Think meal planning is a waste of time? Think again! Meal planning can save you time and money, be better for your health AND SO MUCH MORE. Read on for 20 Reasons Why You Need To Start Meal Planning…
1. Meal planning saves you money
For me this is the most convincing reason of all. How many times do you find that you get to the end of the week and you have to throw out food that’s gone bad? That’s actually money you are throwing in the bin, people!
How many times do you get to the end of the day with no plan for dinner and you just think “Ach – I can’t be bothered to think about dinner, let’s just get a takeaway / eat out / grab a ready meal.”?
If you meal plan (well!), you only buy what you need for the week. You don’t end up wasting food (and therefore money), and you don’t shell out unnecessarily for expensive takeaways, meals out and ready meals.
Depending on how much food you waste and how much you spend on impromptu takeaways and expensive ready meals, the savings can be HUGE! (Recent figures show that in the UK alone we waste over £13 BILLION worth of food a year!!)
2. Meal planning means you eat more healthily
Obviously this one does depend on what you actually put on your meal plan!! But in general most of us are more quite a lot more sensible when we’re planning our meals ahead of time, than when we are HUNGRY and just want something to eat RIGHT NOW – I know I am!
Put me in a supermarket when I am hungry and it’s late, and I am likely to buy something with lots of calories and E numbers. But on a Monday night when I sit down to plan my weekly shop and buy my groceries online, I will mostly buy sensible healthy things…and then when it’s time to cook the meal I’ve planned, I am quite unlikely to rip up the plan and order takeaway, when I know all the lovely healthy ingredients are sitting in my fridge waiting to be used.
3. Meal planning saves you time
It can feel like meal planning takes a lot of time, but I promise it will actually save you time in the long run!
If you spend a few minutes planning out what you will eat and writing a shopping list, you will save so much time in the supermarket (or doing your online shop) as you can stride round purposefully ticking off everything on your list, rather than dithering and being distracted by all the offers and standing there in the middle of the supermarket trying to remember all the ingredients for your spaghetti bolognese and which ones you already have at home.
Plus meal planning also meals fewer trips to the shops to top up on things you have forgotten to buy and less time spent pondering what to eat each evening.
In fact, if you take meal planning to the next level and create a monthly meal plan, you can save some serious time. Once your monthly meal plan and weekly shopping lists are created, you can simply reuse the monthly meal plan over and over again, just making a few small changes each week depending on what you’ve got going on and what you’ve already got in your cupboards.
No time to create a monthly meal plan? I’ve made one for you! CLICK HERE to download a copy of my FREE 4 Week Easy Dinners Meal Plan today!
4. Meal planning means less stress
Having to think on your feet every evening and come up with an interesting and delicious dinner is stressful. Having to dash out to the shops every other night because you are missing an essential ingredient is stressful. And having to do all of that with young kids in tow is even more stressful.
Having a plan for your meals for the week leaves you feeling confident and organised. Knowing exactly what you are having for dinner every night means you don’t have to even think about dinner until it’s time to start making it…and when you do, you know exactly what you’re making and how long it will take and be confident that you have all the ingredients on your kitchen – so you can just enjoy cooking with no worries or stress!
5. Meal planning means more variety in Your diet
Do you find yourself cooking the same handful of meals again and again?
When you don’t have much of a plan, it’s easy to fall back on your old faithfuls and this can often mean you end up eating the same few meals week in week out…
Having a meal plan means you can add lots of interest and variety into your diet. When your meal planning day comes round – slot one or two new recipes you’d like to try in first and then plan your old faithfuls around them.
If the new recipes work well and your family likes them, they can be added into your regular meal planning recipe bank. If you have created a monthly meal plan, that doesn’t mean you can’t chop and change what’s in it every now and again – every time you find a new family favourite, swap it in for one you’re not enjoying so much any more.
6. Meal planning means less food waste
I’ve mentioned this already, but I think it deserves its own entry because we all waste so much food!!! In the UK, for example, we waste over 4 BILLION TONNES of edible food every year!
And yep, we all know we shouldn’t, but we all do it!
Meal planning drastically reduces food waste – and I mean drastically! If you plan properly and write a good shopping list, then quickly run round your kitchen crossing off everything you already have in your cupboards before heading off to the shops, you will only buy what you need and you will find you hardly waste a thing.
And the more you get used to meal planning, the more you will you get into the swing of things and the less you will waste (and so the more money you will save – yey!).
7. Meal planning means you never have to pop to the shops just before dinner with hungry kids in tow
Do I need to say more? If you have kids, you will probably have done this and vowed never to do it again…
But without a proper plan…it’s pretty inevitable you will have to make a last minute trip to the shops with your kids, either to get something vital that you’ve forgotten for the meal you want to make…or to buy all the ingredients for the entire meal, depending on your usual level of planning…it’s no fun and, if you are anything like me, you are likely to make bad decisions based on your hunger, their hunger and your stress levels!!
8. Meal planning means you never again have to resort to toast/cereal/mars bar for dinner
Haha – we’ve all been there, haven’t we? It’s late, you’re hungry, you have no proper food in your cupboards and so you decide to eat toast…or cereal…or a mars bar for dinner! Having a good meal plan, means this never has to happen (unless you want it too, of course!!).
9. Meal planning means you finally get round to trying the meals you’ve always wanted to try!
You see a great recipe in a magazine or on the internet that you’d love to try out…but somehow you never get round to it. Sound familiar?
But once you start meal planning it’s easy to slot them in. Cut those magazine recipes out, bookmark those websites (or even better start a Pinterest board of all the recipes you’d like to try) and then next time you write out your meal plan include one or two of your new recipes.
10. Meal planning means you always know what’s for dinner
This is a nice feeling, no? Without a plan it is easy to spend all day stressing about what to eat for dinner. With a meal plan you always know exactly what you are going to make and can plan accordingly. It also means you can get organised and remember to defrost whatever you need from the freezer, put everything in the slow cooker before you head off to work, or whatever else you need to do ahead of time.
11. Meal planning means everyone else knows what’s for dinner too!
No more cries of “Muuuum – what’s for dinner?” You can just smile sweetly and direct them to the meal plan you have printed out and stuck to your fridge door…eventually they’ll learn not to ask you!! 😉
12. Meal planning means you can use your slow cooker
Hands up who has a slow cooker sitting in a drawer somewhere that never actually sees the light of day, because you only ever start thinking about dinner an hour before you need to make it, by which time it’s waaay too late to use your slow cooker?
Having a meal plan means you can plan in a few of those slow cooker recipes you’ve been meaning to make and actually make them! (Top tip – set a reminder on your phone to pop the ingredients in your slow cooker at the right time, so you don’t forget and end up having to eat toast for dinner!)
13. Meal planning means you can batch cook…
Meal planning also means you can plan in a few times a week where you cook extra for the freezer – it’s so simple, just double up on quantities and then pop the extra in the freezer for another day. Just remember to label the containers with what’s in them and when you made it!
14. …and actually remember to eat the meals in your freezer!
Anyone here got a load of plastic tubs in the freezer that you made in a fit of batch cooking one day three months ago and are now just cluttering up the freezer and you never actually get round to eating them? Yep, I was guilty of that too in my pre meal planning days.
Now I actually plan those meals in for busy days when I know I won’t get a lot of time to cook. It is so nice knowing that, not only is dinner planned, but also all you have to do is defrost and reheat something – total bliss on a crazy busy weeknight!
15. Meal planning means only one trip a week to the shops every week
Without a plan it is inevitable that you will end up popping into the shops two, three or even more times every week. For some people that might be fun, but for most of us it’s a chore we’d rather not have! Having a plan means you can literally buy everything you need for a whole week in one go.
OK, so there are one or two things which might not last a whole week in the fridge, but these days most things will last a week if you store them right…and anything that just won’t (like bread and meat, for example) can be frozen and defrosted when you need it.
16. Meal planning means fewer impulse purchases
If you are going to the shops less often, and when you do you are armed with a killer shopping list, you are FAR LESS LIKELY to buy random things on impulse…which are usually either unhealthy or things you never actually get round to eating…meaning you are saving yet more money and eating more healthily too – yey!
17. Meal planning makes internet shopping much easier and quicker
If you have a good meal plan and a corresponding shopping list, shopping online becomes a breeze – now I have my meal plans and master shopping lists written out, it literally takes me about 20 minutes – 5 minutes to plan which meals I am going to have on which days, 5 minutes to whizz round my kitchen with my shopping list crossing off the things I don’t need and adding in any extras, and 10 minutes to do the actual shop on my computer. I can’t begin to tell you how nice it is not to be spending all Monday evening battling away with my online shop!
18. Meal planning means you can make the kind of meals you always wished you had time for
Did you have dreams and visions of yourself Nigella-like whipping up delicious and healthy meals for your family, only to find yourself dishing up frozen pizza, fish fingers and chicken nuggets most nights? With a good meal plan you can become that person you always dreamed you’d be!
19. Meal planning means your cupboards won’t be overflowing
If you haven’t written a list or checked your cupboards to see what you’ve got, it’s quite easy to end up buying things you’ve already got. Not only does this mean you end up wasting money, but it also means your cupboards end up overflowing with all the duplicates.
If you write out a plan and check your cupboards first before you go to the shops then you will know exactly what you do and don’t need when you get to the shops, and you won’t end up having bulging cupboards full of things you don’t need (plus you’ll have more money in your pockets rather than being tied up in tins of beans and packets of rice!).
20. Meal planning means you are far less likely to forget things
How often have you found yourself midway through cooking a meal, only to discover you have forgotten to buy one crucial ingredient? I know I’ve had this happen to me more times than I’d care to mention! Cue a quick phone call to my other half to get something from work, a quick dash to the shops with my (hungry and annoyed) kids in tow, or if those things are not possible, just ending up eating a very bizarre meal of curry with toast, because I forgot to buy rice! If you have a plan, and a good shopping list to go with it you will be less likely to forget things meaning you are far less likely to have to eat curry and toast (believe me it’s not a good combo!).
Need inspiration for your meal plans? Check out my Recipe Index – full of easy and delicious dinner ideas.
Wish someone would just wave a big magic wand and do all the meal planning and shopping list creation for you? Your wish is my command! CLICK HERE to download a copy of my FREE 4 Week Easy Dinners Meal Plan today!
Happy meal planning!
Pin this post for later
Don’t want to miss a thing?
Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Or why not subscribe to my blog and get delicious, stress free recipes straight to your inbox every week?
Rebecca Smith says
Oh Eb! I really, really need to do this and in an ideal world this would be awesome, but my gut tells me that Autism and Type 1 Diabetes may get in the way….I’ll slap myself round the face, tell myself to stop being so negative and pessimistic and download the planner….I’ll keep you posted sweetie xxx
Eb Gargano says
Oh sweetie – I am in awe of everything you do manage to do, given the huge challenges life has thrown at you! I hope the meal planner is useful to you. Type 1 Diabetes is not something I know a lot about, so I am not sure how suitable the recipes in my planner are. But you know my recipes are mostly gluten free or easily adaptable, so hopefully it will be helpful. Eb x
Jo / Jo's Kitchen Larder says
Fantastic post Eb! There are so many pros for meal planning and you definitely got them all bang on! 🙂 I am definitely going to make conscious effort to plan my meals better and shop better too (I’m one of these people with lots of duplicate store cupboard ingredients and overflowing larder)! Love your 4 week meal plan and super helpful shopping list btw and can see myself making lots of your lovely dishes. Will be writing my first meal plan for next week today, wish me luck! 🙂 x
Eb Gargano says
Aw, thanks Jo! 🙂 It’s so easy to end up buying extra ‘just in case’ only to come home and discover you already had 5 in your cupboard, isn’t it? Thanks so much for your kind comments about my meal plans – hope your meal planning goes well!! Do let me know what you think if you try any of my recipes 😀 Eb x
Becca Farrelly says
I absolutely love meal planning and I don’t know how we functioned properly before it! Its great to sit down on a Sunday and plan the week knowing that each day I don’t have to come up with a meal or nip to the shops again. I go food shopping once a week and get everything we need and that’s it! What I lack now is inspiration so I’m going to have a look at yours and note down some meals! 🙂
Eb Gargano says
I so agree about meal planning – it’s just awesome once you get into the swing of things…exactly like you I wonder how I ever managed before! Hope you find lots of inspiration in my meal plans 🙂 Eb x
Angela / Only Crumbs Remain says
Such a useful post Eb. A you say I think most people know the main reasons why we should meal plan – but it’s definitely great to have a reminder. I’ve got my notebook and pen at myside and thanks to your post I’m now going to resume doing a weekly meal plan! I think we’ll start with homemae pizza because I already have everything in the cupboard (& fridge) for that (along with 10 further tins of tomatoes which will cover us for goodness knows how many weeks!)
Eb Gargano says
Thanks Angela! So pleased I’ve inspired you 😀 Haha – I know what you mean about tinned tomatoes…I so tend to buy way more than we need because they are so handy for ’emergencies’ – like when dinner plans fall through – I can quickly whip up ‘tomato pasta’, so I like to keep plenty in stock ‘just in case’! And I remember as a student they were the basis almost every single meal. 😀 Happy meal planning! Eb x
I love meal planning and agree with you on saving time, money and eating well! We eat a more varied diet, too when we plan our weekly meals. #brillblogposts
Eb Gargano says
Meal planning is awesome, isn’t it? I honestly don’t know how I managed before – love how much time and money can be saved 🙂 Eb x
Michelle Frank | Flipped-Out Food says
I can’t imagine my life without meal planning. I used to waste so much food and money before I started doing it! And it’s so important that kids grow up on home-cooked food rather than a fast-food diet. I already downloaded your 4 week easy dinners meal plan and it looks just fantastic. It’s such a great resource, and FREE! SCORE!
Eb Gargano says
Thank you so much for your kind words about my meal plans! 😀 I am so with you on encouraging kids to eat home-cooked food – sure we go out to eat and get the occasional takeaway…but for a treat! Not an every day thing. I’m really pleased that my kids are showing a healthy interest in learning to cook their own food too. My little boy (aged 7) helped me make my Chicken Rogan Josh the other day. He was so proud of himself…and needless to say he ate it all up happily! Eb x
I do quite a bit of my grocery shopping online and I thought that was organised! 😉 This is a great idea and such a time saver!
Eb Gargano says
Thanks so much Nicole! Yes I do pretty much all my grocery shopping online too – it’s so much quicker once you get into the swing of things. If I use my meal plans and shopping lists it takes 20 minutes – it used to take me hours (literally) before I started meal planning! Eb x
Jacqui Bellefontaine says
Oh my I am so impressed with all the hard work you have put into this to save other time. I no longer do a big weekly shop, now having no less then local sainsburys/tesco stores within a 5 minute walk so I tend to buy most of my food daily which means less waste. But when the boys were younger it was a different story and b meal planning was much more important for all the reasons you mention. Perhaps I should start doing it again for the simple reason of slipping in those dishes that I keep meaning to try. Your giveaway 4 week plan is brilliant lots of things on that i would like to try
Eb Gargano says
Thanks Jacqui! I do think you are right that meal planning is definitely something that is more relevant to some than others…for some regularly going shopping is a joy and not a chore, and it is probably less important if you are cooking for 1 or 2 than if you are cooking for a large family. Having said that, I think some of the reasons still stand no matter who you are – making healthier choices and getting round to cooking those recipes you always wanted to in particular! I’m really hoping my 4 week plan will help lots of people – either as it is, or as a jumping off point for people to then go on and create their own. I’m so glad you like it and especially that you like my recipes – do let me know what you think if you try any! Eb x
The Bearded Hiker says
Every reason you listed is exactly why we meal plan. I’ve always told my kids, “if you fail to plan you plan to fail” and when we fail to meal plan for the week, we are a couple of sad messes. Especially since we work from home, we have to plan three meals everyday. Meal planning makes that way easier. Planning and embracing leftovers. We’ll turn supper into some omelet the next morning or stick it in a tortilla for lunch.
Eb Gargano says
That is such a great quote and so true! I am exactly the same if I don’t meal plan…and I am so with you on the leftovers thing. So many great things you can do with them. I often have dinner leftovers for lunch as I work from home this is really easy. Like today, for example, I had leftover peri peri chicken and rice…just heated up in my oven for 20 minutes – beats a sandwich I can tell you!! Eb 🙂
Lisa Pomerantz says
We really need to do this! I am so tired of getting home from work and having no clue, inclanation of what to eat or what we have to offer! Thank you! I will try this! I really will. It’s on my bucket list for this year, which is leaving fast! #brillblogposts
Eb Gargano says
Oh you so do! You won’t regret it. It is so nice to come home and know exactly what you are cooking and that all the ingredients are in your kitchen. Stay tuned as I am currently working on another post with lots more help on how to actually make this happen. Once you get into the habit of meal planning it becomes so much easier…and can even be fun! Eb x