Earlier this year my girlfriend and I stopped improvising dinner every night, and started meal planning together every week. So far, it’s been an amazing change. Here’s a short list of benefits:
- Leftovers for work lunches are naturally planned into the week – fewer reasons to buy food out at lunch!
- We visit the store less frequently
- We are never forced to have the “what do you want to have for dinner?” conversation
- We’re more aware of how often we prepare certain foods, we can be more balanced
- We’re able to be more conscious of making healthy meal choices and adding vegetables to meals
- We’re sharing cooking duties more evenly
- We’re splitting food costs evenly
A big mental hurdle for me, and one of the reasons we didn’t start doing this years ago, was the trouble of sharing grocery costs, and our difference in grocery shopping styles. We have separate finances, and we had different ideas on how often to shop and what to buy on a grocery outing (and even when to go – who wants to make a special car trip on the weekend?!). Part of starting this planning effort included reconciling our different approaches, and working out the details (compromising – yikes!). Not only has this new habit been good for our food planning, but it’s had a bonus effect on our communication skills.
Because I’m a giant nerd, we are using software to manage our meal planning efforts, as well as to share the grocery expenses. For the meal planning, we’re using a website called Plan To Eat. There is a minor subscription fee, but the interface is well done, and it makes organizing recipes and each week’s meal plan incredibly easy – I am happy to pay them $39/year for their nicely built software. If you’re interested in giving it a try, feel free to sign up using my referral link (if you become a customer, I’ll receive a small commission). For cost sharing, we’ve started requesting & sending each other money on Venmo for all shared grocery expenses. This may seem a little silly from an outside perspective, but it’s working for us right now, until we make the big move toward more shared finances across the board.
The Meal Planning Savings
IN addition to all of the other benefits, meal planning over the last few months has definitely saved us money.
- We buy less at lunch, because of planned leftovers
- We plan “leftover” night into the calendar, so we waste less food through spoilage
- We plan for cheaper meals than we would when winging it
What is your approach to meal planning?