Thursday, December 8, 2016

Meal Planning Benefits and Tips [The Hood Magazine]


By: Shaina Herrmann
Originally published in The Hood Magazine

Have you ever given meal planning a try? Our family has been using meal plans for the past seven years. Recently, I gave the 8-week meal plan a try and it has been working beautifully for our family. Your meal plans can be one week, two weeks, four, eight, or even longer if you desire.  You can choose to do one big monthly grocery trip or go once or twice a week.  Choose a plan that you know will work for your family.  There are numerous benefits to planning your meals ahead!

Top Benefits to Meal Planning:

  • No more stressful evenings spent wondering what to make for your family!
  • There are a couple different ways that it prevents you from going over your food budget.  1. It’s so easy to pick up fast food on the way home from work or an event, but when you have a plan for dinner you are less likely to give in to the temptation. 2. Having a plan means more efficient and less frequent grocery shopping trips. You and create your lists ahead of time and know exactly what you  need when you enter the store each week.
  • You are able to incorporate healthier meals into your routine.
  • Planning ahead gives you the opportunity to search and clip only the coupons that you know you are going to use.

Top Meal Planning Tips:

  • Create a master meal list of meals that you regularly make for your family.  Ask members of your family to contribute their favorite meals to the list.   You will use this list to refer to each time you create a meal plan.
  • Use up what you have first.  Shop your pantry before making your weekly or monthly plan.  
  • Choose one meat per week.  Cook a large batch early in the week to use throughout the week for separate meals.
  • For a more affordable weekly meat option, incorporate meals with canned tuna, deli meats, or a rotisserie chicken.
  • Take into account birthdays, anniversaries, and other events that will disrupt your regular routine. You don’t want to accidently buy ingredients to use on a night that you are not going to be home.
  • Find a few meatless meals that you can make each week to save on the cost of meat. This could be a pasta meal, soup, or breakfast for dinner - pancakes or french toast.
  • If you like to visit restaurants regularly, choose a few that will fit into your food budget and work them into your plan.

If you’ve never tried meal planning but would like to give it a try, start with just one week’s worth of plans and see how it goes! You’ll quickly see the many benefits to planning meals ahead and it may become part of your regular routine.

Visit The Hood Magazine for more family-centered articles, delicious recipes, and helpful tips for parents. 

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