You know that proper nutrition is essential for a long and happy life for you and your family. But because you are so pressed for time, you wind up resorting to living off of fast food takeaway meals and frozen foods far more often than you’d care to admit. It’s a common problem, especially in busy households when you have to balance career and taking care of family.
Rather than wasting money on meals obtained on the quick from restaurants or your favorite supermarket freezer case, you can save a great deal if you instead plan ahead and prepare healthier food. Junk food will be less of an influence in your life once you have a solid plan for meals each week.
1. Benefits of Meal Planning
Planning all or most of your family’s meals provides a number of benefits that you’ll want to take advantage of. For one, preparing wholesome food eliminates unhealthy food choices. If you don’t buy junk food and refrain from cooking food that’s made from low quality ingredients, it boosts the nutritional profile of each meal.
Meal planning is great for your budget too. You can purchase items in bulk when they go on sale or when they are cheapest because they are in the height of season. A second freezer in your garage serves to store extra items you buy in larger quantities to take advantage of discounts.
It’s also worth noting that meal plans help you stay organized. You will purchase just what you need since you know how much to put into each dish.
Since you have a better idea of what ingredients you need for the week because of the meal plan, you won’t have to run out to the store to find one item for a spontaneously prepared dish. All items will be stored in your pantry or refrigerator already.
Families often find it useful to cook a few big meals on the weekend, to allow for leftovers to be used in lunches later in the week. You can cook a big meal to eat Sunday plus other dishes to cool or freeze for mid-week dinners.
Another benefit of meal planning is it makes things easier when cooking for people with special dietary restrictions, such as a doctor-ordered, low-sodium diet or when catering to people who are vegetarian/vegan or have religious restrictions on what they eat.
2. Create a Meal Planning Schedule Today
Once you realize the benefits of meal planning for your family, it’s important for you to really focus on how to include these plans in weekly schedule that’s easy to understand and follow.
Chances are that you already have at least a few meals that you’d like to keep in your usual rotation. Fish on Fridays, pizza on the first Saturday of the month and chicken dinners on Sunday are examples of patterns you might fall into. If you time your shopping visits to whatever day or days of the week that your local supermarket announces sales and coupons, you can take advantage of these discounts to stock up.
When you make a meal plan, it’s an opportunity to expand your culinary options. Maybe you will devote one night per week to trying a brand new recipe, such as a favorite restaurant dish that you’ve been dying to try at home.
Sit down with your family, looking at recipes in different categories for inspiration. Cooking shows on TV are also invaluable for finding inspiration when setting up a new meal plan.
Create a chart for the kitchen to remind you about which meals need to be made and when. You can also use the calendar app on your smartphone or computer to write down the meals and what ingredients need to be purchased that week.
3. You’ll Be Glad You Planned Ahead for Healthier Mealtimes!
The time you set aside to plan for and then prepare meals for the whole family will pay off greatly in terms of happiness, health and more time spent together with your loved ones.
You’ll be satisfied in knowing that you’ve produced fare this is both nutritional and economical. As long as you stay organized and keep on top of your food preparation schedule, you will be bound to have tastier meals that make home life all the more pleasant and relaxing.