five ways meal planning can change your life

five ways meal planning can change your life

I've always been a last-minute type of person and a terrible procrastinator. I would generally plan things out in my head but what really motivated me was running out of time. As I've gotten just a little bit older, I've realized I hate living that way. Like, really hate it. The adrenaline rush of only have an hour to do what should have been done days ago doesn't give me that high anymore. It just leaves me stressed and grouchy. So, I’ve started to mend my ways of 27 years. Just a touch.

Last Monday, I spent about an hour planning our meals for the week and I don't think I can ever go back. I feel organized, on top of things, and confident I can make satisfactory meals each night. I also know exactly what I'm making for my husband's lunches and for my own lunches. And I even planning out the weekend’s meals; which, for some reason, had been sadly neglected thus far.

1. Meal planning can help to lower your stress level.

Before I got married, I rarely planning out what I was going to eat. Usually, I would resort to creating something random and/or super easy out of my fridge.  But I wanted to make nice, grown-up meals for my husband. While I quickly came up with some pretty fast, semi-healthy meals, I would subconsciously worry and panic throughout the day about what we were going to have for dinner that night. Did we have enough ingredients? Would I have to stop by the store after work at 7:30pm while my husband waited patiently for me to get home? Now, I know exactly what I’m going to make each night and I know I bought everything needed for those meals. I can even do prep in the mornings to streamline the evenings.

2. Meal planning can help you eat healthier.

Yesterday, I forgot I had already planned out my lunch, so I began to think about what I wanted to eat...while I was getting hungry. My mind went immediately to this nice gluten-free sourdough bread my mom got for me and I started to envision two huge slices slipping into the toaster... but then I remembered: turkey patty, rice, and some fruit/veggie. Instead of having twice the number of carbs I needed, I had a very nice portion-controled meal that completely satisfied me. If you plan out your meals before you get hungry, it's highly likely you will make healthier choices.

3. Meal planning can help you stay within your budget.

Sitting down and planning out your meals for just a few minutes can help you know exactly what you need to buy. It can also help you use what you already have in your house and you can eliminate those unnecessary extras that always seem to make their way home with you. Plan your meals, make a list and stick to it... and if the list is too long and [you predict] expensive, revamp your meals that use less expensive ingredients. This will also help keep you from eating out as an "I'm too tired and I don't have anything planned" excuse to making dinner.

(There may be times where certain things are on sale and it would be frugal to stock up on those things: particular meats. Feel free to do so, but make sure you adjust your food budget for several weeks after to account for this).

4. Meal planning can help you make better meals.

Meal planning can eliminate that "oh, these tacos were totally thrown together and I forgot we were out of sour cream" moment. If you know exactly what you're going to be eating, you'll know exactly what to buy! Easy, right? Meal planning can also give you an opportunity to open a few cookbooks, expand your menu, or try a few new ideas you've had brewing the back of your head. For me, it's the butternut squash soup I wanted to make a month (or two) ago... and the squash is still sitting in my kitchen basket...

5. Meal planning can help you eliminate waste.

For me, the challenge is fruits and vegetables. I never seem to know how many I'll need, so then I overbuy. Before I know it, they're molding in my fridge. And after waiting a while longer, I throw them out, mourning over the wasted money and product. But, if I meal plan, I know exactly what we'll be eating, when we'll be eating it, and how much I need to buy. Now, I'm not expecting to completely eliminate waste but I think it'll be a great start to perfecting the art of wasting less and saving money.



{To those living the newly-wed life: Are you in a slump with your meals? I find myself in one every month or so. Soon, I’ll be sharing several weeks worth of balanced (easily gluten-free) meals that are fast and simple to make}.

{To those living the single life: I know I discussed meal planning in the context of married life but it is just as beneficial those living the single life! Meal planning develops organizational habits that will be useful for the rest of your life, not to mention you can reduce stress, save money, and be healthier at the same time!}

America is coming to an end....or is it?

America is coming to an end....or is it?

goals vs. resolutions: hello 2016

goals vs. resolutions: hello 2016