We are all facing, it seems, new pressures each day. Financial pressures, time pressures, family pressures, parenting pressures, social pressures. Generally, there is little we can do to stop these pressures appearing, but what you and I can do is meet them head on and overcome them.
At the heart of every home is the kitchen. And whilst there is a romantic notion about cooking, celebrity chefs, and creating culinary masterpieces, the reality is we get to the end of a busy day at work or with the kids and the inspiration is just not there!
However, it is a part of life we can’t avoid. It’s a pressure that we have to deal with!
One of ways I dealt with the arrival of my first baby six years ago, was to adopt meal planning into our family life. At first the thought of “planning all those meals” down to every last ingredient (for food I wasn’t going to eat for days!) seemed daunting. But the more I investigated, the more I not only saw the benefits, but I saw the way forward for our family.
1. Meal Planning Saves Time
Once our family began to increase in size, I simply didn’t have the time to go into the kitchen at 6 pm, pull some things out and put together a meal for my husband and I. With more demands on my every waking moment, that wasn’t going to cut it! Neither was heading down to the store for a handful of ingredients when baby was sleeping. I needed to know I had something organized.
Meal planning gave me that organization. Because I knew ahead of time
a) what I was going to cook and
b) that I had the ingredients I needed to cook it,
I was able to get in and out of the kitchen quickly and still ‘plate-up’ a great family meal.
2. Meal Planning Saves Money
My usual way of grocery shopping involved a list and that list was usually written off the top of my head, you know; bread, milk, etc. As I went on my journey of meal planning discovery I found I was visiting the grocery store, two, three or more times each week! Sure I was just buying a handful of items but I soon found, as I took a closer look, I was buying a lot of things
a) we didn’t need
b) we already had!
As I began to meal plan the first thing I now do is to “shop at home first”. I make sure I know what I need and then check in my own refrigerator to see I already have it. It’s one of many meal planning tips I now use to save hundreds of dollars each year.
3. Meal Planning Saves Stress
We could all do with less stress. As extra demands came into my life, I found taking an extra degree of control and organization in the kitchen helps me immensely!
Planning a week of meals out ahead of time meant I had one less thing to worry about. Compiling a grocery list that could make use of what I’ve already got meant I knew I wouldn’t have any last minute surprises or rushing into the car and down to the store (again!).
Just knowing I now have a system, where my family are taken care of, my budget is taken care of and (most importantly) my sanity is taken care of, has made such a huge difference to my life. It’s amazing how powerful a seemingly small shift like this can be.
The fact is, having a baby for me was the key to understanding how beneficial meal planning is to me. But in truth, I wish I discovered it sooner. I can’t imagine now trying to manage with out it.
Ruthie Chant is self-confessed problem solver in the kitchen. She has taken her own meal-time and household management frustrations and discovered a multitude of ways to be rid of them forever! Start to get your family meal planning with a fantastic new resource!