Benefits: Save you time, money, and help you LOSE WEIGHT
Costs: You must commit to get organized initially and learn how to make a plan (but once you make it a habit, it really simplifies your life)
Making a Plan
Yes I know, you are already too strapped for time to add one more item to your to-do list, but I can personally assure you that you will actually gain more time for your millions of other chores by sitting down and spending 30 minutes on meal planning each week. Before I committed to plan my family of four’s meals, I was going to the store at least 3-4 times a week, buying whatever sounded good + ingredients for that night’s dinner. I would also buy lots more impulse items for me and the kids just to keep them quiet and moving along. I had to stop the madness one day when my husband asked me to total up how much I spend in a month on groceries. I was a little offended (how dare he!) and in denial at first, but completely shocked by the total once I added it up. It was ALOT of money and ALOT of time once I realized how many times per week I was going.
SO now I spend approx. 30 minutes each week sitting down and writing out my plan. Lessons learned:
1. Have your calendar open so you can see the week’s events and take into consideration. For example, Weds nights are swim lessons and Fri night is soccer, so I know I will need to either make a big enough dinner the nights before to have leftovers on the busy nights or have ingredients on hand for a quick “not from scratch” meal.
2. Save time and money by checking your pantry and fridge see what ingredients you already have on hand before making the meal list.
3. Consult your favorite recipe books and definitely bookmark these 2 healthy websites: Cooking Light.com and EatingWell.com, where you can create an account and save your faves.
4. Start a 3 ring binder with clear sheets. Stick your favorite healthy recipes in here so you can save ideas you see in random places like magazines and old family recipes written on the back of envelopes.
5. Try to set aside the same specific time each week for your shopping, this helps make it a habit and hopefully you can go by yourself (if you have kids leave them home!) so that you can get through there faster and with less impulse whining buys.
6. It doesn’t always work out perfectly! Sometimes we run out of milk or whatever mid-week but it makes it easier to run into the store for one thing because I know have everything else we need until Saturday!
Stick to your plan of making the one major trip once a week with your list, and you will SAVE A TON OF MONEY! And calories because you won’t need to stop at the drive thru on soccer nights plus it’s always easier to stick to your goals of “eating healthier” if you always have those healthy ingredients on hand and on the list to make!