Tuesday 23 May 2017

8 Reasons Why You Should Be Meal Planning

8 Reasons Why You Should Be Meal Planning 

I only started meal planning when my husband had a hip operation. He was our chef and did all the shopping so I had no idea what to buy or cook. I was very stressed about it all as I do not drive so couldn't just pop out for something I needed for a recipe. I needed to know exactly what to buy and what to cook. It was the best thing I have done. No more wasted food, no more stress over what to eat.

In the days of old, meal planning was only for big occasions. Weddings, dinner parties and such like. For everyday meals people, mainly wives and mothers, would have an idea of what their family liked but what they bought and cooked was ruled by the seasons. Lamb in spring, greens in winter. Chips in winter and boiled potatoes with mint when the new potatoes were in season. They cooked what was on offer, and food in season was fresher and cheaper.

They didn't have the luxury of fridges and freezers and so would shop often, everyday if necessary, and just buy enough for that days meals. A piece of meat, whatever vegetables were on sale. Many grew their own vegetables in their garden and so for weeks it would be runner beans with everything, or peas, or tomatoes. Nowadays most food is available throughout the year, it doesn't seem to get cheaper when it is in season, or fresher. Vegetables come packed in bags of a pre-determined amount and many people shop once a week.

Why should you be meal planning? I have heard people say it is a bad idea, that it takes too much time or that on the day you may not fancy what you have planned.

This is not true. I thought the same but meal planning saves time and is versatile too.

What is meal planning?

Before I explain why you should be meal planning, what exactly is it? It is very easy. Just write down the meals that you love and specify what day of the week you will be eating them. My meal plan goes from Saturday to Friday, only because I started my first meal plan on a Friday evening and it's the perfect time for me to plan. I have been doing my weekly shop on a Sunday with a top up on a Thursday. If this changes then I will change my plan too.

I find writing it on the computer and printing it out the simplest, it is easy to cut and paste and all the meals are there to give me inspiration.


8 Reasons Why You Should Be Meal Planning 

1. Meal Planning saves time

It really does save time, my first meal plan took about thirty minutes to plan. The next week it took fifteen and this week, less than ten. That is two meals a day, both lunches and suppers (we are retired so spend our days at home and cook each lunchtime), and early suppers for our grandson who we have for four days. That's eighteen meals, planned in less than ten minutes. I am sure it used to the that long for each meal as we stood in the kitchen looking in the fridge for inspiration.

2. Meal Planning is versatile

Meal planning doesn't mean you have to eat a certain meal on a certain day. We plan our meals but can always change them to suit what we are doing. For example, if we plan to have roast chicken dinner on Monday lunchtime (Bear loves a roast dinner!) and ham and chips on Tuesday, then on Monday the sun is shining and we don't want a roast dinner we can make ham sandwiches instead and head to the beach. The next day we can have the roast chicken dinner, or roast the chicken and have it with chips. Nothing is wasted and the plan works for us and is not a constraint.

These are my last two weeks meal plans, with my alterations. 

3. Meal Planning reduces food waste

Once the meals are planned then a shopping list can be written of just the things that are needed. When shopping if there is something on offer or that is too good to resist, it can be substituted for something planned. This week on my plan was broccoli but asparagus is in the shops, I just bought the asparagus instead.
Some vegetables are too much for two people. We would never eat a whole cauliflower between us, and certainly do not want it for every meal until it's gone. So we will have roasted vegetables one day (and roast some of the cauliflower) and cauliflower cheese another.

4. Meal Planning saves money

Meal planning saves money especially if combined with a freezer. Meat can be bought when it is on offer and put straight into the freezer, then meals planned to utilise it. This way expensive items are used before they go out of date.

Only buying what is needed and on the shopping list cuts down waste and therefore saves money. Many times we have bought lots of something, salad leaves for example, but cooked nothing to eat with them. We've had roast dinners and curries or stews. So into the compost goes another expensive bag of leaves that were not even opened.

5. Meal Planning reduces stress

Meal Planning reduces stress. Standing in the kitchen trying to decide what to cook or standing in the supermarket with no idea what to buy. Meal planning takes all this away. It is not always the main ingredient either, so you have cod for tea. What are you going to have with it? Chips? New potatoes? Rice? What vegetables? How are you going to cook the cod?

On my planner is written cod with bacon and tomatoes (delicious) with cauliflower cheese and chips. Problem solved.

If you have a fussy eater and have run out of ideas involve them in planning the meals. With children it is good to have a "your choice" day. This allows them to decide what they would like one day each week. By planning in advance then their choice of pizza or hot dogs can be made a little healthier by combining it with a fruit salad dessert or a fruit smoothy.

6. Meal Planning allows creativity

If you love to cook but never have time, or never have everything you need for that brilliant recipe, just put the meal on the planner and add the ingredients to your shopping list. There are so many times when I would love to have a certain meal but the main ingredient is still frozen, or I need one ingredient that isn't in my store cupboard. With meals already planned then I know I have all the ingredients and that I have defrosted the correct food. Some of my favourite meals require marinating overnight, which I only think of the next day so they only get a short time in the marinade. A note on the planner is an easy reminder.

If you like to make up your own combinations when cooking stir fries or stews, then on the planner just put chicken stir fry or beef stew. Check the cupboards and add to the shopping list the items you always use and need to buy. Noodles, mushrooms, garlic, ginger and so on, then you can just throw it all together and still have the meal you planned.

7. Meal Planning reduces monotony 

Do you ever think, oh not potatoes again? Or you find a new recipe that you all love, have it really often then get fed up with it so don't have it again? With meal planning you can see on one sheet of paper all your meals. If you plan it on the computer then a quick cut and paste can make your meals more varied. Chips for lunch, then have rice for tea. Once you have a months plan, or more, then just cut and paste your favourite meals to plan another week.

8. Meal Planning helps with weight loss and healthy eating

One of the most common causes of breaking a diet is being hungry and just grabbing food. That's usually something that isn't on the diet plan such as snacks or a ready meal. With meal planning then the risk of being hungry and eating the wrong foods is really reduced.

If you are trying to have a healthy diet then seeing on paper exactly what you plan to eat is a reminder to add more vegetable or fruit. It also helps in reducing last minute take aways and ready meals.

These are all the reasons why I write a meal plan each week. I hope it has inspired you to try it too. 




  1. I meal plan. I have for a few years now and I can't not meal plan now.
    If I don't meal plan we resort to takeaways, waste so much food and eat a lot of rubbish. x

    1. That's it exactly. We resort to ready meals or quick meals, I love meal planning.


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