Meal planning is exactly what it sounds like: planning meals in advance, so you know what you’re cooking ahead of time. Not when your family starts whining “I’m hungry, what’s for supper?” There are two levels to meal planning. Basic and advanced, today we’re taking about the basics.
Meal planning seems like a hassle, but think of it as an investment of time. It takes time to do, but in the end, it actually saves time. It can also be a key to healthier eating because we tend to make poor food decisions when we are hungry. We might also go for things that are quick and easy (like pre-made packaged foods or take-out) and we all know these are not the healthiest choices. Meal planning can also reduce stress because you no longer have to decide what to make, think about whether or not you have ingredients on hand, or run to the grocery store at the last minute.
When many people think about meal planning, what comes to mind is a month-long calendar with 3 different meals for every day that month. Or maybe the opposite: a week-long schedule that repeats every. single. week. FOREVER! Of course, you can choose to use one of these approaches if they work for you, but in my opinion, the first option is much too complicated, and I would go crazy if I ate the same thing every week forevermore!
Meal planning can be as simple as you want. The best time to try it is right before you go grocery shopping. And might include these steps.
- Take stock of what you have, and whether or not you want to make meals with these items.
- Think about what you’d like to cook and eat in the next few days (the time period can be whatever you want. Typically the period of time you’d like to have between grocery store visits).
- Review the recipes for these meals.
- Write a grocery list for these meals.
And you’ve just done some basic meal planning. As mentioned before, it can be much more involved, but we’ll leave that for another day.