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Meal planning. It’s something that a lot of people feel they need to do, but find it really hard to actually do. Why is meal planning so hard?
Although meal planning can seem hard at first, with a little bit of information and practice, it can become second nature. This blog post will go over the basic struggles of meal planning, as well as some tips to make the process easier. Planning ahead will help you save time and money while eating healthy, delicious meals. So why is meal planning so hard? Let’s find out!
Why is meal planning important?
Meal planning is important for a number of reasons. If only to avoid the dreaded 5 o’clock thought of, “What should I make for dinner tonight?” By planning out your meals you:
- Ensure that you’re getting the nutrients your body needs
- Save money by avoiding impulse purchases at the grocery store
- Reduce food waste
- Make cooking more enjoyable by giving you a chance to be creative in the kitchen
- Reduce stress by taking the guesswork out of mealtime
- Ease the mental load of having to plan meals on the fly
- Eat healthier even if you’re super busy
Despite all of these benefits, meal planning can be hard. It takes of dedication, commitment, and effort for it to work for you. But the results are worth it. Let’s look at the the most common reasons why you may be struggling with meal planning.
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!Benjamin Franklin
Why do I hate meal planning?
I don’t know about you, but I used to absolutely hate meal planning. Every time I sat down to try and come up with a plan, it felt like such a daunting task. Plus, it was always so hard to find recipes that were both balanced and affordable. And then there’s the whole issue of trying to figure out what to make each day…ugh! Why does meal planning have to be so difficult? Have you ever felt this way too?
However, as a work from home mom with every minute of my day accounted for, I knew that there had to be some way to provide home cooked meals for my family. There’s only so much you can spend on UberEats! So I had to figure out: how can I make meal planning easier?
Therefore, the first step is to find out why meal planning is so hard for you. Is it because you don’t like cooking? Or because you’re always short on time?
Once you know what the obstacle is, you can start to work on solutions. If you don’t like cooking, try looking for easy recipes that only require a few ingredients. If you’re short on time, try meal prepping on the weekends so that you have food already prepared during the week. The key is to find what works for you and then practice, practice, practice! The more you do it, the easier it will become.
What are the factors affecting meal planning?
Additional reasons why meal planning is so hard is that it requires advance planning and preparation. It can be time consuming. You have to figure out what you’re going to make, go grocery shopping, and then actually cook the food.
Another reason meal planning is so hard is that it can be difficult to stick to a plan when life gets busy.
It can also be expensive. If you’re not careful, you can end up spending a lot of money on food that you don’t end up eating.
Lastly, it can be boring. If you eat the same thing every day, you’re going to get tired of it pretty quickly.
However, there are a few meal planning tricks and tips that can make meal planning easier.
By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to successful meal planning in no time!
How can I make meal planning easier? (10 Tips)
Let’s take a look at some meal planning hacks that can simplify your life:
- Start small by meal planning for one meal at a time. It doesn’t even have to be a complicated meal. One of my favorite meals is cooking frozen plant based meatballs into jarred spaghetti sauce and pouring it over cooked pasta. That’s it! Don’t get caught up in complicated recipes with 75 different spices.
- Try to batch cook whenever possible. Batch cooking is when you make a large batch of one dish and then eat it for multiple meals. This is a great way to save time and money, because you’ll only have to do the work of cooking once but you’ll get multiple meals out of it.
- Use one pot/pan meals or slow cooker meals These are re great for batch cooking. You can do one prep for two days’ worth of dinner. That dramatically reduces the amount of cooking you have to do in a week.
- Make use of leftovers. From batch cooked meals or any other leftovers that you can use creatively in another meal. This works especially well for food like Rotisserie chicken or ground beef that you can easily incorporate into any meal.
- Try meal prepping. Meal prepping is when you cook meals in advance and then store them in the fridge or freezer for later. This can save you a lot of time during the week, because you won’t have to cook every meal from scratch.
- Be flexible. Buy flexible ingredients that can easily be thrown together into a variety of different meals. For example, the aforementioned Rotisserie chicken, frozen ravioli, bagged salads, frozen meatballs, even frozen pizza! These quick, no-brainer meal planning options can be real life savers during overly busy days.
- Create a capsule pantry. This is a collection of non-perishable food items that can be used to make quick and easy meals. A capsule pantry typically includes items such as pasta, rice, canned goods, and spices. Having everything you need in one place makes meal planning much easier. It also allows you to be more creative with your cooking, since you’re not limited by what you have on hand. And if you ever find yourself in a pinch, you’ll know that your capsule pantry has everything you need to get by.
- Meal delivery services provide you with pre-planned meals and eliminate the need to make multiple trips to the grocery store. If you are looking for a convenient way to save time and money on groceries, consider signing up for one of the many meal planning services available online. Here are some that I love:
- Meal kit services. These companies send you all the ingredients you need to make a meal, along with instructions. All you have to do is cook and enjoy. Meal kit services are becoming increasingly popular, as they offer a convenient way to eat healthy without having to meal plan. Plus, they take the guesswork out of cooking, which can be especially helpful for busy weeknights. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a beginner cook, meal kit services are definitely worth checking out.
- Give yourself grace. Order out if you need to! At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if the meal was perfect. The most important thing is that everyone has been well fed and happy!
Simple recipes for meal prepping
How can I get better at meal planning?
Meal planning can be hard, but there are some ways to make it easier. As I mentioned above, just start by meal planning for one meal at a time. That way, you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner all at once.
You can also try meal planning for a week or a month at a time. This will help you get into the habit of meal planning and make it less daunting.
Another tip is to make sure you have all the ingredients you need before you start cooking. This way, you won’t have to run to the store in the middle of cooking dinner.
And finally, don’t be afraid to practice. The more you meal plan, the easier it will become. And believe me, in the end, all the hard work definitely pays off. When you’re in between Zoom meetings and all you have to do is shove a frozen casserole in the oven and serve it with a side of (bagged) salad? Priceless!
Meal planning can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. By using some of the tips and tricks I’ve shared in this post, you can make planning out your meals simpler and less time consuming. What are your biggest challenges when it comes to meal planning? What can you do today help you overcome them?
Hi! I’m Melissa, Registered Dietitian and mother of two dragons. When I’m not talking nutrition you can find me rolling around the floor with my kids, sewing, crafting, cooking or missing the 90s (seriously, music just isn’t the same). Read More…