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Last week I didn't meal plan. I had planned to meal plan, but life just got in the way.
On Wednesday afternoon I went to the freezer to get a few packages of ground pork out of the freezer. I figured I'd just quickly defrost them and make some sort of pork meatball dinner. But when I got to the freezer they were nowhere to be found.
Immediate text to husband “Hon, you haven't happened to have seen the ground pork that was in the freezer, have you?”. Response back “oh yeah, I used that to make the breakfast sausage last weekend”.
Um, now what?
After a quick search through my freezer I found some year-old tomato soup, so I just defrosted that and served it with some Paleo pumpkin bread and a salad.
There are a few lessons to be learned in this.
- Had I meal planned I would have taken the ground pork out of the freezer prior to needing it and would've known it was no longer there and would've been able to go out and get more.
- Had I inventoried my freezer I would've known I hardly had any ground pork left, and would've ordered/bought more.
- Having some sort of backup meals in your freezer is awesome for when you come across this sort of situation where plan A doesn't work out.
- Had I inventoried my freezer I would've known that year-old tomato soup doesn't taste as good as 3 or 4 month old tomato soup, therefore I would've served it loooong ago.
See, here's the thing. Meal planning is great for so many reasons, one of the main ones being that it can save your butt when dinnertime rolls around. Instead of scrambling around to find something that will work, and then being disappointed that it tastes like freezer-burned doodoo, you can sit there all smug while your meatballs nicely bake in the oven.
Wanna know some more reasons why meal planning is so helpful? Read on my friend…
• It can reduce stress.
Be honest with yourself – around mealtime, is everything unicorns and rainbows or do you think you could save yourself a lot of stress by having a solid plan in place?The American Medical Association has noted that stress is the basic cause of 60% of all human illness and disease.
And it can:
cause things like chronic fatigue, grinding of teeth, IBS, hypertension, digestive disorders, weight gain, obesity, decreased sex drive, ulcers, anxiety, fibromyalgia, insomnia, premature aging, and heart damage.
And as if that wasn't enough, just chew on this one:
Researchers at the University of Miami found that when people are placed in stressful situations, they’re likely to consume 40 percent more food than normal!
So yeah, stress isn't the best for you. You probably have enough of it in your life already.
• It can help keep you on track for getting/staying healthy.
No one really sets out to be unhealthy. It's a side effect of being too busy and not having health as a priority.
If you meal plan, health can become a priority without much more expended effort.
In fact, that's so important let me say it again: If you meal plan, health can become a priority without much more expended effort. Instead of eating sodium- and chemical-packed processed meals because it's dinnertime and you don't know what to make, spending a few minutes at the beginning of the week and finding recipes that you know are really quick, healthy, and delicious can keep you on track. In fact, some healthy recipes (like this broiled fish recipe for instance) take LESS time to cook and barely any more prep than a processed meal.
• It can help save you MONEY!
When you get organized and know what you have, you don't need to constantly run out to get new stuff. You can use what you have. If you meal plan, you can basically shop around your pantry/fridge/freezer for meals that work into this. If you have 15 pounds of ground beef in your freezer, look for a recipe with ground beef to make this week. If you have a huge Costco-sized bag of frozen broccoli and cauliflower, find a recipe for broccoli-cauliflower soup!
Once you have a meal plan in place, remove what you will need from your freezer to thaw in your fridge or set aside any pantry items.Meal planning can also save you money in that you'll know exactly what you'll need for each meal you'll eat all week, so when you go to the grocery store you'll have a concise list of ingredients to get, and you'll be less tempted to buy stuff you don't need. Bonus: This also saves you TIME at the grocery store.
These days many stores even have online shopping experiences where you can choose what you want at home via a website and then have it put in your car when you arrive at the store. It doesn't get much easier than that – and meal planning can really help with that whole process.
• You get your time back to spend time doing what you love, with the ones you love.
Sure, meal planning takes a bit of time to do. But if you get organized and have a great system in place, it can take you less than 15 minutes a week and then think of how much time you'll get back around meal time! You won't be frantically searching through your cookbooks or running to the grocery store to get the last minute ingredients you need to make that recipe you just found on Pinterest. Instead, you can use that time productively or even to relax. Or maybe you know the new style of eating you want to do takes more time in the kitchen – while you might be trading frantic meal searching for cooking, you are still investing in your health and wellness. There is not much more important than that.
So you see, meal planning really is a KEY tool in eating healthy (and not eating freezer-burned year-old soup)
However, we often get caught up in the idea of meal planning and start out all gung ho, but then fall miserably flat on our faces because we don't have a good foundation in place. Starting off meal planning without this foundation is like building a house on top of a loose pile of rocks. The littlest shaking of this will set the house off kilter, and the same goes for our meal planning – it goes out the window when we get busy.
Instead, get that foundation completely in order with my Get READY to Meal Plan Challenge. This is a free 7-day set of emails that lead you through the steps that I think are essential for getting a good start on meal planning so that you don't stop when things get tough. You'll get all the templates, worksheets, and practical advice you need to have total meal planning success. Plus, if you get stuck you can always ask questions in my private Facebook group. Ready to get started? Click the pic below!