The Benefits of Meal Planning

by jessicaturner on August 17, 2009


Elias eating his first pb&j

In Real Simple a few years back, I read that meal planning can save your family a boatload of money. I really took this to heart and have since made a big effort to plan our meals for the following week and grocery shop every weekend.

Meal planning allows me to only grocery shop once a week, which saves us BIG money. Most people will buy unnecessary items every time they go to the grocery store. So, if you make four trips to the grocery store in one week, you are probably spending a lot of extra money. I know this is definitely true for me. I cannot walk into the grocery store and only buy what is on my list. Simply not possible.

We also eat out a lot less now that I meal plan. This is also a huge cost savings. Not eating out also tends to be healthier. As an added bonus, Matthew and I find that we usually like the meals we cook at home better than what we eat at most restaurants.

The other big benefit, to me, of meal planning is that I am much less stressed about dinner. I come home from work knowing what we are going to have, and often will have already made part of the meal in the morning. That way I can spend more time playing with Elias and less time worrying about dinner. Efficiency rocks.

Do you meal plan? If so, what works for you?

Oh, and since we are talking about food, I have to share the video Matthew got of Elias last night. He was so tired that he kept falling asleep while eating his spaghetti. It was hilarious.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca Louise. August 17, 2009 at 10:35 am

Aww this made my heart melt!

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becca August 17, 2009 at 12:13 pm

I haven't seen the video yet, but can't wait to view it. Meal planning…I've found that if I can get a head start on the week, and cook a meal a day ahead, it helps. For example, last night, we had left overs as we typically do on a Sunday night, but while I was cleaning up the kitchen, I put some chicken in the crock pot, and went ahead and cooked the side dishes we will have for supper tonight. And then tonight, while I clean up from supper, I'll go ahead and fix supper for tomorrow. So on and so forth. That way, supper is ready before we ever get home, we just need to re-heat it. Easy peasy lemon squeezy! Plus, it makes our 2 year old very happy to not have to wait for supper to cook. He's in a growth spurt and gets cranky fast these days. If I can make supper happen quickly and it still be healthy, that's just an added bonus.

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Lauren Kelly August 17, 2009 at 1:14 pm

I too am trying to balance and figure this out because I just recently got out on my own and trying to figure out what works for me as far as meal planning!

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Rachel August 17, 2009 at 1:49 pm

We are big meal planners.

Each week we plan 5 meals. We usually do leftovers one night and go out/order take out one night.

My husband usually plans 2 meals to make, and I plan 3. After we make our list, we typically take turns going to the store. However, since I'm a teacher and have summers off, I've been doing all the shopping this summer.

We each have our own list of recipes and we try to switch it up each week.

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Julia August 17, 2009 at 2:17 pm

thanks for sharing. we've been guilty of that lately and we need to get on board with shopping once a week like we used to! many times, we make a big batch of something and freeze half of it for future use!

and the video is adorable!! how stinkin' funny!!

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carrie August 17, 2009 at 2:33 pm

we plan meals ahead of time to do a single shopping trip in the week – we like theme weeks like mexican, italian, gourmet sandwich/salad, or meat/potato/side week. The themes allow us to use leftovers from one day in a meal later in the week and keeps costs down since we use the same ingredients throughout the week.

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HW August 17, 2009 at 2:33 pm

We get paid every two weeks so I've always gone to the grocery story every other week, except for bread, milk and eggs. I plan 10 meals at a time, leaving room for leftovers or eating out a few nights.

I often buy five pounds of ground beef and divide it into 3 portions. I brown two portions for sloppy joes, tacos, or spaghetti, and leave one portion for meatloaf. Also, I buy a large pack of chicken breasts and boil them all at once then divide them into small containers for use in casseroles and chicken salad. I usually cook this meat on Mondays. Having the meat ready is a huge step in getting a meal prepared.

I don't work outside the home but with teenagers, we spend most of our evenings on the bleachers somewhere. It's great to have something ready to toss into a casserole and have a meal within a half hour.

That video of Elias was so sweet it made my heart hurt.

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KARSIE GENE August 17, 2009 at 2:33 pm

We are meal planners too!
We plan our meals to have just enough leftovers to make lunch for the next day. I also ALWAYS try to include at least one croc-pot meal for our busiest day that week. That way we come home to dinner already made for us! Another saving point for meal planning is that your produce isn't wasted if you buy what you will use.
My co-workers always ask what will be for dinner that night to get ideas… I already know!

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Chatty Cricket August 17, 2009 at 2:39 pm

SO CUTE!!! So so so cute!

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Stacey August 17, 2009 at 3:11 pm

I keep trying to meal plan. I am such a craver…sometimes I get home and the 'plan' doesn't sound good. Ha! I love, love that video of Elias. Cristian hasn't fallen asleep eating, but he has snuggled up in his ball pit for a quick snooze!

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Angie S August 17, 2009 at 6:23 pm

I love meal planning, and it works for our family. I try to plan meals for two weeks, and only grab bread and milk at the store in between BIG grocery store visits. With two small kids going to the grocery store can be stressful. I LOVE the video of Elias. He is so cute :) I laughed out loud…

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Rebecca (Sam's wife) August 17, 2009 at 7:28 pm

used to be better at meal planning and need to be better at it.
that video of elias falling asleep was pretty pitiful…poor guy he was so tired…he is looking like such a big boy now.

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BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) August 17, 2009 at 10:11 pm

That video is the cutest thing ever. I have the sweetest spaghetti in the highchair pics from both my girls!

Oh and meal planning…I am going to start doing it now that school has started. It helps me greatly and it definitely saves money! But I am a total slacker in the summers! :)

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Sara August 17, 2009 at 11:21 pm

An even better way to save money is to plan your menus around things that you have coupons for. I have always planned out my meals. That is something my mom taught me long ago. We take the leftovers to work. That helps limit our eating out. On top of that, I use the store sales too to get even MORE savings! I stock up on meats when they are on sale and freeze them. I know not everyone can do that. I have an extra fridge in the garage. Also using seasonal fruits and vegetables is a way to save too. If you aren't paying to have it shipped from another country than you are leaving out the middle man.
I, too, have videos of little boys falling asleep in their food. Except you can always hear me laughing at them in the background! So sweet!

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Danielle August 18, 2009 at 1:29 am

That is the cutest and sweetest video ever…cutie pie! He is playing hard during the day huh? :)

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Brittany August 18, 2009 at 2:57 am

Oh my goodness. How funny! I used to meal plan. I need to get back on that. Thanks for the reminder!

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The Rowe Family August 18, 2009 at 2:25 pm

That boy is the sweetest little man! The video is awesome. Speaking of that….CAN YOU PLEASE tell me what kind of video camera you use? I am pregnant and have bought and returned 3 camcorders because I can't find one to upload with ease. I would so appreciate. Erowe1@stny.rr.com

As far as meal planning, I actually do the same thing you do (or I try). One of things I have found helpful is I have a binder and I put my favorite recipes in it and refer to that book when trying to come up with my menu.

I agree it helps a lot with shopping, saving money, etc.

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Diana August 18, 2009 at 5:08 pm

Yes, I do plan meals but still go to the grocery store about three times a week. We eat a lot of fruits and veggies so I have to go to continue to get fresh produce.

If anyone has a suggestion on how to keep produce fresh – let me know. It would cut down on going to the store!

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Family Recipe August 18, 2009 at 6:31 pm

Want a delicious recipe for the family
then try this new recipe I recently found
I made it for a family dinner
the kids at it all up in no time

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Courtney August 20, 2009 at 3:21 pm

love the video so cute!!

we cold not live without menu planning! i love it!

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