One of my readers asked me to share about my menu planning.
So, I’ll be posting more about exactly how I do this, but first I wanted to list the benefits I receive from planning.
I do know people who manage very well without planning a menu (these people tend to be more creative cooks than I am!), but I am most definitely not one of those
Because of that, my life runs so much more smoothly when I take the time to plan.
(Related: I am not a gifted cook.)
Now, if you are thriving without menu planning, good for you! I see no reason for you take up the habit.
- you find yourself stressed out about what to make for dinner
- you find yourself running to the grocery store many times per week
- you get takeout more often than you want to
- you are spending more on groceries than you’d like
Well, maybe you should give menu planning a try! If making a week-long plan feels like too much, try just a few days at a time and see how it goes.
Here are all the reasons that I personally like to menu plan.
1. It saves me time
Granted, it does take some time to sit down and plan out our meals, but once I have it done, I don’t have to think about choosing a meal for an entire week.
That’s really freeing to me!
For some reason, I spend less time choosing 7 meals at a time than I’d spend choosing one meal each day.
I don’t know why it works that way, but it does.
2. It gives me peace of mind
When I don’t have something planned for dinner, I feel sort of like a dark cloud is hanging over me all day. There’s always this “I need to pick something for dinner.” thought nagging me all day.
Having something planned frees me from the pressure of having to come up with a dinner idea each day.
3. It allows me to grocery shop less frequently
When I was more lax about menu planning, it seemed like I was always short an essential ingredient or two, and I ended up running out here and there for quick trips to the store.
As we all know, a quick trip to the store always ends up being more than a quick trip, and so this habit of mine cost me money.
When I have a whole week’s menu planned out in detail, I can buy everything I need and then I don’t need to darken the door of a grocery store for another week.
(this could also be filed under the “saving time” heading!)
4. It keeps me from being tempted to eat out
When I don’t have a meal chosen ahead of time, I tend to put off that nagging dinner decision as long as possible, and before I know it, it’s late afternoon and I have no idea what to make for dinner.
At times like those, ordering a pizza or giving in to fast food is irresistibly tempting.
On the other hand, when I’ve got something planned, in the late afternoon I have ingredients defrosted, I’ve got some prep work done and I’m much more able to resist the pull to eat out.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that this saves us incredible amounts of money!
5. It enables me to try new recipes easily
(This is sort of related to #3.)
Since I look through all the recipes for the week as I make my grocery list, I can easily add a new item, like an unusual ingredient.
If I was deciding to try a new recipe off the cuff, odds are that I wouldn’t have that ingredient and would either have to run to the store or choose a different recipe.
6. It helps us to eat foods that are cheap
Since I’m planning ahead, I can choose meals that coordinate with the food I can obtain cheaply that week, whether it’s food from my parents’ garden, food from the farmer’s market, or food that is on sale that particular week.
7. It helps us to use up the food we have here.
When I don’t plan, I’m much more likely to just go and buy whatever I need for a particular meal.
When I plan, though, I take inventory of the food in my fridge and freezer and plan meals that use those ingredients.
That’s why I plan a menu.