If you’re like many people you probably don’t know what you’re having for dinner until you pull it out of the freezer to defrost after work. However, there are even more people turning to meal planning to help them figure out the world famous question, “what’s for dinner?” Though many people start meal planning for weight loss purposes it can also be great for your wallet. In fact, it can be crucial for helping you stick to your monthly budget.
What is Meal Planning?
Meal planning is exactly what it sounds like. You sit down and plan out your meals for the week (or however long you wait between store trips) and then stick to the plan. As stated above, many people do this for weight-loss purposes. By planning out your meals you can have better control over your calorie intake and other nutritional factors. The same goes for meal planning and your budget, which is exactly why you should be doing it.
Why You Should Be Meal Planning
Planning out your meals can help you stick to a food budget. You’ll want to pick similar main ingredients for dishes throughout the week to save money. For example, you may pick up a pack of chicken breast for $15, which is a lot if you’re shopping on a $50/week budget. However, you will be able to make almost a week’s worth of dinner from that pack of chicken with proper meal planning. You may also want to be sure you have a list of all of your regular kitchen staples (which varies for everyone). Having a plan and lists prepared can seriously help you stick to your budget.
How to Create a Meal Plan
If you’re new to meal planning, don’t worry! I’d never even put thought into planning out my meals for the week until I started working out more. Once I started planning meals for the week and I started to see the positive affect it was having on me physically and financially I knew I’d stick with it.
To create a meal plan you first have to break down your meals of the day: breakfast, lunch and dinner (and sometimes snacks). Then write down some of your favorite meals for each (you’ll want to incorporate those into your meal plan from time-t0-time. Once you’ve got your favorite meals listed, also include some cheaper low-energy meals like spaghetti or PB&J.
After you’ve got a list of meals you’ll want to break down your meal plan on a calendar (check out this how-to on MyFitnessPal) and stick to it. Sticking to a meal plan saved me $20/week ($80/month) simply because I had a plan and wasn’t eating out anymore or grabbing last-minute food at the store’s deli. You could be saving just as much if you start meal planning now!
Do you meal plan? Have you seen any financial benefits?
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