What Are The Benefits Of Meal Planning?
Meal planning is basically thinking of your meals ahead of time so you’re not stuck wondering “what’s for dinner” at the last minute. There are many benefits to meal planning such as:
- You usually eat healthier meals.
- Eat better quality more nutritious foods.
- Save money by not ordering more expensive takeout or going out to restaurants.
- Save time because you’re not wondering what to eat everyday.
- You waste less food because you have a plan for every ingredient in your fridge.
Because of these benefits, I try to meal plan every week. After I plan out my meals for the week, I usually go grocery shopping and meal prep on Sundays.
How To Meal Plan For The Week On A Budget
Take Inventory Of What You Have
I recommend you plan your meals around foods that you already have at home. Take inventory to see what food you have in the fridge, freezer, and pantry. You can use my FREE Weekly Meal Plannerto help you keep track of your food inventory. This free printable will help you know what you currently have at home to work with.
Make A Menu
Once you know what food you have, start by making a menu incorporating those foods. Look for recipes that use those foods and ingredients. This will help you save money and cut down on waste. Decide what meals you will make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can use my Weekly Meal Plannerto write down your menu.
Plan Your Grocery Shopping Trip
Once you consume the food you already have in your home, you can start incorporating grocery shopping in your meal plan. If you want to meal plan for the week on a budget you have to plan your grocery shopping trip. When making your menu, start by looking to see what items are on sale that week. So be sure to check your local store flyer before you make your menu. You can also check your newspaper inserts or coupon sites such as coupons.com to see if there are any coupons you can use. Just be sure you buy foods that you will actually use (and not because it’s on sale) so they don’t go to waste.
Once you have your menu planned out make your grocery shopping list before you go to the store. When you get to the grocery store, stick to your list and only focus on getting the things you need. Leave your children at home if you think they will make it hard for you to stick to your grocery list. One method I use to stick to my list is to not go to the grocery store hungry. I find when I go to the grocery store hungry, a $50 shopping list turns into $100!
Batch Your Meal
The next step is to actually do your meal prep. I’m not going to lie, this takes the most time out of the entire process; but it will save you even more time down the road. It normally takes me about 1-2 hours to cook 6 days worth of food. That works out to be only 10-20 minutes a day and no time spent wondering what I’m going to have for lunch or dinner.
I normally cook 2-3 different dishes during my meal prep so I’m not stuck eating the same thing every day. Once I’m done cooking, I batch my meals in these great food storage containersand then I freeze them. I like these particular containers because they are freezer safe, microwave and oven safe, leak proof with airtight lids, durable, and help with portion control. It only takes me 5 minutes when time comes to reheat my food.
Batching your meals is so important when you meal plan for the week on a budget because it makes dinner so convenient. Most of the time we eat out or order in because it’s easy and convenient. Now dinner is as easy as popping your container in the oven or microwave.
With all these easy tips that help you meal plan for the week on a budget, you will certainly save time and money. Start by taking inventory of the food you already have; make a menu; plan your grocery shopping; then batch and freeze your meals after cooking