I started meal planning a few months ago, and to be completely honest, it’s changed my life! If you’re not familiar, it’s pretty simple: one day a week (I like to do it on Sundays), you do a grocery shop and cook all of your meals for the week. But, it’s a big more strategic than that. Since you’re making all of your meals at once, you’re typically only making a handful of recipes. For example I usually make one breakfast option, one or two lunch options, and one or two dinner options. You choose the recipes ahead of time, purchase only the groceries you need, make your meals, and box them up in the fridge for use throughout the week. Sounds good, right? Keep reading for five reasons why you should do it, too!
Reason one: It’s an easy way to eat healthy. Making your own food at home from scratch is typically much healthier than eating at restaurants all the time. You know exactly what is going into your food and there are no additions like sauces which can sneakily up the caloric content of your meals. If you’re on a diet, meal planning makes it much easier to stick to because the chances of going out and grabbing some fast food or junk food when you already have a cooked meal ready and waiting are that much lower.
Reason two: It saves money. One of my resolutions this new year was to save more money, and cooking at home was one of the main ways to do that. It’s so much more cost-effective than buying your meals one at a time. On average I was spending $10-$15 on lunch alone per day, which amounts to $50-$75 each work week. Since I started meal planning I’ve been spending around $50-$100 on groceries per week for all meals, including on the weekend, so it works out to be much less expensive in comparison. Also, because you’re basing your groceries on what you’re making for the week, you should be buying only things that you will be using for your recipes, which saves you from overbuying at the store and cuts down on wasted food.
Reason 3: It saves time. It might not seem like when at first you are spending five hours on your Sunday afternoon cooking a mountain of food for the week, but trust me, it gets better! You will become more efficient at making your meals to the point where it only takes maybe a few hours one day a week, and very minimal time after that (if any at all). Then, you’re not taking any time out of your evening after work (or whatever your schedule is) to make food every day, which adds up to more time over the week than if you did it all at once. I found it gave me so much more time in the day after work to come home and do something productive like work out, or even just relax and not have to worry about cooking dinner.
Reason 4: You get better at cooking. Unless you’re already good, and just don’t plan your meals (fair enough). For me, I’ve never been much of a cook – I’m okay at following recipes, but have a hard time just whipping up something that tastes good from the random ingredients in my fridge and cupboard. Because meal planning means I’m cooking at home more, I’m getting a lot more practice in the kitchen and have definitely improved my cooking skill overall. My food tastes way better than it used to and I have a better sense of how to combine ingredients and flavours to make something delicious instead of just good.
Reason 5: It’s fun! Now that I have been doing it for a few months and sort of have my strategy down, I am really enjoying trying new recipes and learning to cook new things. It’s becoming a regular hobby for me to the point where I actually get excited about Sundays when I get to research new recipes and cook all of my meals for the week!
At the end of the day, meal planning might not be for everyone (I love my takeout sometimes too!) But, I hope that if you don’t already do it, this might inspire you to at least give it a shot. Let me know in the comments below how meal planning works for you!