Having a meal plan is one of the best ways for me to stay on track with healthy eating. Sometimes having a plan is the difference between making the smart choice or not. Sometimes it is the difference between eating within my points budget or not. Sometimes it is just a way to avoid stressing about dinner.
Before I started planning our meals, every night after work was the same conversation with my husband: “What do you want for dinner? I don’t know. What do you want?” It was so frustrating trying to put a meal together on a whim and often led to us being hungry and cranky. Other times, it led us to just give up and order pizza or go out to dinner. This cost us money and calories that we didn’t budget for, and made it more difficult for me to stick to my weight watchers goals!
Benefits of Meal Planning
- Less stress & frustration
- Better communication
- Easier shopping
- Saving money
Less stress & frustration
Since I’ve started planning our meals, dinnertime is much less stressful. I put our dinners on our joint calendar, so my hubby can see the plan too. Knowing the plan makes it easier for him to support me in my goals and allows him to help out with prep when needed. While we don’t stick to the plan 100% of the time, it is much easier to make smart choices with the plan in place. If we decide to change our dinner plans, we can just swap options around from another day of the week.
I used to get SO aggravated when Jim would suggest going out to dinner if I had a super low point meal planned. I would start all this internal drama about how he should know I don’t have the points for that meal and how he should be more supportive, etc etc. Now that we have a plan and he can see the plan, he has a better understanding of what I need. He can still ask about eating out, but he’s better informed to have that discussion.
The other benefit of meal planning is that is makes grocery shopping much easier. How do you know what to buy at the store if you don’t know what you are planning to make? It makes perfect sense, really, but it took me a long time to actually figure out the format and the best way to implement it for our lives.
I try to plan 2 weeks at a time to make grocery shopping easier, but sometimes it is easier to plan only a week at a time to shop the weekly sales and to plan around our schedule. I often swap my breakfast and lunch options around, but the key is to have a plan as a foundation.
If I had no clue what I was having for breakfast tomorrow, it would be more tempting to just grab the first quick and easy thing I could find. Knowing what I am having motivates me to get it packed the night before so there is no question that it will ready for me the next morning!
Have you ever added up how much you spend on eating out in a month? We have, and it was SHOCKING. I could make multiple meals at home for what we would spend to eat out. I’m not opposed to eating out, but we try to plan for it once a week if possible. Having a plan for what to eat at home reduces the temptation to go out. If you have something planned, it’s usually just as easy to eat at home and often faster. When we are faced with trying to figure out what to eat in the moment when we are tired and hungry, going out always sounds easier.
Give it a try!
To get you started, read my post that shows you a step by step process to creating your own meal plan.
You can also download a blank meal planning template that you can simply fill in with what you want to eat for the week. Try to think of your schedule and any appointments that you may need to work meals around.
For example, we are going out to eat tomorrow for my husband’s birthday, so my plan for that day was simply “out to eat.” It might seem silly to put eating out on a meal plan, but it really helps me. By having that filled in, I knew that I didn’t need to plan food for us for that night. That’s really helpful to know when you are making your grocery list from your meal plan!
I will also try to post my meal plan weekly to give you ideas and examples. This is still a work in progress for me, so please post your questions and suggestions for improvement.