I mean seriously, what full time working mom actually has time to meal plan? She must have nothing better to do.
Believe it or not these are misconceptions around meal planning are far too common. And couldn’t be further from the truth.
I blame social media lol. Just kidding, but for real when you look on social and see a full fridge (clean by the way) with colorful healthy meals in matching containers for the whole family it’s a little intimidating.
However, I’m here to tell you that you can do the same thing, just on a more realistic scale but you need to understand the benefits of it first.
Meal planning vs meal prepping
There’s a difference between meal planning and meal prepping.
Planning is knowing what you’re going to eat ahead of time and prepping is preparing the foods or most of the leg work ahead of time.
I’m sure you’ve heard about the whole meal planning thing but don’t really see what the big deal is.
There’s more to it than making healthy choices it actually relieves a lot of stress eating and stress in general throughout the week.
Right now, without planning or prepping you are spending too much time and money trying to play catch up or just in time meals.
Busy is a mindset
Being unprepared leads to a mindset of chaos and causes hurried stress whether you realize it or not.
As a result you make poor health choices when going for something quick and easy but guess what? It doesn’t have to be that way.
Those prepped and prepared meals will make it quick and easy.
Keep reading because I’m going to discuss 3 different types of time you will be saving and giving back to yourself and your family.
So let’s stop the cycle of feeling busy and guilty for choosing the wrong foods in a pinch.
No more being upset for spending way too much money and going over budget because you lacked a plan and dang it’s so easy to swipe a debit card these days!
Time is relative
You may think you’re saving time by just in time cooking because you perceive meal planning and prepping as taking too much time.
I’m here to bust that stinkin’ myth wide open mama.
I understand what it’s like to feel robbed of your quality time because of chores and cooking. That’s why I wrote this post on saving time in the kitchen after work.
I wanted to dive deeper and give more value on the topic.
We all have to eat so these are some positive ways to understand how meal planning and prepping relieves stress and adds efficiency to your life.
3 Reasons why you should be meal planning and prepping
1. Saves time
Which meal time strikes you as the most time consuming?
Remember, time is relative. What’s wasted time to one is quality time to another.
It doesn’t have to be the time to prepare and cook but it can also be the time it requires to think.
Below are three types of time enhanced by meal planning and prepping.
1. Thought time:
Meal planning and prepping takes thought work out of your day.
Your mind is freed from having to figure out what to eat and how to make it.
It’s a done for you system and all you have to do is set it and forget it.
Creating the mental head space frees you up to be more present in life.
For example, it’s actually more annoying for me to come up with quick healthy snacks for myself and my toddler than baking some chicken and veggies that’s sitting there waiting on me.
2. Action time:
For me, a close second is breakfast but this one focuses on the time it takes for me to prepare it.
Typically it’s a no brainer for me to cook up a few eggs and toast but when you add morning into the mix forget it.
I’m usually half asleep with a toddler in tow. It’s also one of the busiest times for working moms. When there’s a lot going on it saves time to simply do less.
3. Intrusion time:
Preparing dinner during the week can intrudes on my after work bonding time with my family.
I would much rather prep ahead of time than spend it in the kitchen.
On the other hand, life distractions may prevent you from working through an entire recipe without instrusion.
Urgh so many times have I had to re-cook a recipe, start over or go to plan B because I kept getting distracted. So frustrating.
2. Saves money
I love this one because I used to be super skeptical.
Go grocery shopping with a plan, a list and a satisfied stomach and you will not buy groceries you don’t need.
That will save you from throwing out food that goes bad or eating unhealthy choices as well.
Put yourself on a budget and only research meals that meet your financial requirements.
For example, you can research a healthy grocery list with recipes for one week under $50 or something like that.
3. Boosts your health
In a nutshell, the health benefits of meal planning and prepping include decreased stress and making healthier decisions while you’re in your right mind.
Ya know, not hangry. Making such healthy decisions ahead of time while you’re thinking logically, not hungry or craving anything is the goal.
They say a goal without a plan is just a wish.
You can have a goal of eating healthier all day long, but we all know how a stressful day at work goes when it’s lunch time and we have to go out for lunch for whatever reason.
My point is it’s not that you can’t make good decisions when you’re stressed and hungry. Of course you can. You can do anything.
Meal planning and prepping is all about relieving yourself of the option to even go in the unhealthy direction of stress and stress eating in the first place.
It’s taken off your plate…see what I did there? lol.
Your meal planning and prepping challenge
Create a meal plan and prepare the food ahead of time to last one week. If that’s too much then just do three days in a row and let me know how it goes.
Journal your thoughts and emotions around meal and snack time. Do this both when you meal planned and prepped and when you didn’t.
Okay so with this understanding you should be feel more confident. You just need to practice it to get the hang of it and add it to your schedule.
Yes, it takes work on the front end but think of the hours of quality time and mental clarity you’re rewarded with throughout the entire week.
Less stress and more time
Less stress and more time during the week to do what you want? Yes please!
If your kids are older maybe have them help you with the planning and prepping. If they have a say in it they may be more supportive and happy to eat what they picked.
You can try this! Don’t disappoint your future self. Break that cycle.
You see, there really is more to meal prepping and planning then a time consuming activity.