When I mention meal planning to clients, I am either met with enthusiasm or utter dread. It seems to be a marmite kind of subject in that you really either love it or hate it.
It’s probably no surprise that I love meal planning. I find it beneficial for many reasons including
- It saves time
- It saves money
- It reduces food waste
- It keeps me on track with healthy habits
- It ensures variety
That’s quite a list of benefits and it’s why I do meal plan every week. On a rare occasion I’ll not be able to plan, and I really do notice a massive difference to how unprepared and stressed I find mealtimes.
From what I hear, the resistance to meal planning is more around mindset. Clients tell me that they find the concept boring, doesn’t allow for spontaneity or flexibility and takes much too long to do each week. People also tell me that they can’t possibly think of what they might fancy eating in 5 days’ time.
Whilst I truly understand these opinions, I don’t think that they should stop you trying to incorporate some meal planning into your life.
Here’s what I have to say on the push backs I hear on meal planning
There is no spontaneity in meal planning
If you evaluate yours and your family’s eating habits, you’ll probably notice quite a pattern. It might be that you have a takeaway once a week, a pasta meal once a week, a roast once a week or do meat free Mondays. You see, we are creatures of habit, and our repertoire of meals isn’t often that large. This is great for meal planning and means that we aren’t as spontaneous as we once thought. If you really struggle with that concept you can always only meal plan for 5 nights a week so that 2 nights you can do exactly as you fancy that day.
There is no flexibility with meal planning
When you meal plan, you’ll often write the days of the week and then a meal against each day. The benefit here is that it helps mostly with the shopping list. It means we can buy in the ingredients to make all the meals we plan. BUT, and this is key, just because you wrote a specific meal down for the Tuesday this doesn’t mean you have to eat that meal on that day – you still have the flexibility to choose any of the 7 meals each day. So, there is plenty of flexibility still available to you if you really don’t fancy your suggested meal or if your routine changes and you need to make a meal quicker.
Meal planning is so boring
Perhaps it is…..but what I do know is that I only think about meals for 1 hour a week. I’ll plan out the meal, do an online food order and then each day I just refer to my plan. When I don’t meal plan I end up thinking about food for at least 15 -20 minutes each day. I will often also have to pop to the shops to pick up an ingredient that I don’t have multiple times. Over the week that can mean I am thinking about food for several hours AND doing much more shopping. I might be wrong but I find that wasted time and supermarket trips way more boring!
How to meal plan
Meal planning itself can be as much or as little as you need it to be. You might only want to do for a few days at a time, for just evening meals or you might want to go all in and do it for a full week and for 3 meals each day.
For my full guide on how to meal plan and some very useful templates to work from click here. But the principle is to create your bank of meals, apply that to your weekly plan and then, using the selected meals, go shopping for foods. Then sit back and enjoy all your free time!
See…..it’s not so bad after all!
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