This post was written by Haley Hall.
As eaters, we are all meal planners. It’s just a matter of whether we plan a week before, a day before or moments before we eat. We probably all have at least one recent experience of finding ourselves in a pickle (or drive-through) because our plan fell through. Waiting until the last minute to decide what to eat can lead to poor food choices, unnecessary stress and over-spending on food. We’d like to present another option: strategic meal planning. We know, it’s not mind blowing and you’ve already come up with a few reasons why it wont work well for you: you don’t have enough time or you’ve tried it and it stressed you out. We’re here to break down those barriers because we truly think that meal planning saves time, saves money and makes healthy eating easier.
First of all, meal planning saves time. Yes it takes time, but more often than not you will find that you spend less time acquiring food if you have a plan. The reality is, we all spend time acquiring food every day. If 12pm rolls around and you haven’t thought about what you’re going to eat before your stomach growls, you have to spend time deciding what to eat, making or going to get that food, and eating it. If you aren’t starting from scratch at 12pm, you don’t have to decide, make or acquire; you just have to eat! Meal planning can be a quick and efficient process. After some practice, it can be done in 30 minutes per week, maybe less. This is a net gain in your time bank.
Effective meal plans also save money. When we don’t have a plan, we are more likely to make impulse purchases, whether that be at the grocery store or at restaurants. When we have a plan, we purchase the food we are actually going to eat. Not only that, but if we use smart strategies, like keeping an inventory of what we have on hand, we can save money and decrease food waste.
Let’s face it, deciding what to eat in the moment at the end of a workday sucks. It’s another decision you have to make after a day already spent “adulting”. We are likely to fall into one of two pits:
1) “Screw it, I’m too hungry.” Then you end up with something quick from a restaurant that is likely a larger portion than you would ever have at home.
2) “I’ll just make something quickly.” Quick food, without any forethought, often relies on packages and/or starch. Some of our favorites include frozen pizza, peanut butter and jelly, or a bowl of cereal.
Either way, the stress over our health and nutrition related goals sets in. Take away the guess work and last minute decisions by setting aside some time to plan each week. That way the decision is made for you when you’re tired and hungry.
The bottom line: meal planning takes a bit of time up front; however, it’s an investment of time that ultimately saves time, saves money and makes healthy eating easier.
Ready to get started meal planning? Lucky for you, in the month of April we are offering a meal planning challenge. We want to teach you how to be an effective meal planner. Join us!