If you are wondering why meal planning is important then you are in the right place. We are about to go over 15 reasons why meal planning is important and why it is key to achieving your goals.
First of all, what is meal planning? Meal planning is the act of planning your meals ahead so you know what you’re having for dinner every night. WHAT!! That’s too simple! It is simple, but it is one of the most difficult things for folks to get into the habit of. Almost like budgeting.
But that’s where experienced meal planners can help you and give you the exact steps they figured out to make meal planning into a habit. And when I say habit I mean almost like an addiction where you just have to meal plan or you get a little twitchy. OK, maybe not that bad but once you develop that habit to meal plan you don’t forget to do it.
Alright, let’s get into the reasons to meal plan.
1. Meal Planning Means You Save Money
I listed this one as number one because this is most likely one of the main reasons you are here and even questioning the importance of meal planning.
So, answer this for me. How much do you spend on food each week for you and your family? Is it enough to where you are living paycheck to paycheck or maybe even whipping out the ole credit card sometimes?
What are you spending your money on? Is it fast food? Is it groceries that only ruin in your fridge? Or, maybe you did play it a little smarter and bought meats that are currently in your freezer. You know, the same meats that you don’t lay out to thaw because you didn’t think about or plan for it.
Can you tell I’ve been there?
So, how does meal planning help with this?
Well, if you plan your meals then you will only buy what you need. So, instead of buying $150 worth of groceries with no rhyme or reason, and oh by the way, did you stop at McDs on your way home from the grocery store?
On top of this you decide to pickup fast food at least a couple times during the week (at the very least) for another $70 for your family of four. Maybe you are being good and not going to pick up fast food, instead, you go the grocery store to get a few things to put something together. Wonder how much more you will spend while you are there? So, that puts your food bill at $220 for the week.
If you buy what you need and stick to the plan you could get by with $150 of intentional groceries and many times even less than that. How’s that for saving money? What could you do with an extra $280 per month. Let’s get real here, probably more than that if you really think about what you truly spend on food currently.
Wanna know how else you save money? By only shopping one time a week…
2. You Are Only Going to the Grocery Store Once Each Week
Remember up there where I said you could be going to the grocery store more than once each week?
Well, how many times have you did that and dreading every minute? I don’t know about you but I just don’t like going to the grocery store so doing this once each week sounds like a winner to me!
What else happens when you go to the grocery store more than once each week? Well we already mentioned one up there and that is you spend more money. I don’t care if you have all good intentions on going in there and picking up those two little things you need I guarantee you will walk out with at least two more. Every time I walk in a store I think I should grab me one of those 20 oz bottles of diet Ale8. Every. Single. Time.
One of the reasons to meal plan and be intentional with your grocery shopping that you are going to love is that if you have small children then your grocery trip can be planned at a time when they are not with you. Glorious!!!! Well, unless you like toting around small creatures who want to grab at every exciting thing that catches their laser pointed little eyes.
3. Speaking of Once a Week Shopping… Meal Planning Means You Are Intentional
Have you ever wanted to do your grocery shopping online? It’s great!!! This is the only way I do it now.
Being intentional with your shopping makes it much easier and a more pleasant experience to shop online.
If you say, “Nah, not for me!” and continue to go to the store then let me ask you this…
How often have you wondered around the store aimlessly plucking some items from the shelves and throwing them in your buggy?
You have no idea why you even chose that item…
No clue. It just looked good in the moment. Kinda like the small little being we mentioned above who likes to just grab things.
If you meal plan then this means you will have a list. A list means you will KNOW what should be landing in your buggy. And if you wanted to get, like, super power with it then you will write your list so that it follows the layout of your grocery store.
So that means less stress
Do you know what means? Well, just take a look at the next reason to meal plan to find out.
4. That Means You Save Time
You save time in the store. You save time in your kitchen. You save time at work.
You just save time.
You save time in the store because you are not wondering around trying to come up with meals on the fly and forgetting a quarter of the stuff you needed.
You save time in your kitchen because you will already know what to fix instead of standing there in front of the fridge with your hands on your hips trying to figure it out.
You save time at work because you’re not sitting there trying to remember what you even have at home to cook with so you know what else you need to pickup at the grocery store on your way home.
Oh, and what does that lead us to as to why meal planning is important? Keep reading…
5. Meal Planning is Important Because You Will Already Have on Hand What You Need
If you play game right then you will have what you need on hand. Especially if you follow my guidance because I take you a little further than just meal planning.
With me you will also not forget those other items that are important like, oh, I don’t know, ummm maybe toilet paper. WHAT!! What does toilet paper have to do with meal planning.
Well, nothing silly. But, if you are writing out a grocery list with the intention of shopping one time a week. Should you also plan to get the other things you need? You’re welcome.
Having everything you need on hand and ready to conquer that nightly duty of cooking means there is one question you can always answer…
6. Always Know “What’s for Dinner”
How many times have you gotten that phone call or text from your kid…
Mom, what’s for dinner?
Ummmmm…. Yeah, let me think about that one…
Having a meal plan does not mean you will know that answer every time they text. But, do you know what it does mean?
It means you get to say…
Hhhmmm, not sure, but you can go look at the meal plan on the fridge.
Do you know what else it means? It means you don’t have to worry about it anymore during the day. Because even though you can’t remember what you’re having that night it’s still OK. It’s on the meal plan for you to go by when you home.
7. …So Does Everyone Else
After a while your family will get to where they just know to go to your place where you post your meal plan.
In the beginning you will still get the question but as time goes by you will notice that question comes less and less as they get into their own habits of checking the fridge or the communication board. Wherever it is that you post your meal plan.
But you gotta post it for this to happen.
8. Which leads us to… Meal Planning Means Less Stress
Can you imagine how good that would feel? To not even have to wonder what you’re fixing or if you have all the stuff you need to make it happen.
If you can’t imagine then let me tell you… IT IS WONDERFUL!!
How many times have you been so flipping tired after work and then have to go to the grocery store because you don’t know if you have the right ingredients to fix what you’ve managed to come up with while at work?
The feeling of being prepared is empowering. You feel confident in your abilities. You feel in control of your surroundings. You feel organized in your life.
Another one of the “less stress” reasons to meal plan is actually being able to see everything in your pantry, fridge, and freezer.
What?? That’s never happened before…
9. Ready to Have a Clean Pantry, Fridge, and Freezer?
You mean you can actually get to a point where you are not stacking food on top of food to be able to fit the next thing you shove into your fridge?
You see if you do this thing right then your pantry, fridge, and freezer will actually look a little bare. Now don’t get me wrong there will still be stragglers sitting around in there but with time you will start to automatically try to think of ways to get rid of those.
When you start out meal planning the first thing you will tackle is using up what you have already. As each week goes by you will use a little more until you get down to the absolute staples you want to keep on hand.
Getting to this point also means…
10. You Don’t Waste Food Because You Have a Plan to Eat What You Buy
How many times have you thrown that bag of celery in the trash because it wilted before you could use it? Or opened that container of sour cream to find a little gift of mold right on top? My favorite is opening the milk to take a big whiff of sourness. GAG!
With a meal plan you will use up those foods before they can ruin. Well, that is if you are intentional with your meal planning.
Let’s say you have celery left over then you will want to plan something to fix the next week to use up the celery or if you just don’t want meals with celery two weeks in a row then at least you know you can freeze what you have left for later.
Either way you have a plan and this keeps you from wasting food.
Speaking of celery the next reason to meal plan will happen naturally if you eat fast food all the time but even if you don’t then you could change your foods up just a little to…
11. Eat Healthier
We would eat fast food ALLL THE TIME so eating at home just made us start to feel better.
Even if you start out with eating convenience foods at home. It is still better than fast food.
Most of time though when we plan our meals there seems to be a little switch that clicks on and it causes us want to make better choices. Maybe it is that sense of confidence, control, and being organized that makes us to just want to do better.
Eating healthier, or even not, makes us aware of another reason to meal plan…
12. Having More of a Variety to CHOOSE From
If you eat fast food quite a bit then you will soon just get tired of eating the same ole thing over and over.
Same this as with aimlessly picking out stuff at the grocery store. You just get in the habit of pickup out the same stuff each time you go instead of really thing about the different stuff you can try.
If you are meal planning then you are actively searching for a variety of foods even if you cook the same type of foods you can still cook them in different flavors or even different cooking methods.
For instance, I fixed some chicken with pesto. The first time I cooked this I fixed it in the instant pot and the second time it was a one pot meal on the stove.
The two meals tasted completely different. Yes, there was a favorite. It was the Instant Pot recipe.
Having a variety to choose from also leads us into another pretty cool meal planning trick…
13. You Get to Try New Recipes When you Meal Plan
One of my favorite things to do that I never did before was try out new recipes.
I didn’t do this before because I was so stinkin’ overwhelmed just from figuring out what to fix there was no way I would try to learn to cook new things.
But now that I meal plan I will try out a new recipe at least once every two weeks. Sometimes these recipes are really similar like the Chicken Pesto I mentioned above and sometimes they are completely different.
When you cook at home you start to feel like you are cooking the same ole thing over and over. Meal planning gives us the time and brain power to actually want to add new meals into the mix. The longer you meal plan the easier this will all become and then you will have made meal planning into a habit.
Once meal planning becomes a habit then you will be able to venture into the cool stuff like…
14. Meal Prep to Save Even More Time and Money
Have you ever seen those folks who prep their stuff ahead of time and just seem to have it all together?
Well, they have it all together. All they have to do is pull out a baggie of food from the freezer and plop it into an Instant Pot or Slow Cooker.
Or pull out a bowl of already cut up veggies.
Once meal planning becomes a habit for you then you get to become one of these super heroes. I wouldn’t try to tackle this until you are consistently planning your meals though because it could get overwhelming for you.
But once you do get to this point then the sky’s the limit on what you can do to save your time and money. And there are just so many options.
Like you can be one of those Sunday cooker folks who spend an hour and have ten meals in the freezer (this is who I want to be but never will). Or you can just chop up all your veggies in the beginning of the week. Or you chop your veggies for the rest of the week as you chop to cook (this is me). Or you can simply be the one who will double your meals when you cook so that you eat one meal and freeze the other (this is also me).
You just never know what creative ways you can come up with to meal prep to save yourself time for doing other things you prefer to do.
When you start to meal prep then that means you also thinking about bulk buying. What’s so great about that? Well, that means you could save money on foods like your meat. Many times when you buy meats in a larger package you will pay less per unit.
There is another way that meal planning can save you money…
15. You Get to Take Advantage of Sales and Coupons When You Meal Plan
This is another one of those things you should wait until meal planning becomes a habit before you go into this full force. If you do decide to take this on earlier in your journey then I would suggest you just focus on the meats that are on sale or using a simple cash back app like ibotta.
You don’t want something that will overwhelm you and trying to look through the sales paper and figure out what can be the best options for you is a sure way to do that.
So, if you absolutely want to tackle this early on then just look at the front page and the back page of the sales paper. Everything else is just filler.
But eventually if you really wanted to you could get the sales papers from different stores in your areas and match those up with the coupons you have and go all Rambo on those food costs. I personally don’t do this so I wouldn’t be the best person to listen to in this area but I’m sure there are some real ninja’s out there that can teach you to do this if you really wanted to. That is after you get the hang of just meal planning.
Next, we will talk about who you are…
Stick with me here. We gotta get through a couple of boring but important steps before we get into actual meal planning.
Action Steps to Complete Before You Continue
1. Write down the top three reasons why meal planning is important that are most important to you
2. Next to those top three write down why they are the most important to you.
Feel free to share your top three in the comments below.
Want the PDF Version?
The Simple Meal Planning Mini Course has been turned into a free PDF you can download to your computer and even print if you want. This PDF also includes space to complete your assignments and take notes.
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