Why Is Meal Planning Important?

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Why Is Meal Planning Important?

Meal planning is one of those things that many people just don’t do.  Whether it’s because they haven’t thought about it, don’t think they need to or don’t know how.   Whatever the reason, it just isn’t getting done.

Have you ever heard of someone that stops each day on their way home from work, school activity, class or whatever to buy what they need for that evening’s meal.   I’ve often wondered whether they have any kind of plan or whether they are hoping that an idea pops into their heads while they are walking through the grocery store.  Also, what are they spending each time they shop and do they really need those things or are they just flying by the seat of their pants on this?

So why IS meal planning important?

Just like we have a plan within our homes for housework, laundry, appointments, and other activities, there needs to be a plan when it comes to meals.

1 Corinthians 14:40 says “But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” (NIV)

Does this apply to meal planning?  This verse is really telling us to have a plan.  In “everything” have a plan.

We are called to have a plan!

With a plan, anxiousness and anxiety are minimized.  There isn’t a frazzled feeling about what is or isn’t happening.  Having a plan keeps us focused on what needs to be completed.  A meal plan will also save money because you are buying what you need not what you’re hoping that you need.

There are several different approaches to meal planning.

Specific meals assigned to a specific day

An example of this might be –

Monday – Spaghetti

Tuesday – Mac & Cheese

Wednesday – Grilled Sandwiches & Soup

Thursday – Meatloaf

Friday – Pizza

Saturday – Fried Chicken

Sunday – Sunday Pot Roast

This approach definitely can keep the food budget consistent.  The costs are easy to predict and when something you use regularly is on sale, it can be simple to pick up a little extra to have in the pantry.

If you have a family doesn’t mind eating the same meals consistently, this works well.  With kids or picky eaters, this is a good approach because you know they will eat it (most of the time).

Themed Meals

Monday – Hamburger

Tuesday – Chicken

Wednesday – Mexican

Thursday – Sandwiches

Friday – Pizza

Saturday – Soup

Sunday – Pork

Additional themes might be Italian, Oriental, Mac & Cheese, casserole, etc.

This is a spin-off of the specific meals idea because you are still working within a relatively tight framework but allows for a little variety.

Sale Shopping

This approach requires a little more planning but can also be good on the budget.  It also encourages some creativity in your cooking.  Perhaps something is on sale that you’ve never tried before (or not often).  This method of planning may take you outside your comfort zone a little to try new recipes.

Shopping the sales may also give an opportunity to build your pantry/freezer inventory.  If there is an item on sale that you use often, buy extra to put in the pantry or freezer.  By doing this, you have things on hand for when that item isn’t on sale OR for a time when you need to eat out of your pantry without shopping (for whatever reason). 

As an example, if a particular meat is on sale (or 2 different meats), find recipes that use those meats.  Since meat is usually the most expensive part of any meal budget, this can help in that area.  If you don’t eat meat (or not much), you may plan meals around the vegetables and staples that are on sale.

Let’s say that hamburger is on sale.  Think of some ideas for meals that use hamburger but hopefully don’t feel like you’re eating the same thing all week.  Here are a few of mine –

Burgers (duh)

Tacos or taco salad


Tator Tot Casserole


Beef Noodle Soup



Egg Roll In A Bowl

Detailed meal planning

The last approach allows for as much or as little flexibility as you want but also takes a little more time.   It involves sitting down with your calendar and deciding what will be your meal(s) for that day/week/month and shopping accordingly.

If members of your family like to have input or want to be involved, this is a great way to do that.  It also allows for trying new recipes since you’re shopping according to the ingredients that you specifically need. 

Which is the right or wrong way?

There is no right or wrong way to meal plan.  Decide what works best for your family, your budget and your time.

No matter how you decide to plan, here are some steps to start your meal planning journey –

Make a list of your “go to” meals.  These are meals that you make often that you know your family enjoys.  By having this list readily available, you can prepare meals almost without thinking.  Ingredients for these meals are ones that I would definitely buy extra of when they are on sale.  Then anytime you need to prepare a meal that isn’t planned, you know that you’ll have ingredients for these meals.  If you need a form to get you started, you can grab one HERE.   

Decide how you are going to schedule your meals.  This could be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.  This may be based on when you get paid, opportunity to shop, or personal preference.  Again, think about works for your family and your schedule. 

Here are some weekly and monthly menu planning forms –






Don’t forget to plan breakfast, lunch and snacks into your planning.

Lastly, make your grocery list.    I like to make my list according to category – produce, dairy, frozen, etc.  This keeps me from running all of the store several times because I’ve forgotten something in a particular area.  This is the general grocery list form that I use.    Feel free to adapt it to suit your needs.

As with so much of homemaking (and life), it’s about what works best for you and your family.  If you’ve never done much meal planning before, you may need to tweak and make changes in order to find what works best.  Don’t be afraid to personalize and make it yours.  You know your family best!

Do you have any tips and tricks?  Maybe you still have questions.  Please let us know in the comments.



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