Several years ago, my husband and I both agreed it was time for a full kitchen renovation. Our 25+-year-old kitchen was impractical, falling apart and difficult for more than one person to be cooking. Living with food sensitivities means we cook nearly all our meals at home… so this was not a good situation. But with the average kitchen renovation coming in at $45k, we also didn’t want to go into tremendous debt in the processes. As a result we became very intentional with our spending to save and pay cash.
In a gluten, dairy free and largely organic home, its likely no surprise that a majority of our monthly spending was on food or food related events. But it seems we’re not alone… According to an article in CNN Money, after housing and transportation – Americans spend their money on food.
So with that in mind – we took a hard look at our food budget and devised a plan to stretch our dollar. This is the moment I fell in love with Meal Planning. Meal Planning has allowed us to cut our monthly food budget by 25%! But that’s not the only positive to meal planning…
1. Saves Money: Having a meal plan helps you build a dependable grocery list – so when you go to the store; you have a purpose rather than falling victim to the countless unhealthy and unnecessary options. It also allows you to use up what’s in your pantry/refrigerator before it goes bad, thus reducing food waste.
2. Make Healthier Choices: Most of us, when in a pinch, will opt for convenience. Convenience food, unless your grabbing raw organic veggies, are typically high in calories and low in nutrition.
3. Better Nutrition: By planning in advance, you can pick healthier, well-balanced recipes that fit your unique nutritional need. It also allows you to plan around event (sports, meetings, etc.) making it more likely you’ll follow through, rather than picking up fast food.
4. Reduces Stress: Planning has all but stopped the “what’s for dinner” dance that is so common with middle school children. And if I’m honest – the same dance that occurs in my own mind leaving me overwhelmed, panicked and ready to scream – especially after a long day at work. Its also super easy to reuse plans and grocery lists… thus cutting down on future planning.
The best way to get started is to simply grab a pen and paper, wright the days of the week on the left side and meals you’ll be making across the top.
Personally… I prefer to plan for the month. I’ll grab a monthly calendar and pencil in my meals. Either way works… the important thing is your planning!
What’s some of your secrets (or challenges) to meal planning? Let us know below!