Grab a glass of water, cup of coffe or mug tea and buckle up because I am going to let you in my #1 Meal Planning Secret.
Meal planning is the habit of writing down what you plan on eating for the week.
I meal plan every single dinner during the week (even take out nights) and for some of the other meals, its more routine eating. For example, I always have a yogurt with berries, time of day depends on my schedule but having yogurt every day fits my nutritional needs and takes the guesswork out of what I am going to eat. When it comes to breakfast and lunch, I am like Steve Jobs with mid-day meals. The less I have to think about it, the more I can use my brain and willpower for other more important endeavors.
Ok, let me paint a picture for you...(Version 1)
You have a busy day running errands, working, stress over house, kids, school, parents, or all of the above. It is 5:00 and someone in your house walks up to you and says 'Whats for dinner?' Is that question triggering? It is 5:00 PM, you have nothing planned for dinner, nothing in the fridge, frozen meats and you are exhausted and want wine STAT. Pizza it is or chinese or thai. You know what it isnt? A balanced, nutritious meal.
You have a busy day running errands, working, stress over house, kids, school, parents, or all of the above. It is 5:00 and someone in your house walks up to you and says 'Whats for dinner?' You refer that person to the print out in the cabinet that says tonight is 'Orange Honey Chicken with rice and cucumbers.' The chicken is thawed in the fridge, the rice is made and you just need to turn on Instapot and put the ingredients in. Once that is done, you pour yourself a glass of wine and dinner is on the table in 30 minutes.
Yes, I know reality is somewhere in the middle.
So that is a pretty clear reason WHY meal planning can help. You have the food, you have the idea and you have a plan. I have two bonus reasons!
1) Meal Planning saves money: When you plan and cook your own meals, you are most likely saving money on each of those meals, compared to purchasing the same type of meal in a restaurant (see chart below).
2) Meal Planning helps reduce food waste, which can save you money on your grocery bill in the long run. While it might be impossible to go 100% waste free, some simple planning techniques can help dramatically reduce your food waste.
For example, if one of my casseroles requires some baby spinach, I’ll also try to plan lunches or smoothies for the week that also require baby spinach, helping me to use up more of the ingredient I purchased.
Simply eating leftovers or planning a day to eat leftovers is a good practice to reduce food waste (and therefore save you money!).
Ok, so some of this you have heard from me before, I will tell you something new. Even better, I will show you!
My FAVORITE app of all of the apps on my phone is called ANYLIST.
I have created a screen recording of HOW I use ANYLIST to meal plan and to save money.
As the video shows, I pull up the app, I have my regular grocery list and then I can look in my fridge and see that I have Kale and narrow down my recipes saved into the app, that have kale. Same with chicken. So, I start to build my meal plan for the week based on what I already have and then add the remaining items to the list. EASY as PIE!
Buy it, try it and let me know how it goes!