practice and consistency … good luck!

  6. Yes yes yes it does save all those things and stops kids from nagging!

  7. Such a great idea! This will be especially useful for me because I prefer to buy meat in bulk and portion everything up to throw in the freezer! Now I can do a pretty meal plan. Thanks!

  8. Everything you say about the benefits is true. I’m such a “pantser”- working out what’s for dinner with no planning ahead… it’s not ideal! But until such time as my kids branch out their tastes a bit, there doesn’t seem an enormous advantage just yet. We just recycle the same few old regulars. #teamIBOT

  9. A fantastic idea!! Thank you so much for the download – I am hoping it will save my sanity and pennies :) x

  10. I plan my meals every week, just so that I can go shopping successfully.
    Although my plans look like hastily scribbled notes on a piece of paper…

    • That’s great to hear. I don’t really think it matters what you do to create your plan, as long as you do it! Helps you get organised and save … and we all know that equates to less stress!

  11. Excellent reasons for meal planning Sandie. As a nutritionist, I know all of these reasons really well, yet I rarely meal plan for myself. Admittedly I don’t have kids and normally am cooking only for myself, so I’m sure things would need to be different if I was cooking for others too. I am a big fan of frozen leftovers though, so that way when I can’t be bothered cooking, I still have my own quick healthy meal ready to go in a flash.

    • I’m the greatest fan of cooking more than one serve and using my freezer … it’s so reassuring knowing that there are some healthy meals already cooked in the freezer, particularly if I have a day when everything doesn’t go as planned! Thanks for stopping by the blog and taking the time to comment!

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