Ok, so I am a little late in getting out my New Year’s post, but it’s been fast and furious in our house. Between closing out work with a product launch in mid-December, the holidays, a family reunion and getting back to work with another product launch next week, I have been slammed. With so much going on, and setting goals for 2017, we need to do something to make our lives easier, especially when it comes to dinner. Not unlike many of you, planning and making dinner at home is one of the most stressful parts of my day. Add in a toddler who is a picky eater, and you have an evening that is sure to end in a bottle of wine! Well, that is simply not an option with my weight loss goals for this winter. So, with that, I am setting a goal to get better at meal planning. Not just for me, but for my entire family. Ideally, this meal planning will take the stress out of the day, and allow us to enjoy family meal time together.
What is Meal Planning
As the Kitchn says, “Cooking is easy, planning is hard.” Wow. This is so true. Even those of us who yearn to be in the kitchen still struggle with the planning for every night, much less for the week. Meal Planning allows you and your family to map out your daily meals over the week or even month (if you’re good), thereby taking out all of the daily stress of cooking and feeding your family.
Benefits of Meal Planning
- Saves you money – If you are cooking at home, you are saving money. Period. But on top of that, if you are planning your meals, you will make less impulse purchases at the grocery store, and save even more.
- Saves you time – Planning is an up front investment of time, as it is with anything. But a few minutes in advance will save you oodles of time everyday. My favorite time-saving meal is to make a simple smoothie for breakfast, perhaps the Orange Banana Green Smoothie. I know that this smoothie will keep me full all morning long, and I always have the ingredients on hand. It’s quick and easy to make, and it makes breakfast and the morning rush out the door so much smoother.
- Offers you a more efficient trip to the grocery store – I can’t stand when I forget to grab something at the store, and have to make an emergency run at the 11th hour. With meal planning, you can minimize your trips to the store, and maximize your shopping time.
- Allows you to spend less time in the kitchen – If you get good at it, meal planning will allow you to cook in batches, and cook ahead for future meals, even utilizing the freezer for storage. One of my favorite meals to make on a Sunday for the week ahead – our Clean Egg Muffins – 2 or 3 make a perfect lunch on the go!.
- Allows you to waste less food – This drives me nuts! I hate throwing out quality produce simply because we didn’t get around to using it. With meal planning, you will purchase what you plan to use, and because you have planned it, you are more likely to use it.
- Allows you to eat healthier food – Obviously at Focused on Fit, we are passionate about healthy eating. Meal planning and meal prep over the weekend ensures that you are more likely to meet your healthy eating goals throughout the week. We usually make big batches of food over the weekend to use all week, like our Indian-Spiced Brown Rice.
- Reduces your stress – Aaahhhh, this is THE biggest benefit for me, and probably every other working parent out there. Why stress over eating?! Plan out your meals in advance, watch the stress melt away, and enjoy time with your family!
Meal Planning Aides
With a little bit of research, I quickly realized I’m not the only one looking for help with meal planning! There are countless aides on the web, from simple, free, printable templates to more advanced meal planning apps and calendars for the entire family.
- Free Meal Planning Templates from Today’s Frugal Mom
- A Free Integrated Meal Planning Website from Cooking Light
- Free Meal Plans from the Kitchn, including a wide variety of cuisines
- A Healthy, Fresh Meal Planning Subscription from The Fresh 20 – only $14/month
- Another Meal Planning Subscription from eMeals – only $59/year
- An Online Menu Planner from Plan to Eat offers more control – $39/year
So with all of that research, what is my plan for 2017??!! I hope to try one of these meal planning aides and report back to all of you with my thoughts. It may be as simple as a printed out template with my ideas sketched out from week-to-week. But it’s a start, right? Weight loss starts in the kitchen, and my meals need to start with a better plan.