Have you ever wondered, “Why menu plan?” Someone recently found their way to this blog searching that exact thing and we all know if one person asks a question, someone else out there has the same one! So today we are going to talk about the benefits of meal planning!
People talk about menu planning all the time but does it really make a difference? What exactly are those benefits?
Strangely enough, this subject is something I actually get excited about simply because I strongly believe it has made a huge difference in my life. Meal planning is something that has been a part of how I run our home for 13 years now.
The time that I set aside to plan the menu and shopping list are a must do on my list for several reasons. Sure, if you are single or there’s just you and a spouse in the mix, you might be able to pull off not planning. However once you throw kids into the mix, which not only meals extra mouths to feed (and trust me, they never forget about eating) but also additional activities in your days, it just doesn’t work not to.
Let’s get to the benefits of meal planning and just why you should bother to take time out of your busy life to get it done!
3 Benefits of Meal Planning
Menu Planning Saves Money
Budgeting is something else that’s been so important in our house – it has enabled us to live within our means and save money. One great way to save money, is watching what you spend on groceries.
There is no way I’d be able to keep my grocery budget so low if I didn’t plan!
When making a menu plan, I primarily do 3 things:
- Check the fridge and pantry for ingredients that are going to need to be used.
- Check the grocery ads to see what’s on sale.
- Try and plan for the ingredients I purchase to be used in more than one meal to get the most bang for my buck.
Having a grocery list also means you spend less when you are at the store.
A menu plan means you avoid the 5pm “what’s for dinner” stress that causes a last minute grocery or restaurant run.
Menu Planning Saves Time
Let’s take this a step further. Meal planning saves me time (and stress). I’m not spending time every day (or every meal) trying to figure out what I’m going to make. Instead, I do all that thinking in an hour or so and then know exactly what is going to be happening for food each day.
Not only does planning once a week (or every other week if you prefer) save me time over having to come up with a plan daily, but I also spend less time on trips to the grocery store.
The third way menu planning saves time is because it allows me to use the tips in this post on how to spend less time in the kitchen! I can do the kitchen prep work in bulk over the weekend when I have a little extra time and can have leftovers built into my week.
Menu Planning Helps Me Eat Better
Without a meal plan, I would be much more likely to grab some pre-packaged freezer or convenience food. The chances for that unplanned run for take-out or fast food also increases! Neither of which are great on the budget or your health!
Obviously, we have nothing against restaurants. We indulge in a take out pizza on occasion and my husband enjoys Chick-Fil-A. But the majority of the time, I try to cook from scratch and avoid heavily processed foods when I feed my family. Isn’t it better to save those “cheat” meals for a real emergency or purposely plan them into your menu?
Throughout the year, I try to incorporate plenty of seasonal produce and the produce sales! When you plan your meals, you can see when you need to up your fruits and veggies! Planning also allows me to buy the basic, unprocessed ingredients in bulk and know that we will actually use the items up.
Feeding you family more nutrient dense food, saving money, and saving time and stress are 3 huge benefits of meal planning! Over the years I’m sure I’ve saved thousands of dollars by meal planning and many, many hours of time. Not only that, I don’t have the energy or creativity to pull off making an impromptu menu each day. 🙂
Has menu planning made a difference in your life? What other benefits of meal planning can you think of?
If you have yet to menu plan, I highly recommend you give it a try! Let me know if you have any questions!
Originally published March 26, 2015. Rewritten and updated graphics April 2020.
Great thoughts!! I go through spurts of planning and things are so much less stressful, and definitely healthier when I am planning ahead! Thanks for sharing at Inspire Me Mondays 🙂
Thanks for hosting, Emily! I agree, it’s so less stressful and I like only having to think about what I’m going to be making once every couple of weeks.
I couldn’t agree more, Deanna!
Menu planning isn’t always fun but it is one of the best stress, time, and money savers I have found.
Thanks so much for sharing this.
Thanks, Heather! I agree. It’s amazing what a difference it makes. When I put off doing it, it’s not fun!
I have to agree,
I do a simple themed same day every week meal plan but within it there is flexibility like Taco Tuesday can be any Mexican themed meal! Found you at Titus 2 Tuesday!
Ooo, that’s a fun idea! We used to do pizza night each week but that’s about as far as we took it for themes. I be the kids have their favorite nights. 🙂
I completely agree with you!! The only way my family can eat healthy is to plan!
Agreed! Planning is so important! Thanks for stopping by!
How do you successful plan your meals? I can sit down and plan a month’s worth of meals, but I can’t check the grocery store ads when I plan too far in advance. Do you just do this weekly? And do you have any tips on how I might be able to plan more than one week at a time.
Thank you! 🙂
I menu plan 2 weeks at a time. If there’s produce that I need that’s not on sale, I’ll often plan that meal for the second week just in case it’s on sale. Also, if there’s a great deal on produce/meat etc. for that second ad I’ll buy it and use it for snacks or whatever and then incorporate it into my next 2 weeks. (The same goes for if I find stuff marked down.) The majority of what I buy from the ads is meat or produce so it works well.
By the way, I love your name. 🙂 My sister down from me is named Andrea as well!
That completely makes sense. Thank you 🙂
And that’s too cool! I’m 22 and I’ve still only met a handful of Andrea’s! That’s one of the reasons I love it lol.
Same here, I’ve only met a couple other as well! I like names like that.
Menu planning and grocery shopping are my least favorite things of all time (I will clean all the bathrooms in the house just to procrastinate). BUT I force myself every single week to do it for all the reasons you stated and more. The main thing that finally gets me to do it each week (besides the fact that my family will need to eat the upcoming week) is I treat myself to a coke and a small bag of hershey kisses that I savor in the quiet car before driving home. Great article.