Meal plans are essential to eliminating stress, saving money, and eating more healthfully. Fitness experts, financial experts, and life planners all recommend creating a meal plan and sticking to it. How many times has your husband or children asked, “What’s for dinner?” and it triggers a slight bit of anxiety as you try to figure out what you can quickly make with what you have left in your cabinets? I know it’s happened to me more times than I care to admit. I used to be diligent about creating a meal plan and sticking to it, but life got busy and I started neglecting to create them. This made my life even more chaotic. Recently I realized that I needed to get control of our meals and finances again and I knew the first step was to create a meal plan. I’m going about it a little differently this time; instead of creating a two-week meal plan I’ve chosen to do a monthly meal plan.
- Save Money
Do you ever find yourself running to the grocery store multiple times a week because you need one or two items in order to complete dinner? Or do you swing by a drive-thru because you don’t know what to make or you’ve run out of time to stop at the store and then have to go home and cook? With a meal plan in place you know exactly what to buy to get you through until your next grocery store trip and you will have those items at your disposal when it comes time to cook dinner, thus eliminating the need for multiple grocery store trips in a week.
- Shop Easier
When you have a meal plan in place you know exactly what to buy and already have all of these ingredients on your list. This eliminates impulse purchases. Have you ever purchased something at the grocery store because you think you will need it, but it winds up going bad before you use it? It won’t happen anymore with a meal plan in place.
- Eat Healthier
When you have to write out what your meals are going to be you are forcing yourself to to a hard look at what you will be ingesting and you more than likely aren’t going to be loading up on TV dinners or Hot Pockets when you grocery shop while you have a meal plan in place.
- Eliminate Stress
Saving money, having easier grocery trips, and eating healthier will, in turn, eliminate stress associated with dinner.
- Enjoy Variety
Start with a list of your family’s favorite meals. The bigger the list the better. You need at least 30-31 meals if you want something different every night. I recommend this since it helps prevent your meal plan from getting boring. The more meals you can incorporate the better. I’ve started by adding one or two new meals each month so we can have something we’ve never tried before. If we like it we add it to our master list, if we don’t we pitch the recipe.
Below you will find our September meal plan. As you can see, we’ve left Saturday as our “free day.” We don’t necessarily have to use Saturday as the free day, we could use it on a Tuesday or a Friday, but it’s there to give us a day that we can use if we so choose. If we choose not to utilize the free day we will have something simple like grilled cheese, ham sandwiches, or egg salad sandwiches.