Why meal planning matters
Meal planning is important no matter what your lifestyle or diet looks like - kids, single, cooking for two, vegan, keto, you name it! Why? Because meal planning is the most critical step in taking control of what you’re eating, the money you are spending on food, and the time you spend on meals.
Meal planning doesn’t have to be complicated! One of my favorite things to remind our members is that take-out, frozen food, leftovers - they are ALL part of the plan. It doesn’t mean you are cooking every meal, it just means you have a plan.
When it comes to meal planning for your family, there are four major benefits: health, time, money, and connection.
Health: When you mean plan, you take control over what your family is eating. Eating out is great! Enjoying a convenience item (frozen nuggets, anyone?) is sometimes needed. The thing about making a plan is that you see it all there at one time. Seeing your cumulative menu for the week helps you understand your diet better, and helps you decide where to make changes. It also forces you to plan from a portion perspective. Families who eat at home together at least three times a week make better portion control decisions and overall better nutritional decisions. You don’t have to plan the “healthiest” thing every meal - but eating at home more often can make a huge impact on your family’s health. I recommend cooking 3-5 times per week, and eating out or eating convenience food 1-2 times per week; fill in the gaps with leftovers and no-cook meals.
Time: Meal planning can save SO much time! You only need to think once about meals for the week, instead of pondering it every day. And, when you have a strategic plan, you can save time by planning meals that are re-makes, or “cook once, eat twice”, or “prep once, eat twice”. This can save a ton of time during the week.
Money: Making a home cooked meal saves the average family of four $30 per meal. That means if you cooked at home just one more night a week, you could save over $1,500 per year. To cook at home more, you need to be meal planning. When you meal plan, you will also save money at the grocery store, and waste less food (which saves money).
Connection: Connecting as a family is the biggest benefit of meal planning to me. Kids who eat with their families at least three times per week have better academic performance, and fewer social and emotional health concerns. Turning off electronics and spending those 20-30 minutes together (or an hour if you have a slow eater), provides real face time and opportunity to talk and connect as a family. It builds your bonds, relationship, and trust.
I know coming up with what to put on your meal plan can be a pain, and that’s why I created Pantry to Plate. I believe so much in the power of families eating together more often, that I want to make it as EASY as possible! Try our free 2-week meal plan and see what it can be like to have a meal plan, grocery list, and recipes all done and organized for you. Just click here to get started.