Two little lists I make each week helps me make progress on several of my bigger goals. That’s the power of meal planning.
Every week, I outline my meals for the week and make a grocery list — and those two actions on Saturday morning kick off a week of good habits that help me achieve many of the goals I set for myself.
We’ve Got Big Goals
What are the biggest goals people set for themselves? It isn’t usually about being organized when they go to the store or plan their meals. People are usually thinking about bigger things:
- Saving money
- Losing weight
- Improving relationships
- Maximizing time
Those goals are big. They can definitely be tackled, but they take a lot of effort. They feel a little overwhelming. When I start with something simpler, like meal planning, I am able to feel like I’m also making progress on some of those bigger things.
Making a weekly meal plan and grocery list is one of my ways of gaining control over many different aspects of life. I’ve been meal planning for years. I first started when I was trying to eat healthy, ensuring I had meals to make at home all week rather than opting for the easier option of less healthy take-out. Then, when saving money became a bigger priority, I saw how powerful meal planning could be to save my household hundreds of dollars a month.
Using meal planning to achieve these goals actually led to so much more than eating healthier or saving money though. The benefits spiraled. However, meal planning takes time, motivation and discipline.
How Meal Planning Helps
Here are the many ways meal planning helps improve my life:
- Saving Money: The more I plan, the more I save. Taking Saturday morning to map out what we’re going to eat for the week helps me be super intentional about what I put into my basket at the grocery store and reduces food waste almost completely. By planning easy meals and writing them on a white board in my kitchen, I have very little excuse not to make the meal at the end of the day, reducing extra trips to the store, takeout or going out to eat – all so much more money than simply following my plan.
- Eating Healthier: Let’s see, when do you think I make better decisions. Saturday morning or at the end of a long work day between dance carpools. That’s right. I’m in such a better, healthier mindset on a Saturday or Sunday morning when I plan my week and go to the store versus a crazy weeknight at 5 pm. I have more space to think of meals that are both healthy and family-friendly.
- Improving Relationships: When meals are planned and time has been taken to prepare them, we are so much more likely to sit down at the table and eat as a family. This leads to such better connection, more shared information about our days and a lot more fun. These years are short and I want my family to remember our fun times around the table.
- Maximizing Time: I’m a mom and a business owner. I am trying to juggle so many things, and inevitably they drop. But I have to say, when I am disciplined about meal planning, family dinner isn’t the thing that drops. Not only do I save time by not going to the store multiple times per week and spending less time in the store because of an organized grocery list, I also save the mental energy each day of coming up with meals to prepare. When I have everything in the house to make the meals, my husband can also much more easily pick up the dinner prep when I’m too busy. Often, if he’s home before me, he’s getting dinner going because I prepared on the weekend.
Do you guys meal plan? What tips do you have to make it easier?