Meal Planning Your Way into Financial Freedom
One of the simplest ways of stretching your monthly budget is by eating at home. Nonetheless, the hassle that comes with eating at home, such as grocery shopping, preparing ingredients, and cooking can be a challenge to many.
So, is there a way of eating at home without having to go through that stress regularly? The answer is yes. It is called meal planning. Here is what you need to know about it.
How Much Do You Spend on Eating Out? It’s Probably More Than You Think
In case you thought you were not spending a lot dining out; you are in for a surprise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spends nearly $3,000 every year eating out.
In light of such revelations, consider eating at home. Meal planning can make this easier.
This does not mean thinking about what you will have for dinner today. Instead, it means having a plan for what you are going to eat the entire week. You will also need to prepare a menu for the whole week in advance.
Next, you have to go to the grocery store and get all the ingredients that you will need for the week. Then prepare those ingredients in advance so that all you have to do on a specific day is cook.
Doing this not only curbs the urge to eat out (since you have everything ready at home), but it also saves you time by reducing the number of trips that you make to the grocery store, as well as the time you would take to prepare ingredients each day.
Meal planning is quite simple. Here is how a typical meal plan goes:
- Reviewing meal planning recipes online then plotting out daily menus
- Identifying the ingredients that you will need to buy
- Preparing the ingredients in advance
It is important to mention that meal planning is not just the process of stocking up on ingredients; it also necessitates the need to prepare mentally and learn to enjoy the process of making your own meals.
Dine In: Kill Two Birds with One Stone by Eating Better and Saving Money
For a person who is used to take out and eating out, it might take a bit of time to get used to preparing meals at home. However, think of the following benefits.
- Saving Money
As mentioned, when you know you have food at home, you will be less likely to eat out. Additionally, meal planning allows you to budget for your lunch needs as well, which ensures that you can prepare enough to carry your lunch with you.
Moreover, when you have a plan, you will be less likely to make impulse buys at the grocery store since you know what you want.
- Eating Healthy Food
Eating a nutrient-rich diet should be the norm, as you need it for optimal functioning in the body. However, it might not be possible to sustain such a diet if you do not plan prior.
Meal planning allows you to decide what healthy meals your loved ones are going to eat on a given week before going to the store. It will also help you stick to your goal of maintaining a healthy diet.
- Food Does Not Go to Waste
Most people have containers of food at the back of their fridge that is well beyond its expiry date. This kind of wastage is what drains your resources.
Meal planning allows you to know the exact amount that you will need to prepare based on your family’s eating habits, thereby eliminating wastage.
- Less Stress
When you do not meal plan, you will always stress about what you are going to prepare for lunch or dinner that day. Meal planning takes that uncertainty and anxiety away.
- Saving Time
With fewer trips to the store in addition to not having to prepare ingredients every time you want to cook, you will find yourself with just as much time as you would have if you ate outside.
The benefits of meal planning go beyond saving time; it also allows you peace of mind.
Meal Prep Tips, Recipes, and Hacks
The following meal planning ideas should come in handy during your meal prep:
- Have a Template
Instead of making a recipe from scratch each week, consider having a template of the general types of food that you cook every week. Ensure that that template has proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and vegetables. Therefore, all you will need to do is identify the food types that you will use that week.
- Consider Meal Planning Resources
There are online meal planning services that will do all the work for you, which means that your task will be simply to get the recipe, shop for ingredients, and prepare them. They spare you the hassle of having to come up with a meal plan every week.
- Have a Pantry List
Before you go shopping, ensure that you are aware of everything that you need. A pantry list should help you keep track of that.
- Cook in Bulk
Cooking in bulk ensures that you do not have to go to the kitchen every day. As such, whenever you have free time, make the most of it and cook as much as you can.
While at it, try to capitalize on any promotions the grocery store has to offer. To bring down your costs even further, if you use electric energy for cooking, look for cheap electric suppliers. Make sure to compare various electricity suppliers in PA before settling for a supplier.
The path to financial freedom involves cutting costs wherever you can. Meal planning allows you to reduce your eating expenses without compromising the quality and quantity of your food.