meal planning 101: why you should meal plan

I have been meal planning for years now; basically, since I graduated college. It has definitely evolved since then but I am always surprised by how many people my age still don't meal plan. I began to write only one post on this subject but then I realized I had so much to share. So this is the first of two posts!

I think one reason that people don't meal plan is they think it takes a lot of time. I will go over my process in the next post but I will tell you now that the more and more you do it, the quicker and easier it becomes. Plus, there are a TON of reasons you should do it. Here are my top reasons for meal planning:

It helps you eat healthy. If you pack your fridge full of healthy fruits, vegetables, and proteins, you are less likely to pick up carry-out on your way home because you have nothing to eat. Also, if you are planning ahead, you can intentionally plan for healthier meals.

It saves you money. If you prepare a list for the grocery store, you are less likely to buy stuff that you don't need. In addition to saving you money at the store, it also encourages you to eat at home versus going out to eat since the food is in your fridge.

It saves you time during the week. Yes, meal planning takes a little bit of time but I would rather put in that time beforehand than having to scramble when I get home from work to figure out what I am going to eat. Plus, if you know what meals you are making before the week even starts, you can do a little prep ahead of time to make cooking go a little quicker.

You produce less waste. You won't buy things that won't get used since you have a list. I also plan meals with similar ingredients so that I know I can use that up. On the flip side, if I have stuff that is leftover from the week before, I may try and make stuff at the beginning of the week with those ingredients.

Do you meal plan? What is your biggest obstacle with meal planning?