6 Reasons Why You Should Be Meal Planning (or, How We Paid Off Our Debt By Planning Our Meals)


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I've written a bit about meal planning and I speak about it for a few reasons but mainly because it has allowed us to pay off our debt, and it can help you do the same!  When you meal plan you determine how expensive you want that week's meals to be.  You are able to take complete control of your budget.

The way in which I utilized our meal plan to pay off our debt was by reducing (significantly) what we spent on groceries every week.  Then, I would allow for an extra $15.00 per week to use as "stock-up" money.  It doesn't have to be used every week, but it should be set aside every week.  Then, when you find a great sale on ingredients that you typically use (meat, produce, grains, seafood, etc.), buy them in bulk (provided you can store them) for use later.  Once you've stored them you can now write them into upcoming meal plans, which will save you money in those weeks as well, because some of your ingredients have already been purchased.

This is what it looked like for us:
  • I was typically spending $130.00/week for two of us.
  • I cut our weekly grocery budget to $65.00/week for just about 1 year.
  • I would plan to spend $50.00/week, then save $15.00 for bulk purchasing on sale items we could save for use later.
  • No, we did not eat ramen...…. (not that there's anything wrong with that).  Instead, by planning our meals I was able to stretch more expensive ingredients like meat or grains (i.e. one whole chicken can be spread out amongst numerous meals and then the carcass can be cooked in the slow-cooker with veggies to make homemade chicken broth).
  • I was then able to put $65.00/week extra toward our credit card debt (I paid an extra $260.00 minimum per month toward our debt). 
In our case, I took the excess money that I had previously spent on groceries, and began immediately paying down our debt.  It took a bit of time, but once we did this regularly, all of our debt (except the mortgage) was gone for good.  Now I know how to control our grocery budget and can easily reduce it for weeks or months, if needed, to save up for something we want to purchase rather than using credit.


Related: Writing and Using A Meal Plan 


Here are the reasons why everyone should be meal planning:


1. To Save Money
  • You will be purchasing only what you will use that week (+ any sale stock-up items for the pantry or freezer).
  • You will be creating your weekly menu to utilize items you already have on hand.
2. To Eat Better
  • Because you're taking the time to think about the menu and to plan it out, you will be able to plan healthy, nutritious meals AND you will no longer need to order take-out, or when you do, it's a planned take-out.
  • You'll be able to answer the "what's for dinner" question and can plan for it.
3. To Eliminate Food Waste (2 ways)
  • You have a list of exactly what you need for the week = no overbuying.
  • You can schedule any leftover items into the next week's menu = no throwing out perishables.
4. To Eliminate Stress
  • Yes, it seems stressful (and overwhelming) to take on the task of meal planning, and I won't lie, it will be, just a bit, initially.  But only initially.  Once you've made it through the set-up phase, your weekly stress surrounding meals will be minimal or gone and you will know exactly what you're cooking every single day of the week.
5. To Save Time
  • Like #4, initially, it will take a bit of time to set up the process, but every week afterward is so much less time consuming.  Once you get some meal plans under your belt you can re-use them.  You won't even have to make them up again!
6. To Try New Recipes
  • If you're like me and, it seems, the majority of people, you tend to use and re-use the same 20 (or so) recipes over and over.  And that's ok!  But if you have a pinterest file full of new recipes to try or, if you have cookbooks or magazines piled up that you have earmarked to try "someday", now you can actually plan to make some of those recipes.
  • Plan to try one new recipe every week or one every other week.  Then, if it's well loved, add it to your recipe file. 
I will share more tips and tricks as well as exactly how I meal plan, meal prep and write a grocery list in upcoming posts!

Have you ever tried to meal plan?  What are some of your successful tips or hurdles you've encountered?

2 comments

Melissa Test said...

I have just started seeing a nutritionist. Basically she gives me two days worth of meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner and in between snacks). I than eat those two meals all week. Occasionally she puts in a few variations on the meals in case I am bored. I find I am spending about $100 a week which is about $60-$100 less than I usually spend a week. I feel more energetic and have lost weight. Meal planning is definitely the way to go.

Unknown said...

In addition to the meal planning.... we are trying to eat better overall, and I in particular have cut out white flour and white sugar, which is probably the best decision I have made in the last ten years!
Some of my good southern relatives have been astonished and want to know "well then, what can you even eat?? There's nothing left!" My husband and I are in our mid-50's and are in great health-- and have dismayingly watched a lot of people our age that we know battle chronic illnesses (and even die). What you eat is so very important. Thanks for this blog!