Let’s paint a scenario of a typical day for some people. For the purposes of this scenario the character’s name is Zach. During the week, Zach’s alarm goes off around 6:00 am. He hits the snooze button twice, eventually rolls out of bed and starts getting ready. There always seems to be something that delays his process; his wife needs the bathroom longer, the dog makes a mess, his mom calls, his kid spills cereal all over the floor, insert your typical morning issue here. By the time he’s ready, he only has five minutes to spare before he has to leave. He doesn’t have anything quick to grab for breakfast, so he decides to stop at a coffee shop and grab a muffin and a coffee to go.
Fast forward to mid-morning at the office. He’s starving, so he heads to the vending machine to grab a snack to make it through to lunch. Lunch time rolls around and he realizes that he has a meeting in 30 minutes, so his lunch break will be cut short. He goes and grabs a burrito from a fast food taco joint and heads back to work. The burrito didn’t hold for very long and he’s hungry within an hour, so he heads back to the vending machine. He works the rest of the day and heads home, looks in the fridge to find a few random things, none of which sound good or lend themselves to makeing a recipe with, so he orders a pizza. It sounds to me like Zach could use some meal planning in his life. He could plan for his crazy mornings and have breakfasts that are easy to grab, he can take snacks with him to work, he can bring leftovers from dinner for lunch, and have the food he needs to make a quick meal at home after he’s done with work.
Introducing meal planning into your life has some major benefits, including saving money, saving time, reducing stress, and improving your health! Here are a few things Mayo Clinic says to consider when embarking on the meal planning journey:
- Plan your meals based on your calendar – what nights to do you have time to cook? What nights do you need to have leftovers? What night is date night?
- Look for sales – What does your grocery store have on sale this week?
- Check your pantry before going to the store – plan your meals based off of things you already have. This decreases your weekly grocery bill.
- Mix it up – try at least one new recipe per week, or try preparing one you know differently.
- Picture the plate – plan the meals by keeping in mind that vegetables and fruits should cover half your plate, a quarter of it should be lean protein, and the rest should be whole grains.
Give meal planning a try! Hopefully you'll see some positive changes as a result!