It is easy to think of the benefits of meal planning as just saving time and money but its benefits are more than that.
So, what are the benefits of meal planning?
By planning your meals you gain:
You simplify and improve your lifestyle!
We won’t lie to you, meal planning could be challenging and requires constancy.
Follow a simple meal planning approach and you'll notice these seven meal planning benefits in as little as two weeks.
A healthier diet must be one of the most important meal planning benefits. This is a great gain, especially if you are focusing on reducing weight or having a nutritionally balanced diet for you and your family.
The results from The Global Burden of Disease’s researches supports what nutritionists were promoting for years — a balanced diet is important for a long, healthy life.
A benefit like this is priceless!
Most of the people have a diet that is only based on meals they know how to cook, the ingredients available at the time of cooking or what is most convenient.
Cooking less at home and consuming ready meals may feel convenient but it limits you from benefiting from a good diet.
Planning your meals in advance ensures you carefully chose a well-balanced range of foods, giving you control in creating a balanced diet, also it guarantees that there is always good food available to cover for your and your family’s needs.
Don’t settle for second bests or even worst, unhealthy foods like processed or fast foods, instead consider planning meals that will support a healthier diet, so you can reap the benefits of it.
Our personal favorite is the benefit that meal planning has on family bonds. Meals are more than just food, meals should be moments to enjoy and share with family and meal planning definitely helps with that.
More parents realize this is a benefit but also agree on the importance of family time, specially at the dinner table, which is one of the few times where family members are together.
Family times are always precious times and meals can be experiences to strengthen family bonds, instead of being worried if your family will enjoy the meal or not. Take away the issue by planning easy-to-make but healthy meals you and your family will enjoy.
Meal times are supposed to be moments to share and enjoy but they could easily turn into frustration, particularly when there are different needs and tastes in the family.
By planning your meals, you set a small time apart to consider your family's needs and preferences. As a result you will not only provide healthy meals but also meals you will all like, making the whole process of meal preparation more rewarding and enjoyable.
To make the most of this benefit, experiment with few meals at the beginning and once you discover healthy meals you and your family likes then you are all set.
One more big gain of meal planning is reducing stress. Trying to reduce the complications of meal preparation is one the key reasons people start in planning their meals.
But, it is also true, that stressed parents are less likely to cook meals at home.
If you are a parent who is just starting in cooking, you might have this stressful challenge of providing healthy home meals while increasing your ability in meal preparation.
It is understandable most of us have been there before!
As a matter of fact even parents who have been cooking for long time might think that cooking is stressful.
But simple strategies like meal planning can help you make the process less stressful and with a bit of time and patience you will reduce the stress and enjoy not just the meals but also making them.
The key to this is to find an approach that works for you and your family, a simple approach that you can rely on, like planning and doing groceries every two week, or preparing the ingredients you need ahead of the cooking time.
Reducing waste is one of the meal planning benefits noticeable from the beginning. Planning meals helps you create a list of only the ingredients you need, so you won’t throw away ingredients you did not use. But also this benefit extends to reducing waste of prepared meals.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Association (FAO) has reported that the cost of global food wastage is estimated at US$940 billion annually.
Households also play a large part in the issue of food waste.
In Australia, households throw away 3.1 million tonnes of edible food, that’s close to 17,000 grounded 747 jumbo jets. The food waste costs to Australian households vary from $2,200 to $3,800 (Source Australia NATIONAL FOOD WASTE STRATEGY).
Now, think about that!
Needless to say, reducing waste helps the environment but it also have a more direct personal gain, since buying only ingredients we need and cooking meals we like, we avoid wasting our money and that guilty feeling of throwing away food.
Simply by estimating more accurate, how much of each ingredient you need to prepare your meals based on household size, will help you buy just what you need and prepare what you will consume.
Meal planning also give you the benefit of discovering new meals, so you don’t have to stick to the boredom of eating the same meals all the time.
You will be surprised to know that parents in average rely on just nine recipes to feed their families.
Is Spaghetti Bolognese one the meals you rely on to feed your family?
If your answer was yes, chances are you may have just another eight meals 😊 you usually cook.
A survey run by Merchan Gourment found that the top nine meals parents rely on are:
Don’t be discouraged of experimenting with new ingredients or meals, it does not have to be time-consuming or expensive. Instead plan a new recipe now and then, you can start with using same or similar ingredients you and your family likes.
When planning your meals think of the rewards that food variety will bring to you and start slowly introducing new meals in your plan.
You will benefit from food variety but also improve your skills.
Saving time is one of the most known meal planning benefits.
Time saving happens as a direct consequence of planning your meals. You can decide to do grocery shopping once every two weeks and known that you will have all the necessary to prepare your meals and you won’t have to do unnecessary trips to the grocery shop.
The Time Use Institute, reported that the average shopping trip takes 44 minutes. Assuming an average a family makes 1.5 trip per week, that easily translates to 57 hours a year or put it differently, it is more than the time you spend at the office in one week.
Another way meal planning will save you time is by choosing upfront healthy but easy to prepare meals, taking away the time-consuming routine of scrambling for recipes at the last minute.
You save time by organising your groceries shopping and carefully choosing healthy meals you know you can cook in no-time.
You decide when in the week you add new meals you know it will take you more time to prepare, and avoid complicated recipes or wait time scrambling for new ideas every week.
Meal planning is about investing a small amount of time once or two times a week and reap the benefits during the week.
Saving money is another huge benefit of meal planning. By planning your meals you know exactly what you need to buy and you do not spend more money buying additional quantities of ingredients you won’t use.
Not to mention that meal planning allows you to also prepare more meals at home and reduce what you would normally spend at restaurants.
Our own experience tell us that you could save at least $10 or even $15 per meal and person by cooking at home.
What that means is that a meal prepared at home could be saving you between $500 to $800 a year per person.
Start with small steps, no need to take more time than necessary to plan your meals and see this benefit.
Choose a simple meal planning approach and tool that works for you, one that can help you with grocery list, weekly plans and track expenses.
You can quantify the benefits of meal planning based on your own needs, maybe you will need to eat outside a few times in a week, but there is no doubt that by planning your meals you will save money.
As you can see, you have a great range of benefits when planning your meals, from benefits you can quantify such as reducing waste, saving time and saving money to others like healthier diet, family bond, reducing stress and food variety which may not be that easy to quantify but gives you huge positive effects in your life style.
You simplify and improve your lifestyle!
The benefits are there, and as explained you just need to start small, choose a simple approach of meal planning that works for you and reap the benefits of it.
Happy meal planning!