The Power of Meal Planning – 6 Reasons Meal Planning Will Change Your Life

In today’s blog post, we are talking about the power of weekly meal plans and how it can help you learn how to save money and time. “What should we eat?” “What’s for dinner?” Is there a question that is honestly asked more than those two? And, for some, it can be those dreaded questions…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 27, 2023

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

Weekly meal plans completely changed my life. Trust me, there are so many positives of meal planning and today I'll tell you all about them!In today’s blog post, we are talking about the power of weekly meal plans and how it can help you learn how to save money and time.

“What should we eat?” “What’s for dinner?”

Is there a question that is honestly asked more than those two?

And, for some, it can be those dreaded questions that may even make you want to scream.

After a long day at work, raising a family, or something else, it can be stressful to think about what you should make for dinner.

With the amount of food a person eats, these questions can even come up multiple times a day! So, how do you stop asking these questions while saving money?

The solution is that you should create a weekly meal plan!

So, what is meal planning?

Meal planning is when you list out exactly what meals you’ll make for the week. You create this meal plan before you shop so that you know exactly what you need to buy in order to make the meals.

And, yes, we meal plan too.

One of the areas that I’ve always struggled with is eating at home. I never feel creative enough to think of new meal ideas, I’m not patient enough to deal with a recipe that takes hours to prepare, and I often fall victim to the myth that eating out will just be easier.

Meal planning is something that has completely changed our lives. We eat healthier than ever, we save time, we are saving money, and we have less food waste.

If you have trouble eating at home, then try out $5 Meal Plan. They send meal plans directly to your email and I have included my review of them at the bottom of this blog post.

Related blog posts on weekly meal plans:

Here are the positives of weekly meal plans.

 

You can save money with weekly meal plans.

Creating weekly meal plans can help a family save money on groceries in multiple ways, which we will expand on further in the sections below.

These include:

  • You’ll spend less money on gas driving back and forth to the grocery store.
  • You’ll waste less food because you’ll know exactly what you need for meals.
  • You won’t buy as many extra snacks and items at the grocery store.
  • You’ll eat out less because you will already have your meals planned.

 

You’ll save time with weekly meal plans.

People spend a lot of time thinking about what they will make each night for dinner or even wandering the aisles at the grocery store trying to think of a meal.

And, we’ve all had to make trips back to the store because we’ve forgotten one or two items for that night’s dinner. So, instead of driving to the store every other day to buy the one or two items that you need for a meal, you can plan a whole week’s worth of meals and purchase everything that you need at once.

With a weekly meal plan, you’ll know exactly what you need, how much of that item that you need, and so on.

Meal plans tell you exactly what you need because it will all have been thought out ahead of time. Thinking about your weekly meal plan in one sitting is much easier and more time efficient than doing the same process every single day of the week.

 

There’s less food waste with weekly meal plans.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the average family of four spends around $700 to $1,000 a month on food. That’s a lot of money, especially considering that most families waste around 40% of food each month!

Yes, a lot of food is thrown away each month. Food spoils, leftovers are thrown away, too much food is cooked, and so on.

Meal planning is great for many reasons, and one of the big reasons is that it prevents food waste. By purchasing only what you need to make a meal, you will have less food waste.

Ever since we switched to creating weekly meal plans, we have had far less food waste because we know exactly what we need to buy each week in order to make our meals.

 

You’ll be able to better plan your grocery trips.

We’ve all gone to the grocery store and have bought random items that we thought would make a meal, then have gotten home and have wondered “what can I even make with this stuff?”

We often buy these random things because we shop without a grocery list, and that is also a bad idea because you generally won’t know what you need, how much you need, or anything like that. This may lead to you buying items that you then end up throwing away because you don’t use them before they spoil.

Shopping with a grocery list can also prevent you from purchasing unnecessary items because you’ll only go to the aisles and areas that are on your list, rather than scanning every single aisle and shelf in the grocery store.

This will also help prevent impulse purchases.

Before you head to the grocery store, you should plan your trip with a list and weekly meal plan. By doing so, you’ll be able to save money on groceries because your trip will be better planned for finding sales, deals, buying exactly what you need, and so on.

 

You can eat more healthy with meal plans.

Many people eat out because they are too tired to think of a meal to eat at home. This leads to eating unhealthy meals out or resorting to junk food to fill your stomach.

One of the great benefits of weekly meal plans is that you can create healthy meal plans for you and your family. With weekly meal planning, you’ll be less likely to eat out or to eat an unhealthy snack. Instead, you’ll have a healthy meal planned and ready for you to make!

 

Meal planning can allow you to create more diverse meals.

Do you ever get tired of eating the same meal over and over again?

By meal planning, you’ll be able to cook new meals because you’ll have thought about exactly what you need ahead of time. You won’t have to resort to the same meals over and over again when you’re too tired to think of a meal because the hard work has already been completed!

 

What do weekly meal plans look like?

A weekly meal plan can be whatever you want it to be. It can consist of every single meal that you make each week, just dinners, lunch and dinners, and so on.

For us, our weekly meal plan consists of the dinners that we will eat each week. This is because our breakfasts are always the same (eggs, fruit, and toast), lunches either consist of us going out to eat (we RV and like to try all the best lunch spots that we can in new towns!), leftovers, or something else easy like sandwiches.

Here’s a sample meal plan for us. It’s really this easy:

  • Monday – Tacos
  • Tuesday – Spaghetti with salad
  • Wednesday – Chili
  • Thursday – Chicken Teriyaki with white rice
  • Friday – Out to eat somewhere or with a friend
  • Saturday – Crockpot stew
  • Sunday – Steak with vegetables and salad

Creating a weekly meal plan is super easy, and it’s even easier if you use a meal planning service because they tell you exactly what to buy and what to eat.

To create our meal plan, I take my favorite recipes from $5 Meal Plan as talked about below, as well as mix in my own favorite meals, and/or something fun that I may have found on Pinterest that week.

 

The weekly meal plan solution – $5 Meal Plan.

$5 Meal Plan is a meal planning service that sends you a delicious meal plan and shopping list every single week for just $5 a month.

Sometimes I’m great when it comes to meal planning, but other times I am quite bad. To overcome this problem, I just have meal plans sent directly to me. I never understood this before, so I always skipped meal planning subscriptions because I thought I would just do the work myself. However, at $5 a month, with a lot of the legwork already completed, it is a GREAT idea.

The weekly meal plans are designed by Erin Chase of $5 Dinners and she’s able to make each meal for less than five dollars. They even have a gluten free menu planner version too!

$5 Meal Plan offers a 14-day, 100% risk free trial. I started using this meal planning service over one year ago and it has helped us eat at home more.

By signing up for a weekly meal planner, you can save money, time, and stress by having weekly meal plans sent directly to you.

With $5 Meal Plan, each week you will receive a menu that includes:

  • Five dinner entrees with sides – Each week they include one freezer friendly, one slow cooker, and one 20-minute meal.
  • They also include one lunch and one breakfast meal.
  • A random “goodie” each week – sometimes it’s a dessert, sometimes a beverage, and sometimes it’ll be a snack.

You can sign up for $5 Meal Plan here.

Do you create weekly meal plans? Why or why not? What meal planning service do you use?


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Hi Michelle,

    This is great post and I can attest to what you say here. When we started living on $150 for groceries, it was absolutely necessary that we planned out each meal. What planning also did was allow us to eat some meals twice in a given week, which saved us even more money sometimes. Plus, since you’re preparing and planning the meals, you can choose healthier options.

    I’ll make sure to share this one around.

    Take care,

    Dave

    PS: Sorry about that post above. Not sure why it did that. Retyped it all here. You can delete that first one. Thanks.

  2. Go Finance Yourself!

    I try to meal plan for the week and make as many meals ahead of time as possible. When it comes to breakfast and lunch during the week, I have a few different items that I rotate. Cuts down on the decisions I actually have to make during the week and frees me up to focus on the important decisions I need to make. As you mention, it’s also easier to eat healthy when you’re planning ahead and not deciding what to eat when you’re really hungry.

    1. Yes, cutting down on decisions is a big plus!

  3. Mustard Seed Money

    My wife and I do some meal planning each week. It’s not set in stone in case either one of us is in the mood for something else. So normally we plan out 4 out of the 7 dinners meals for the week and have enough back up food in the freezer in case we’re in the mood for something else.

  4. I love meal planning! It’s amazing how a little preparation can go a long way. It saves time, money, and energy, so I don’t plan on stopping it any time soon!

  5. Amanda @ centsiblyrich

    Yes to meal planning! It saves a ton of time and money – and really doesn’t take that much time to do. I like to prepare some of my ingredients for the coming week ahead of time (usually on Sunday) to give me a good start to the week. I chop all my veggies ahead so they’re ready to go.

  6. Absolutely agree with all these points! We use eMeals and love it. It’s nice to have the meals planned and the shopping list created automatically. Can also set a preferred grocery store and eMeals will modify the plan toward items on sale! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    Our food budget was actually the reason we started our debt-freedom journey. We used to pay $10/meal but now are under$2/meal! Meal planning works, y’all.
    I like to use my free library card to check out stacks of cookbooks. I take pictures of the recipes on my phone and sort through them each week while I’m making a menu. It’s hard for me to trust online recipes, but cookbook recipes rarely lead me astray. And that means less food waste. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Wow, great job! That is awesome.

  8. I completely understand ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Stuart @ Epic Quiver

    Great post! We recently cut off our meal subscription service but continue to pull the recipes off of their website every week to do our meal planning. By purchase no the groceries ourselves we have been able to get the average price per meal down to $2.67 and we now have left overs for lunch the next day.

  10. Good post! That $5 meal plan sounds like a great solution for someone who just can’t get themselves to meal plan. HOWEVER, I would still strongly encourage people to make their own meal plans so that they can tailor them to what ingredients they need to use up. There is a lot of value in having to take stock of your pantry and fridge on a weekly basis!

  11. Hi Michelle, tt’s really a good idea to plan your meals weekly. What I know about it is that it saves time basically. But, I’ve never thought it this way. While going through the article, I was thinking isn’t it a good idea for work at home moms to prepare snacks and other food items on a weekly basis for their toddlers. What do you think?

  12. I subscribed to the $5 Meal Plan about 5 months ago and love it. It helps me stay on track with meal planning and saving on groceries. I know I would have fallen off the meal planning wagon a long time ago if I had to do it myself all the time.

  13. Meal planning does wonders! We’ve been meal planning for years and it really helps us save money and eat healthier. The times we don’t do it, we eat out and spend more. It takes practice and discipline to do it but it’s worth it!

  14. Elle V.

    In our house dinner depends on The Fresh 20 meal plans. Using only 20 ingredients a week, My grocery bill is consistently less and the meals are way healthier than if I did it myself.

  15. I’m not sure what happened with my comment! I was saying that I’m OK with frozen pizza once a week and takeout roughly once every 2 weeks – with a coupon. Makes the plan a bit easier. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Great post! Our family dinners work best when we meal plan as well. I used to drive back and forth to the grocery store so many times before I decided to have a plan. Now one trip to the store and less random items in my grocery cart.

    Tacos are always on our list of meals too ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Great post!

    As someone who’s into fitness and weightlifting I’m quite used to planning my meals. I’d encourage everyone to pay attention to what and how much they’re eating – for health and weight control.

  18. Emma D

    Yes! Absolutely!

    I coach meal planning and show my clients how to develop a planning strategy they can keep to because there are sooooooo many wonderful benefits (as you listed above).

    What a great article.

  19. Angela Ter-Zakarian

    Yes! I admit to you 110%! The secret to healthy and clean eating is planning ahead. I completely agree with you about the convenience of preparing your meals for the entire week. I used to spend few minutes every night putting together my breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next day. This gives me such inspiration. But before we just haven’t gotten around to doing it. Adding to it I am not a great fan of leftover.
    This post gives a lot of information and inspiration! Thank you so much for sharing. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Cheers
    Angela

  20. I totally agree that meal planning is so important. It helps us plan ahead for a healthy dish instead of just settling to something that’s unhealthy. Recently I have discovered Prep Dish and it really is a great help in meal planning for a busy mom. I love it.

  21. I’m drinking Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother by Bragg nutrition mixed in 1 gallon of water. Doing cardio in the morning on the treadmill for at least 30 minutes. Watching my food, though I had Chicken fried rice today, crab rangoons, and beef lo mein. I had Tuna fish salad for a dew days straight and I was Jonesing for some on the side food today..lol

    I learned meal planning is good because as you spread the meals 3 hours apart, your metabolism works less to digest.