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meal planning

Meal Planning: How it Saves You Time & Money

For the past couple of years, we have planned our meals (lunch & dinner’s) a week in advance. We do not include breakfast in this process as we usually eat the same thing every morning (Granola & fresh fruit) except for the weekend which is either pancakes, avocado toasts or scrambled eggs.

Usually on a Sunday (Occasionally on a Saturday) we will sit down to plan out what we will eat for the following week.

We like to make the process as enjoyable as possible. We carve out 30 to 50min in the morning on a Sunday to dedicate the time to the planning. By dedicating this time, we can just focus on the one task and not get distracted by other activities. We like to make a pot of tea and have a nice snack during this process.

Generally, we use 2 methods:

  1. Look through our cookbooks for ideas for lunch and dinner or
  2. Look up our favorite vegetarian YouTube channels and bloggers

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We like to eat a balanced diet full of vegetables and plant-based protein. For each meal we want to ensure we have enough of whole grains, protein and vegetables to keep us nourished and full of energy throughout the day.

If we choose a larger meal for lunch, we will have a lighter evening meal, or if our lunch is lighter, we will have a larger evening meal.

We usually choose 2 lunch options and 2 dinner options for one week (Monday to Friday), weekends are open to whatever we feel like on the day or if we want to treat ourselves out to lunch or dinner. πŸ˜‰

After we have chosen our meals, we will create a list of all the ingredients we need. Once the list is created, we ensure we have none of the ingredients in our cupboards or fridge (usually we have salt, pepper, spices, herbs, olive oil and condiments in stock) If there are any items on the list, we have we will cross them out before going shopping.

On our fridge we have a white board which we list any items we ran out of or are low on for that week e.g. toilet roll, soap, apples, deodorant etc. All of these are now added to our list.

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Before going to the grocery store, we will ensure to bring our reusable shopping bags and smaller produce bags. We will pop our list and a pen into the bags also.

At the grocery store we will buy only what is on our list which is basically a week’s worth of groceries. Any items we can buy in bulk we prefer and we try and steer away from packaging as much as we can. This time of year, though it is really hard to find berries without packaging.

The list prevents us from picking up unnecessary items and spending money on items we do not need. By making our own breakfast, lunch & dinner we don’t have to spend money every day eating out, which can add up very quickly. We bring our own tea mugs to work so we do not have to buy take-out tea’s during the week.

Once we have the groceries bought, we will bring them home and put them away. Later that Sunday we will prepare the first option for lunch on Monday, sometimes we might do this on a Monday morning before work if Sunday gets too busy. Monday evening, we will prepare the dinner for the next couple of nights. We never spend more than an hour preparing and cooking each meal.

We usually prepare the other options for lunch & dinner on a Wednesday evening or a Thursday morning.

We love food, having healthy delicious options for our meals is important to us. However, the idea of cooking every day is too much and besides we want to have spare time in our evenings to do other activities.

In total we will spend 4 hours max cooking each week (Mon-Sun) with 30-50min planning our meals.

The pro’s to meal planning are:

  • Creating time & space in the evenings to do other activities
  • Avoiding decision fatigue every evening to decide on what to eat
  • Keeping your shopping within budget
  • Saving money from not eating out for lunch & dinner
  • Having a balanced diet
  • Reducing food waste
  • Prevents impulse shopping
  • Avoiding eating unhealthy fast options to curb hunger as food is always prepped & stored in fridge

We highly recommend planning your meals in advance. Especially for those evenings when you come home from work exhausted, the idea of just heating up a yummy meal is so comforting. The temptation to order take-out is eliminated saving you from all the unnecessary calories and keeps your money in your pocketπŸ˜‰

Please leave your comments below & any suggestions you have on meal planning.

Have a great week.

Chat soon,

Theresa

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