I’m going to make a bold statement here. Meal planning is one of the most abundant, creative things that you can do.
Stick with me on this. Too often we think of meal planning (if we think of it at all) as pure drudgery.
But, if we enter this undertaking with an attitude of abundance and appreciation for the fact that we get to be proactive and in control of what we’re going to put in our bodies for the next week and how much money we spend on that, we can experience a profound mental shift. Meal planning suddenly goes from being a mundane chore to a creative and exciting privilege. What makes it even more wonderful is how much money it saves us along the way!
What is Meal Planning
While I walk you through the crucial first steps of meal planning in this video, here’s my definition of it in a nutshell. It’s deciding ahead of time in a very conscious way every meal and snack that you and your family are going to have during the week and then creating your grocery list based on any ingredients that you don’t have to make them.
There are a number of great tools to help with this process (some of which are free) that I look at in more depth here.
A Money-Saving Mental Shift
The key is carving out a set time to sit down and devote your full attention to meal planning. I highly recommend having a steaming cup of your favorite hot drink in hand. This is the time to be inspired and creative – not when you’re rushing home from work and trying to figure out “what’s for dinner tonight?”
The weeks I look at it in a bored and tired way are inevitably the weeks that I forget to include half of the ingredients that I need and end up going back to the store multiple times. As we all know, every trip to the store costs more than what it should because we think of something else that we may need or want at that particular moment.
The really costly part to both our health and our budget is that when we make those middle of the week stops, we’re usually tired, rushed and either emotionally or physically hungry. We’re in a place of lack, not abundance. Unhealthy wants suddenly seem like needs and before you know it, you have half a basket full of things that if you were in a better place, you wouldn’t even think of getting.
I know for a fact that during the weeks that I make multiple unplanned trips to the store, I end up spending $25-$50 more than during the weeks where I plan everything out. That’s not to even mention when we completely throw in the towel and end up eating out because we don’t have what we need. Half the time, we still have to go by the grocery store to get the missing ingredients for something else that we’ll need them for later in the week.
There’s no doubt about it in my book. An open and abundant approach to meal planning is crucial to a healthy lifestyle and a healthy pocketbook. May your next trip with a grocery cart contribute to both!