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Before Chesh and I moved up to Michigan for our jobs working with Cedar Campus, I never had to worry about grocery money. I made a decent amount and didn’t have to worry about over-spending on groceries. And all things considered, my budget was pretty high for only one person. When we moved up to the Great White North, our annual salary got cut WAY down from what it used to be (that’s what I get for loving camp so much…) I had to budget and STICK to my budget.
October was hard. Really hard. But then November kicked in and I decided to try something. I pulled out an old picture frame, and put white paper under the glass. I divided it into sections, and voila! I had myself a Weekly Meal Planner.
Not only did I keep track of what meals we were going to eat each week, but I also wrote down what recipes I wanted to make and how many times I wanted to make them each month. I wrote my grocery list from that. If we didn’t need it for a recipe, it didn’t go on the list. I kept track of breakfast, lunch, and dinner items, and talked to Chesh about what he really wanted to eat. Doing this cut out grocery spending in almost HALF!
So, in an effort to pass on knowledge, here are five reasons why you need a meal planner, and why you need to start planning NOW!
1. Meal planning saves you money.
Every time you go to the grocery store, be aware of what you’re buying. Is it for a recipe that you’ve planned for? Or are you buying it just because it might be something you’ll try sometime? Being aware of how much you spend and what you spend it on can save you a lot of $$$ in the end. It might be hard at first, but if you’re in a pinch for money, stick to your list. Your wallet will thank me later.
2. Keeping a food planner will help you create a balanced diet.
Balanced meals include one food from each food group: Dairy, Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, and Protein. When planning a meal, try to include “five of five.” Here’s an example:
Spaghetti is a frequent menu item for many families. Spaghetti includes ground meat, vegetables (onion, mushrooms and marinara sauce) and grains (spaghetti). What food groups are missing? Dairy and Fruit. Pour milk to drink and add a fruit salad (maybe even as dessert) for a balanced, nutrient-rich family meal.
3. Being aware of what you eat can help with losing weight.
It’s amazing how much junk food I can eat without even realizing. When you meal plan, be aware of your meats, starches, fats, carbs, veggies, and sugars that are in each meal. Once you start writing them out you’ll begin to notice areas that might need to be cut back on. If you eat a lot of pasta, for example, be aware that those carbs can add up, and it’s good to balance out your week with the right combination of foods keep you most healthy.
Meal planning (and sticking to your grocery list) can also help with cutting back on those snack foods. If you don’t spend the money on them, you don’t eat them.
4. Planning ahead decreases stress.
I LOVE being able to know that my week has already been planned out. I don’t have to think to myslef, “Oh geez, what am I going to make for dinner tonight? I could make chicken? But all the chicken is still frozen…”
As part of my morning routine, I glance at my meal planner and can pull out meats, veggies, or whatever to thaw out or marinate before I go to work. Saves me a ton of trouble and stress for the rest of the day. I get home ready to cook because I’ve planned ahead, rather than feel stressed out because I didn’t.
5. Keeping a meal planner makes life easier on YOU.
Ultimately even if you aren’t someone who does well at planning ahead, an easy weekly meal planner can take the strain off of the week. Make Taco Tuesday part of your plan or make Thursdays the night that your significant other cooks. There are a lot of stressors that pop up throughout the day. Meal planning, and dinner, shouldn’t be one of them.
Click HERE to download your Weekly Meal Planner and get started today!
If you’re looking for something a little more fancy, try out these notepads from Amazon!
- U Brands Magnetic Dry Erase Weekly Calendar Board
- CKB Meal Food Prep Dry Erase Refrigerator Board
- Magnetic Blackboard Menu
Hope this is helpful for all you meal planners out there. I’d love to know what your favorite weekly meal is!