Meal planning is a key pillar in our home. Being able to put a home-cooked meal on the table on time without worrying whether we’re missing any ingredients and ensuring that we’re having a balanced diet removes in my perspective a huge amount of stress from our lives. I just wouldn’t be able to operate without it. What about you? Do you plan your meals, or do you believe, like most people who don’t, that it’s hard work? Well, let me demonstrate to you it doesn’t have to be.
As with any other habits you want to introduce or get rid of, envisioning how your life will look once you’ve made the change can be a great source of motivation. So let me first make sure that you have a comprehensive idea of what there’s to be gained when you plan your meals:
- You do your grocery shopping faster because you’re able to write a shopping list based on your meal plan. #TimeSaved
- You avoid spur-of-the-moment purchases of random or junk food when you do your shopping, food that will likely end up not being used and wasted. #BetterHealth #MoneySaved
- You put a meal on the table in less time because you don’t have to decide at the last minute what to eat and have the ingredients on hand. #TimeSaved
- You’re less likely to eat out which often results in eating bigger portions of food loaded with higher fat and sugar. #MoneySaved #BetterHealth
- Writing the grocery shopping list, shopping and/or cooking can be delegated to someone else being your spouse or children. #TimeSaved
- It removes a lot of unnecessary stress around meal times, especially if you have young children to be fed at regular times. #BetterHealth
In summary, when you plan your meals, you save time and money and improve your health.
So tell me, what’s not to be liked about planning your meals? Ok, time needs to be invested in the planning, but you can be very effective if you follow my approach below.
#1 BLOCK THE TIME TO PLAN YOUR MEALS IN YOUR SCHEDULE
Schedule 30 minutes in your diary to plan your meals for the week ahead. Add 15 minutes to take stock of the contents of your fridge and pantry and write your grocery list. It’s critical that you block the time in your diary if you want to make it happen.
#2 ESTABLISH GUIDELINES
It’s easier to plan your meals if you adopt general planning guidelines. In our home, it typically goes like this:
- Monday: Chicken
- Tuesday: Vegetarian
- Wednesday: Grilled meat and veggies
- Thursday: Salad and pasta
- Friday: Fish and veggies
- Saturday: New recipe
- Sunday: Leftovers
Create your meal plan on the basis of the guidelines you’ve defined.
If you follow a recipe, add the source of the recipe on your meal plan e.g. the recipe book and the page number or the folder where you’ve stored the recipe on your computer. You’ll save time retrieving the recipe when you need it to put together your grocery shopping list and cook your meal.
#3 CREATE A FOLDER FOR YOUR MEAL PLANS
Don’t discard your meal plans! At the end of each week, take 5 minutes to add some comments on your plan e.g. X didn’t like this or need to adjust recipe (reduce cream etc.) and keep it in a folder.
#4 DEVELOP ROLLING MEAL PLANS
After a few months of compiling meal plans, build standard meal plans to roll over 8 weeks for example. Keep some blank spaces if you want to try new recipes. I highly encourage you to write your plans in an Excel spreadsheet or a Word document. Your meal plan will be available with just one click of your mouse! Of course, you may have to customise your plan if you have guests, eat out, etc. but most of the time, it should only take you 2 minutes to come up with your meal plan for the following week. Isn’t that great?
#5 REVISIT YOUR STANDARD PLANS
Once a year, you may want to revisit your meal plans in case you are bored with some dishes or your children’s tastes have changed and you want to introduce new recipes. Take this opportunity to get rid of the recipes you don’t like or know you’ll never try.
So what do you think? Not so difficult after all right? And I can guarantee that it’ll have an impact on your health, sanity, and waistline in the long run! Feel free to get in touch if you want to discuss more about it!