The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Meal Planning, Part 1: The Benefits of Meal Planning
February 27, 2018
In reality, I’m not a lazy girl, and neither are you. At least not all around. I’m selectively lazy, like at night when it’s time to brush my teeth, and I just want my husband to do it for me.
But the truth is, I work pretty hard all day long to keep my kiddos alive and to keep my house from turning into a landfill.
Even as a lover of food, thinking about dinner is a burden.
People often seem surprised that I don’t love to spend hours in the kitchen. “But you like to cook!” They say. Yes, but it’s not fun when I also know I desperately need to wipe down Rice Krispies that have fallen on the floor before they become fossilized or I have a two-year-old pulling at my pants, wanting to take a bath. I do like to cook, but I also like to live.
I know that in order to have good meals that I enjoy, but that are also easy to make and don’t break the bank, I have to plan ahead. But I’m not one of those amazingly organized people who come up with an intricate system to guarantee my family is getting exactly the right amounts of fruits, veggies, proteins, and carbs. Maybe someday I’ll be that girl, but right now, I’m not.
For it to work for me, I have to keep it simple. I imagine that might be the same way for you. My goal is to help you plan meals in an easy, yet effective way.
Maybe you’re not convinced yet—maybe you have considered meal planning, but you’re not sure it’s worth the effort. I plan to convince you it is.
The Benefits of Meal Planning
I could try to make a massive list of all the benefits of meal planning, but there are really just a few, but they are important (at least to me). Here are some reasons I’ve found meal planning is awesome:
You Can Save Money
When I make a real effort to plan my meals for the week, I avoid making a dozen trips to the grocery store. I don’t know about you, but when I go to the store without a plan, I make some impulse buys, or purchases that are less than necessary. Going to the grocery store fewer times throughout the week helps me avoid spending more money than I should.
I can’t count all the days when my husband has come home from work and I haven’t started preparing dinner. I’ve probably thought about it all day, then come to the conclusion that we’ll just have to have pizza. Planning ahead helps us avoid spending too much by going out to eat or picking up pizza too often.
You Can Eat Healthier
I’m not naturally a health nut. If I want to get any vegetables into my body, I have to be really conscious about it. Planning ahead helps me make healthier choices for me and my family. And if you’re trying to lose weight, meal planning is a must! When you’re dieting and feeling hungry, you’re not going to run to the store for some raspberries or asparagus when you need a quick snack—you’ll run to McDonald’s and get a hot fudge sundae because it’s not so bad.…If you plan healthy meals and sn
acks, you’re set for those weak moments.
You Can Save Time
Remember how I mentioned those dozens of trips to the store? If you plan meals, you don’t have to waste time going to the store every few days and spending time walking up and down the aisles, then back again because you forgot to get jam when you were grabbing peanut butter, over and over again. I’m embarrassed to say how many times I’ve called my husband and said, “Sorry I took so long…I’m finally leaving.”
You can also save thinking time. Maybe this is weird, but when I’m not sure what I’m going to have for dinner, I think about it almost all day, tossing ideas back and forth in my head until I come up with nothing and we end up going to Wal-Mart to grab a DiGiorno’s pizza. Save brain space for something else!
I also save time by planning easy meals to make. I love using my slow cooker or Instant Pot because it takes almost no time to make dinner.
You Can Do It Your Way
Guess what? There’s no right or wrong way to meal plan. I think a lot of people are turned off by it because they think it’s complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. This is literally my meal plan this week:
I personally prefer to just plan dinner because I usually switch off between two or three breakfasts, and I like to eat leftovers for lunch.
You also don’t have to plan a week’s worth of meals (again, see my meal plan above). It recently hit me that I throw a toooonnnn of food out when I do my monthly fridge cleaning. That’s kind of depressing considering how much we spend on food! That’s why I went down to planning only three or four meals. This works for me because we only have 2 ½ eaters at home (me, hubby, and a picky 2-year-old who usually wants a pb&j instead of whatever delicious meal we’re eating). If you have a bigger family and won’t have as much food left after your dinners, then go ahead and plan more.
Come back next week for part 2 of the Lazy Girl’s Guide to Meal Planning. I’ll be sharing some more simple ideas on how to make a weekly meal plan in minutes (after some initial thinking and jotting of ideas).