Do you meal plan? Or are you ‘afraid’ to try it? Do you think it’ll be labor-intensive and boring? Believe me, I’ve been there. But hear me out.
We started meal planning a long while (over two years?) ago. I was reluctant for a very long time to try it because we used to fall into the “I want to eat what I feel like”-camp. I thought that meal-planning would feel very restrictive and that we’d be ending up having to eat things we didn’t want to eat all the time. And who wants that, right?
Meal planning has been a fantastic experience for so many reasons (here are a few):
1) I actually enjoy the process of writing our shopping list (LISTS! I don’t care what kind.. I like them all!) and planning out our meals helps so much to be more specific about what goes on the list. We usually shop at 3-4 stores and every Saturday morning, we go over which staples need to be restocked, dairy and produce for the week, and everything else we need for our meals.
2) We don’t have to think about what to make for dinner. We just pick from the list. Oh, the sanity and ease this has brought to our (weekday) evenings. No more arguing about “what’s for dinner?”, because we already know!
We plan 5-6 meals for a full week to leave some room for flexibility like eating leftovers, eating out, or just making a sandwich if we’re not that hungry. We also plan at least one meal that we can throw together from staples or stuff in the freezer, so it doesn’t matter if it gets eaten this week or if we push it back a week. We rarely ever stick to the actual day that we write the meal down for, but shuffling the meals around leaves enough flexibility to pick something for every night that we’re excited about.
3) We actually don’t end up eating what we don’t want to eat because it’s still us who are making the meal list. And honestly, who puts something on a meal list that they don’t like eating? Exactly. Duh! It was a totally irrational fear, I admit it.
4) We plan around sales and make sure that you always buy products at a low price. I’m not an obsessive extreme couponer (they scare me a little bit), but I do get a kick out of lowering my grocery bill by using sales and coupons. It’s really just the smart thing to do and technology makes it really easy for you these days. There’s not much coupon clipping involved if you don’t want to go there (although I still do that quite a bit, but really with very little expenditure of time. I will write about this in a later post.).
5) We hardly ever throw any food out. This is maybe not one of the most important reasons for everybody, but it is for me because I don’t like wasting food (have you watched the documentary “Just Eat It“ on MSNBC a few weeks ago? Mind-boggling! 30-40% of all grown/produced food goes to waste. A lot of it already on the fields – because it gets thrown out because of blemishes or because it doesn’t fit a certain size standard.
WHAT? – and also most of it at the homes of the end-consumer, because many people overbuy and then throw out food that they couldn’t use). Not wasting food also means we’re using everything that we’ve paid our hard-earned money for at the grocery store. It’s a win-win all around.
That subsequently also – in combination with 4) – keeps our grocery bill in check (at least that’s what I am telling myself. This might be a topic for a different blog post, since we apparently spend a lot of money for two people on food or let’s say ‘more than the average 2-person household). But I need to mention that, as I said, we pretty much eat everything we buy. Our culprit might be that we buy a lot of organic items and we do eat quite a bit of meat and dairy and I am not really trying very hard to plan ‘cheap meals’, I’m more concerned with a balanced diet.
I’ll tell you a bit more about the meals that we regularly prepare and our shopping habits in one of my next “daily life” posts.
Do you meal plan? Do you feel that it helps keep the grocery bill in check and that you don’t waste as much food?