I am (literally) in the middle of my Saturday afternoon ritual of meal planning for the upcoming week. I won’t pretend like planning the meals for the week is my ideal way to spend the oh-so-precious naptime lull (I see all you parents of young children involuntarily nodding your heads in agreement) on a Saturday afternoon, but I know if I don’t, I will pay for my laziness later on. So why do I find planning meals to be so important that I’m writing a blog post about it? Well, other than the fact that I am experiencing a bit of a creative block and I am procrastinating on figuring out what to plug in for next Saturday’s dinner on my menu, I have found that taking the time to thumb through cookbooks, search the internet, and jot down ideas has many benefits to both the amount of money in your wallet and your sanity by the end of the week.
1. I know exactly what to buy at the grocery store. I make my grocery list simultaneously as I plan my meals, so that I know exactly what we will need at the store and what we don’t. This stops me from aimlessly wandering the aisles of Sprouts and over buying because I have no idea what we will need. On the flip side, it also helps me not to under buy during my grocery story trip, thus eliminating several “quick trips” to the store midweek to pick up essentials for meals.
2. It provides a blueprint for the week. I don’t know about you, but at the end of a busy day, my creative juices are not flowing at their prime. On the weeks that I don’t meal plan, I find myself staring into the fridge and pantry with a zombie-like expression, trying to figure out what the heck to make for dinner. I find that those nights often end in toast or take-out for dinner, which is not ideal on the regular. With a meal plan, even if I’m not feeling inspired when dinner time rolls around, I know what I need to get cooking without the pantry stare-down.
3. It keeps all the “cooks in the kitchen” informed. I display my meal plan on the fridge so it is an obvious place for all to see. If my husband beats me home from work, he can look to see what the plan for dinner is and get it started while I battle San Diego rush hour traffic.
4. It saves money. Like I said in #1, I know exactly what to buy when I go to the store. If I am not buying every kind type of vegetable I lay my eyes on because “we might need it” and just buying what I know we need, then I won’t be adding to my grocery bill or the risk of having to chuck unused food that has gone bad.
5. It helps to add variety. We all have our tried-and-true, go-to recipes that we love. But if we make those dishes every week, chances are good that we are going to get sick of them. Pinterest or sticky notes in cookbooks are great for helping you make note of meals that you want to try so that you can work one or two new meals into menu a week and keep the meals ending up on your table fresh and exciting.