The Benefits of Meal Planning
I had heard of the concept of meal planning, but it wasn’t until Emily Ley had a whole chapter dedicated to meal planning in her book, A Simplified Life that I became inspired to put it into action and try to figure out a process of meal planning that would work for Jordan and I. I remember asking him if he would be down to try it. He was on board and we have been doing it ever since!
It’s been well over a year since we started meal planning and I can tell you that we have yet to perfectly execute it. It’s kind of like a budget. Life happens and you will need to make some changes and do some rearranging as the weeks go by. I can tell you now, you probably won’t make a perfect meal plan right out of the gate!
How we meal plan in the Pedersen household
I am a huge fan of Dropbox. Jordan and I have a shared folder with our meal plan document in it. We use a Microsoft Word file for our meal plan. We meal plan for two weeks’ worth of meals. Here are steps we take to plan:
- Copy and paste a fresh template twice and put dates of the next two weeks above them
- Go through your calendar and note if you will be eating out for certain occasions so you don’t plan a meal for that day. There are days that Jordan might have lunch catered in at work or I will be at an event that will be providing lunch or dinner. Also list any social events that will have food.
- Now plan the meals around those events
- Try to plan meals with ingredients you already have home
- Attempt to plan an array of meals that entail similar ingredients that way you aren’t buying so many different things
- Once you have the meal plan created, check your kitchen to see what ingredients you already have and then make your grocery list with the things that you need to get
- We have a dry erase calendar in our kitchen that I write our meal plan on so we can easily see what we are supposed to have, what’s coming up, and what we may need to meal prep for!
The beauty of online grocery pick-up
Earlier this year, we were at the grocery store on a Sunday after church and I came to the conclusion that grocery shopping on a Sunday afternoon is one of my least favorite things to do in the world! There are way too many people, I am constantly in the way of everyone, and it feels like it takes forever to make our way through the store to get what we need.
So, we decided to start doing online grocery pickup! Most stores offer this service and it’s pretty convenient. The store we use, we need to schedule it in advance if we want to pick it up on a Sunday after church. So, Jordan will typically order it by Friday and schedule it for Sunday.
We haven’t noticed any extra fees doing this!
The timeline of meal planning
Because of advanced scheduling, I typically try to go in and format the meal plan, make note of work and social events, and start putting in meal ideas by Wednesday/Thursday. That way Jordan can look it over, add to it, finalize it, and put the grocery order in by Friday for pickup on Sunday.
Benefits of meal planning
There are a lot of benefits to meal planning:
- It helps you to cook for yourself and eat at home rather than eat out
- It saves you time when you know what you are having and you are less tempted to eat out when you have decision fatigue
- Taking it a step further by meal prepping saves you even more time!
- Online grocery shopping can help you save money because you can see what you are spending and cut back if you are going over budget and you aren’t tempted to make impulse purchases while walking through the aisles!
Overall conclusion: It saves you a lot of time, energy, and money!
But like anything worth doing to save time and money, it does take work and planning! But once you get the hang of it, it will get easier and you will find a system that works for you!