While I would love to say that we’re on top of meal and menu planning… we’re not. This is an area that I want to focus on though because I think it would go a long way in terms of staying within our family budget.
We do occasionally plan out our meals for the week but I think it would be really helpful to plan long-term for the month.
It would also help when we go shopping and hopefully cut down on the number of trips that we make to the grocery store once we start meal planning and prepping.
5 Overall Benefits of Meal Planning
Planning your family meals will cut down on your trips to your favorite fast food restaurant and the amount of pizza you have delivered to your door. Food you prepare at home tends to be much healthier than hamburgers with fries, fried chicken or pizza.
When you plan your meals include some lean protein like chicken breast, as well as some salads and vegetables. Your entire family will benefit from the healthier meals.
How much time are you spending now running to the grocery store a few times a week?
Planning your meals out for a week at a time and then putting together a grocery list with everything you need to cook those meals will cut your trips to the store down to one a week. This alone will save you a few hours each week. Plus you won’t be standing in front of your fridge and pantry every night trying to come up with something you can fix with what you have at hand.
All that eating out and having food delivered can quickly add up. By preparing more meals at home you will save quite a few dollars each week.
In addition, you will save on your monthly grocery bill, since you will be making a list of everything you need for the week and won’t end up buying extras that just go to waste. I used to throw out food almost every week before I started meal planning.
You know the routine. It’s 6 pm, everyone in the family is starving and you have no idea what’s for dinner.
Trying to come up with something to cook from what you have in the kitchen while your kids are tired, hungry and screaming isn’t one of the most fun family activities. You will be much more relaxed about dinner, when you know exactly what you are going to cook ahead of time and known you have everything you need in the house.
Quality Time Together
Meal Planning also encourages everyone to gather around the dinner table each day.
Who could resist the delicious smells coming out of the kitchen? Dinnertime has always been a great time for families to gather and share news and experiences of the day. Parents and children can pay each other undivided attention.
Cook some dinner, set the table and don’t forget to turn off the TV. Make dinner a daily family tradition again.
Planning for a Week vs. a Month
If you’re a newbie to meal prepping, you may want to begin with a week’s worth of meals rather than a month’s worth. If you’re extremely intimidated by meal prep, you may even want to try a couple of days at a time.
The idea of meal prepping is to take the stress out of your life – not make you feel more overwhelmed. Also, storage may be a problem if you don’t have extra freezer, pantry or refrigerator space.
Until you become familiar with the shortcuts and other aspects of pre-planning meals, it’s best to stick with the smaller increments of time. One week’s worth of meal prep can help you get organized and motivate you into trying longer amounts of meal prep time.
Prepping for a week’s worth of meals for awhile helps you prepare to tackle meal prep for an entire month. You’ll be amazed at how much time and money you save and the healthy meals you’re constantly providing for your family for simply a week at a time.
Then, when you’re ready to prepare meals for an entire month, you’ll be more mentally prepared to know what’s involved. You’ll have a pretty good idea of how much time you’ll need to devote – and how many products you’ll need to complete the task.
Good planning is at the crux of preparing for a week or a month’s worth of meals.
It’s a formidable task, but very manageable if you’re used to the meal-prepping process. Decide how and where you’re going to store the meals you prepare ahead of time and make sure you have a comprehensive list of what you’re going to need.
Of course, you won’t be able to purchase some highly perishable foods such as fresh fruits and veggies too far ahead of time, but a quick stop at the store for those items is much better than taking hours of your time during the week running up and down all of the grocery aisles.
When you’re preparing for a month’s worth of meals, you can concentrate on types of meals you can freeze or keep for a longer amount of time than perishable foods. These types of meals – such as soups and stews – are easily frozen and served with fresh bread or other items you pick up at the last minute.
At least you have the main part of your meal ready to serve and you don’t have to depend on the drive through or an expensive restaurant to provide it for you. You don’t even have to fully cook your pre-planned meals.
For example, chicken breasts can be pre-marinated, then stored in the freezer until ready to use. Just don’t forget to take them out of the freezer ahead of the cooking process.
Should you do a week or a month’s worth of meal prep?
It’s up to you and your needs. Experiment with a few days, then a week and then decide if preparing a month ahead of time is best.
Meal planning and prepping can go a long way in terms of saving your sanity and reducing your stress. You also have more control over what goes in your food.
Do you meal plan? How far in advance do you plan?