I am the type of person that often gets cravings. And when I crave a particular food, nothing else satisfies me until I eat that one thing I’m craving. This has always made meal planning difficult.
This past April, my husband and I did the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University. We learned a lot from the course,and the thing I took away that has helped me the most is meal planning. Yes, I still have cravings that take my meal plans for a turn, but overall I’m much better at planning meals, and sticking to them.
There are a few reasons meal planning is working better for me now, than it use to. First, I have a lot of dietary restriction, and I have finally become more serious about the things I put into my mouth as a result of this. I realized that I need to be more attentive to the things I am allergic to so that I am around for my children. Because I have had to cut a lot of foods out of my diet, it means I no longer crave the things that cause me problems. Of course the first few weeks of cutting things out of my diet was very difficult, but after about two weeks, my cravings greatly diminished.
Second, planning meals helps us to keep our budget in check. Before we started planning meals, we ate out a lot, mostly out of laziness, and who isn’t lazy at times? We still enjoy eating out, but now we plan ahead for the times that we do eat out, and we factor that into our budget as well.
The third reason meal planning has become easier, is that I plan meals with similar ingredients so that it makes my shopping easier, and I find that less food goes to waste in my refrigerator. Of course we still find the random fuzzy thing that’s grown in the small container in the back of the fridge, but I’m sure everyone finds those on occasion.
Tonight we planned out our meals for the next two weeks, and I feel some relief knowing that most of our ingredients we will be cooking are already in our pantry, except for the fresh vegetables, and a few other items that we will need from the store. We have become much better about planning our meals around food in our pantry, which is nice because know I know what staples we have on hand and what we need to buy.
Figuring out what is in the pantry, and the refrigerator, what we need to buy, and how much money we have in the budget, is like a puzzle. I like puzzles, although sometimes this puzzle can be stressful. Normally we plan one week of meals, but this week we planned for two, mostly because we are stretching our budget this month and want to make sure we don’t go over. So the food puzzle for the next two weeks was a little stressful, but seeing on paper, what we have, and what we need to buy helps me to visualize getting to the end of the month.
I’m now going strong on nine months of meal planning, and I’m proud of what we have accomplished by planning ahead. It was not easy when we first started, but now it comes more natural. There are a lot of things you can find on meal planning. One of the popular sites used is called eMeals and this is one that Dave Ramsey recommends too. I do not use this site, but seeing how things were organized gave me so good tips for how to plan my meals.
If you like to organize, Pinterest has some great meal planning tools. If you’ve ever thought about meal planning, I encourage you to stick with it. Stick with it until you find something that works for you.