Top 10 Reasons Why You Should (and CAN) Embrace Meal Planning

1. Feel more organized

Meal planning automatically makes you feel like a champ. You’re getting yourself and your family set up for the week. Wahoo! It’s the best well-kept secret among those people that love to eat good food but don’t have a whole lot of time. Ever notice how no one really talks about their meal planning? Sure, you’ll see a pretty Instagram photo of your friend’s meal, but not their beloved weekly plan. Meal planning is so beneficial, but does require some thought upfront. Check out our previous blog post on how to “Set Yourself Up for Success in the Kitchen,” to make sure you have the essentials to get started.

2. Save $$

It’s not rocket science. Dining out and ordering take out cost more than home-cooked meals. As a registered dietitian, I often hear the complaint that “healthy food is too expensive.” There’s no denying that some produce prices can seem daunting, but there are some ways around that. Take one of Leanne Brown’s Good + Cheap meal plans for a spin, and feel good about your dinners and your budget. Did I mention that most of our meals on EatLove cost less than $4 per serving? Time to get a bigger piggy bank.

3. Cut down on food waste

This goes along with #2, saving money. Let’s talk scary stats for a second. The average American family throws away $2,200 a year in food waste (1). I could think of a lot of fun things I could do with $2,200 instead of throwing it down the drain. Be right back, Hawaii is calling my name… Luckily, our plans are optimized to make every ingredient count. If you plan your meals strategically, you’ll use up all your produce and avoid that feeling of guilt when you find that container of berries rotting in the back corner of the fridge. Oops.

4. Less stress

grocery list iphoneStressed about lack of time to prepare a delicious and nutritious meal that the whole family will enjoy? Stressed about how much your grocery bill will cost? Stressed that you need to accommodate your son with a food allergy AND your daughter who is a vegetarian? Put the stress aside and accommodate all those needs by updating your taste profile here.

5. Grocery shopping won’t be so overwhelming

I’m going to level with you here: the last place I want to be on a Sunday night is a crowded grocery store. I’ll admit it, I don’t love grocery shopping. I barely even like shopping for clothes. That said, grocery shopping is a whole lot more bearable – dare I say – even enjoyable – when you have a clear list and can zip through the aisles like a pro. Be sure to bring your EatLove grocery list via printout or on your smart phone.

6. Figuring out what to eat after work on the fly is mentally draining

Save brain power and breathe a sigh of relief when you realize you’ve already got dinner covered tonight. And the next night. And the one after that.

7. You’ll have a more balanced diet

When we throw things together last minute, or don’t have anything in the fridge, it’s likely going to be less nutritious and well-rounded than a carefully well-thought-out meal. As Errick Mcadams said, “If you keep good food in your fridge, you’ll eat good food.” Just ask any college student who’s survived on pasta for weeks at a time. Our meal plans will also tally up the amounts of fruit and vegetable servings, so you can easily meet your nutrition goals.

8. Look forward to your leftovers

No more sad tacos or boring sandwiches here. Our plans will calculate how many servings of leftovers you’ll have depending on your family size.

9. Spend more time with family and friends

Okay, so maybe you need to put in a little bit of time to plan your meals one day per week, but it will pay off in the long run. According to the USDA, Americans spend 33 minutes in food preparation on an average day (2). However, many working mothers prefer to spend less than 15 minutes to prepare a meal (3). Imagine the time saved each week if each meal took less than 15 minutes to prep? Woah. Instead of struggling in the kitchen, you’d be free to watch your teen star in their soccer game or help your eight-year-old with their homework. With our easy all-in-one weekly prep schedule, you’ll not only save time, but your kids will also learn skills to last a lifetime. Interested? Get started today with this meal plan from Garlic + Zest. Average prep time: only 15 minutes.

10. Your future-self will thank your past-self

Have you ever completed a project that took a little time up front, but afterwards thought to yourself, “Thank goodness I did that, my life is so much easier now!” You’re welcome, future-self. Though we typically have efficiency tools to help us be more productive at work, we don’t necessarily use them at home. In addition to helping you choose your meals for the week, EatLove offers a simple weekly prep schedule so you can plow through a list of slicing, dicing, and chopping ahead of time on Sunday.

Did I convince you to embrace meal planning yet? I hope so. Drop me a line on Twitter to let me know what YOU cherish most about meal planning.

Love the idea, but not sure where to start? Luckily, we’ve got you covered there too. Happy planning!

References

  1. Flick, L. (2015, April 22). America’s $165 Billion Food-Waste Problem. Retrieved February 3, 2016, from http://www.cnbc.com/2015/04/22/americas-165-billion-food-waste-problem.html
  2. Hamrick, K.S., Andrews, M., Guthrie, J., Hopkins, D. and McClelland, K. (2011, November). USDA: How Much Time Do Americans Spend on Food? Retrieved February 3, 2016, from http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/149404/eib86.pdf
  3. Freeland-Graves, J.H. and Nitzke, S. “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Total Diet Approach to Healthy Eating. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 113 (2013):307-317.

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