Meal Planning 101: Benefits of Meal Planning

For lots of us the start of a new year gives us hope of a more organised, less stressful year ahead. For me, meal planning is one of the really key ways to make sure I feel on top of what is going on, whilst also ensuring I eat balanced, nutritious meals (which is extra important after the holiday season!). Over the next few weeks I’m going to share a few posts on the basics of meal planning, starting with the big ‘why‘ – the benefits of meal planning.

At the end of this little series I’m going to have some bonus meal planning goodies for my lovely newsletter subscribers so there’s no better time to pop yourself on the list! You can signup by clicking right here, or through the box at the end of this post and you’ll get a copy of my Healthy Drinks Guide ebook as well!

Benefits of Meal Planning

Anyway, back to the meal planning! Here they are, my top 6 benefits of meal planning!

1. Save Money

Planning your meals in advance can save you significant amounts of money in a few different ways. Firstly, you will hit the shops armed with a detailed shopping list and this will help to cut down on spontaneous, unnecessary purchases, as well as enabling you to cook using seasonal produce which is always much cheaper to buy. Meal planning also allows you to buy in bulk, particularly for non-perishable items like grains or legumes as you know you can plan to use them in the weeks ahead. You’ll also be able to spend a lot less money on takeaway or ‘ready’ meals as you won’t need them as a last minute resort. This alone can save you huge amounts!

2. Save Time

Having a meal plan can help you save a lot of time as you can start your week prepared and not have to duck to the shops every day or so (saving you money as well!), you’ll have everything you need waiting for you at home. It can save you time in cooking your food as well, if you know what you’re going to be cooking you can prep some of the ingredients ahead of time, or even the night before if you know you’re going to be short on time. You’ll also save time as you won’t be standing in front of the fridge staring at a bunch of random ingredients wondering what you can turn them in to for dinner either!

3. No More ‘What’s For Dinner’ Stress

Setting out a meal plan will save yourself the daily, 5pm stress over ‘what should I cook for dinner’ (or worse, kids constantly asking what’s for dinner!) as you’ll not only know what you’re having but you’ll also be sure you’ve got all the necessary ingredients ready and waiting for you. This means one less thing to think about in that delightful post work period where a thousand other things need to be done (especially if you have kids!), and if you’re like me, your brain is probably fried by then anyway!

Benefits of Meal Planning

4. Reduce Food Waste

One of the big benefits of meal planning is that it can significantly reduce the amount of food that gets wasted in your home. As you’ll be buying food that you know you will be cooking it avoids the old trick of buying veggies in the hope you’ll use them, then finding them sad and sorry in the back of the fridge two weeks later. It also means you can make sure you use all of those ingredients that generally only come in larger sizes – like a pumpkin for example. You could plan to use some roasted on Monday night, some more on Wednesday in a risotto and the rest to make homemade burgers, rather than being left with half a pumpkin and no idea what to do with it! Given the amount of food that gets thrown out in Australian households every year, anything we can do to cut down on this the better!

5. Eat Healthier

As I mentioned in point 1, planning your meals can significantly reduce your reliance on takeaway or ‘ready’ meals, and as a result you’re likely to eat much healthier. You’re also likely to use more seasonal vegetables and as a result have a more balanced diet. It will immediately become obvious if you’re relying on creamy pasta 4 nights a week and you’ll be able to switch it up with other, equally simple and delicious, recipes. You’re also more likely to eat ‘proper’ meals rather than just cobbling together whatever you can find in the fridge which doesn’t usually end up as the healthiest of options!

6. Eat More Variety

Planning your meals will usually result in eating a greater variety of foods as you’re able to give it some proper thought, and make use of cookbooks and blogs for inspiration. I cook at home almost every night, but I know when I let my meal planning slide I tend to rely on the same meals for quick mid-week meals, and whilst I might make a pretty good stir-fry there’s really only so many I can eat in a row! You don’t have to make a fancy, complicated meal every night, but you’re still likely to get much more variety into your meals when you’re planning in advance!

And there we have it – my top benefits of meal planning! It might not be the most exciting task in the world (although I do love flicking through cookbooks!) but as you can see it’s definitely worth it. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some of my top tips for the how of meal planning, there are lots of ways to make it easier and really work for you and your family. I’d love to hear your tips and ideas along the way as well!

Don’t forget to pop yourself on the newsletter list so you don’t miss the next few posts in this series, plus your bonus freebies at the end!

Do you regularly plan your meals? Have any additional benefits of meal planning you’d like to share?

Join the Weekly News & get my Meal Planning 101 Guide!

24 Comments on Meal Planning 101: Benefits of Meal Planning

  1. merilyn
    January 14, 2015 at 9:24 am (5 years ago)

    a good post with useful tips thanks liz!
    we try to do most of these things as I hate waste! … I’m not a good planner but I have rough ideas with the list always for shopping … however I’ve been known to loose the list;0 … but still come home near enough to what was on it! lol m:)X

    Reply
    • I Spy Plum Pie (admin)
      January 17, 2015 at 8:59 am (5 years ago)

      You must have a better memory than me Merilyn! xx

      Reply
    • I Spy Plum Pie (admin)
      January 17, 2015 at 9:00 am (5 years ago)

      Thanks Caralyn, so glad you found it helpful!

      Reply
  2. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
    January 16, 2015 at 8:26 pm (5 years ago)

    I meal plan like a boss and I love it for all the reasons you’ve listed. It just makes life easier, our bank balance better and our meals healthier and more delicious. I always like to keep a stash of meals in the freezer so if everything doesn’t go to plan, we’ve still got a fuss free dinner close at hand!
    Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid recently posted…10 Things to do in Chicago

    Reply
    • I Spy Plum Pie (admin)
      January 17, 2015 at 9:00 am (5 years ago)

      I’m definitely a fan of stocking the freezer too, it makes life so much easier!

      Reply
  3. Jess - alittlepartoftheworld
    January 16, 2015 at 8:39 pm (5 years ago)

    I really must make more of an effort to meal plan. I always have the best of intentions and then something comes up to throw me out. These are great tips and a great reminder to give it a go. Jx

    Reply
    • I Spy Plum Pie (admin)
      January 17, 2015 at 9:01 am (5 years ago)

      Thanks Jess, hopefully the next two posts in the series will help you get started!

      Reply
  4. Vicki @ Knocked Up and Abroad
    January 16, 2015 at 8:53 pm (5 years ago)

    Yes! I’ve been saying I need to meal plan for a while now and I really MUST DO IT! I just hate getting closer to dinner time and still having no idea what to make and even worse, going to the supermarket with the kidlets because I haven’t planned well enough and need something. I’m on it, thanks for this timely post!
    Vicki @ Knocked Up and Abroad recently posted…The Tassie Mummy Escape

    Reply
    • I Spy Plum Pie (admin)
      January 17, 2015 at 9:01 am (5 years ago)

      Oh boy, that doesn’t sound fun at all! Glad I could be of assistance!

      Reply
  5. Min@WriteoftheMiddle
    January 16, 2015 at 9:53 pm (5 years ago)

    Great idea for a series! I’ve been meal planning for many years. It has been the best choice I made ever! It takes a little bit of time to sit down and plan the meals for the week, then what you need for shopping but then it is done! When planning I make sure we get a good balance of nutritious meals over the week. I don’t waste any money buying stuff that ends up getting thrown out AND we I don’t have to um and ah at night over what to cook and ponder if I have all the ingredients. Life changer! 😉
    Min@WriteoftheMiddle recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: A few moments with a surfer dude!

    Reply
    • I Spy Plum Pie (admin)
      January 17, 2015 at 9:02 am (5 years ago)

      It’s amazing how many flow on effects it has isn’t it!

      Reply
    • I Spy Plum Pie (admin)
      January 17, 2015 at 9:02 am (5 years ago)

      I had a feeling this time of year might be helpful for people!

      Reply
  6. Sonia Life Love Hiccups
    January 16, 2015 at 10:30 pm (5 years ago)

    I used to be so good with the meal planning and then December kind of threw it all in a heap. I must get back into it. You have inspired me xx
    Sonia Life Love Hiccups recently posted…Weekend Rewind – Slow Mode

    Reply
    • I Spy Plum Pie (admin)
      January 17, 2015 at 9:03 am (5 years ago)

      December has a bad habit of doing that!

      Reply
  7. Em
    January 17, 2015 at 1:59 am (5 years ago)

    I love meal planning. I just feel so relieved sticking to a plan and having everything we need in reach when we have to cook after a long day at work. I don’t necessarily dedicate a specific dish to a day just incase we feel like something different so we do mix the recipes around a lot, but it’s def a positive!

    Reply
    • I Spy Plum Pie (admin)
      January 17, 2015 at 9:03 am (5 years ago)

      It definitely is a positive isn’t it! Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  8. Sarah Poppy
    January 17, 2015 at 8:04 am (5 years ago)

    I try to meal plan every week. Being a full time working mum it is key to keep my sanity in check. There is nothing like getting home from work and having to think about what to cook with two whinging kids asking for dinner! Great tips. Definitely saves time and money!

    Reply
    • I Spy Plum Pie (admin)
      January 17, 2015 at 9:04 am (5 years ago)

      Thanks Sarah!

      Reply
    • I Spy Plum Pie (admin)
      January 21, 2015 at 5:56 pm (5 years ago)

      Exactly, because I walk everywhere I don’t want to have to make extra trips too often, especially if it’s hot or rainy!

      Reply
    • I Spy Plum Pie (admin)
      January 21, 2015 at 5:56 pm (5 years ago)

      Thanks Malinda, hope you keep finding it useful!

      Reply

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