Hello Fancy Lacy Community,
Throughout the month of November my husband and I planned our meals on a weekly basis. Although meal planning isn’t a novelty, I somehow never thought of integrating it into our routine. Live and learn, I guess. It was a good way to see how well we could make plans and follow through with them, and also to see how scheduled meals would affect our daily life. The experiment was a success and we’re going to continue with this practice for weeks to come.
I’m actually so pleased with how meal planning has turned out for us that I have lovingly labeled its benefits as “miracles”.
Miracle 1. Leave the stress behind.
As is usually the case in our fast-moving lives, little thought is given to food before your stomach starts growling. And then come last minute decisions that tend to be unhealthy and soon fill you with guilt and regret, all because they put you in a very awkward situation: either you eat something bad because you are too hungry to cook anything decent, or the pantry/fridge supplies are running low leaving you with few ingredients to fix a healthy meal. Both scenarios are stressful; however, both can be avoided with careful planning. Every weekend, my husband and I sit down and discuss our meal options for the following week. We try to make our menu diverse, alternate simple and more sophisticated dishes, and also make one bigger meal to stretch over the course of two days. That way, we know exactly what we are eating during the week, get the needed groceries beforehand and enjoy our meals stress-free.
Miracle 2. Plan well – eat well.
I hate getting really hungry because I stop thinking rationally – my primitive instincts take over and urge me to overeat or turn to unhealthy food. Hunger in itself is not an issue; it’s how well prepared you are to respond to it that makes the difference. Without a plan in the moments of weakness you’re more likely to choose wrong. Meal planning helps me stay on track: with a set healthy menu for the week, I feel a sense of direction and act accordingly. Since junk food is not part of the plan, there are very few temptations. I’m programmed to do well and I do well – it’s that easy.
Miracle 3. Shop smart.
Just like many other people, I don’t mind grocery shopping. Sometimes I even enjoy it. My husband, on the other hand, is hardly a fan of shopping. He must have been literally subjected to mental torture when we used to slowly walk up and down the aisles in search of ingredients for hypothetical meals. Not surprisingly, we ended buying stuff that we didn’t need – thus adding an unnecessary expense – and not getting what we actually needed. However, as of last month, our approach to grocery shopping has changed: our shopping lists are now based completely on the menu we’ve decided on, and we practically storm through the grocery store, ticking the items off the list. We occasionally buy things that weren’t planned for – to have extra food on hand in case we have company or if we decide to tweak the menu a little. During the week, we use up what we have, plan meals for the new week and buy more groceries. Because our purchases are carefully planned, we spend money more efficiently.
FYI, you can find a variety of meal planning templates and shopping lists online. They are very convenient!
Miracle 4. Reduce food waste.
For a while, our fridge used to be so full that we couldn’t tell what groceries we had until they were past their expiry date. Since we started planning our meals, we have been wasting significantly less food, if any at all. All because we plan the week’s menu and then buy our groceries based on the upcoming meals. Everything we buy is used during the week, so nothing goes to waste. If you find yourself throwing out rotten fruit and vegetables, and mouldy leftovers, it’s definitely worth considering meal planning. You’ll start saving your food, which will translate into saving money.
Miracle 5. Make it a family project.
I am especially pleased with the fact that both my husband and I participate in the process: we negotiate meal choices, brainstorm the shopping list and pick up groceries together. If you have kids, meal planning is a great way to include them: let them express their tastes and preferences, and educate them about the importance of eating well. Involve them in the meal preparation process, too. What they will learn from this will help shape their future eating habits for years to come.
Think ahead, plan your meals, and save your food, money, time, and health!
Thank you for reading,