If you find yourself scrambling last minute to put balanced, healthy lunches and dinners on the table, you’re not alone! We’ve all been there (well, at least most of us!) In fact, I’ll confess that to save my own sanity I got creative and developed a weekly meal planning worksheet, and it’s changed everything. No more frantic runs to the grocery store at rush hour and no more throwing a bunch of snacks together and calling it “dinner.” And, best of all, just the right portions of leftovers.
With my often busy, hectic life, I honestly don’t know what I would do without my planner. It’s amazing what a simple little piece of paper can do. I’m not always a very organized person, and this planner helps me keep it together when it comes to healthy cooking and eating.
With sections for daily meals and snacks and a shopping list, it may seem simple, but boy does this work. For me, this planner makes order out of what would otherwise be meal-planning chaos! If you can relate to this, read on …
Why Plan Meals in Advance?
I’ve found that meal planning is one of the simplest and easiest ways to ensure that I eat nourishing, balanced plant-based foods and don’t get sidetracked by momentary whims. Meal planning is especially helpful if you're trying to lose weight or needing to save money on your food budget. With all the benefits of meal planning, I’ve found that it's well worth investing the little bit of extra time it takes to “just plan it.”
Before I move on to the benefits of using a meal planner, I've included a link below to sign up for my newsletter. If you do so here, you'll get my Meal Planner included in your subscription.
SUBSCRIBE AND RECEIVE THE WEEKLY MEAL PLANNER.
Subscribe to receive emails with recipes and articles about living a plant-based life and receive my Weekly Meal Planner as a bonus. (I send emails about once a week.)
The Benefits of Using a Weekly Meal Planner
* Meal planning keeps you on track with your dietary goals and provides a record, or a diary, of your eating habits over time. It’s great to be able to look over my past weeks’ meal plans and see how and where I may have gotten off track and where I need to make adjustments.
* Perhaps I’m eating too many low-fiber carbs or not enough leafy greens. The meal planning worksheets make that so obvious. It’s only human to fool ourselves sometimes – what we think we’re eating may not be what we’re actually eating. The meal planning worksheet gives us the facts!
* Meal planning helps minimize impulse and binge eating. When you’re regularly enjoying healthy, balanced and varied meals and snacks, your blood sugar is likely to be more stable and you’re much less likely to just grab things “on the go” without regard for quality or quantity.
* You can save money through meal planning by lessening the odds that you’ll resort to fast or convenience foods. Let’s face it, cooking at home, even when using fresh, healthy and perhaps organic ingredients is still less costly than relying on pre-packaged and processed foods or eating out.
* You can likewise save money through meal planning by buying in bulk from discount outlets such as Costco, Sam’s Club or Target, and by taking advantage of what’s on sale at your local grocer or natural foods store.
* You control the number of leftovers. When you plan in advance, you get to decide how much food to make and whether you want to have leftovers to eat that same week or perhaps to freeze for future use – or not. No more getting stuck eating the same thing every night!
* You’ll waste less food by buying just what you need for the week – a win-win for the environment and your wallet.
Meal Planning Basics
I sit down every Sunday to figure out my meals and grocery list, and I encourage you to pick a day that works for you and do the same.
I start by looking at the recipes index here on Plant-Based Cooking. I might also visit some other plant-based websites and then page through some of my favorite cookbooks. I pick out recipes that just strike my fancy for whatever reaso, or that call for ingredients that are on sale that week or that I happen to have on hand and know I want to use up.
After I’ve selected my recipes, I make a list of all the ingredients I need to get and add them to the “shopping list” section of the meal planner. It’s so easy to just have everything all in one place.
I like that this planning tool is an entire week on one, 8 1/2 x 11" page. You can make notes on the back and keep these for future reference in a notebook or on the fridge.
Get Your Planning On
For more in-depth information on meal planning, please read my article, "Beginner’s Guide to Easy Plant-Based Vegan Meal Planning."
As always, your feedback is appreciated. Is this planner working for you? Do you have any suggestions? Please leave me a message in the comments below with any tips you'd like to share.