Why using Real Plans weekly meal planning service has been a life changer for me.
First of all, why should you go to all the effort to meal plan?
I’ll share my story first, because I definitely haven’t always been a meal planner, unless it was one big meal, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or for a party of some kind. And I really needed some help. I couldn't manage to come up with a weekly meal plan on my own.
*If you want resources for meal planning on your own, click here.
I’d usually go to the store with a plan for that night’s dinner, then fill in with items I knew I was out of (I would make lists for those kinds of things) and staple items that I used all the time, like onions, carrots, lettuce, bread, cheese, rice, etc.
Then when it came time to cook dinner, I would have a plan for some nights, some nights I would do a shop that afternoon, for what I was missing from the dinner I wanted to make, or probably more often making dinner involved, looking in the fridge, then looking in the pantry, then deciding what I could make from it.
If I was out and about in the late afternoon or early evening taking kids to activities, I would often pick up some take out if I didn’t have a plan for dinner or feel I had time to cook.
As you can imaging, that involved more trips to the store, more eating out, and more wasted food, when I didn’t get around to cooking something I’d bought.
I had my moments of inspiration, making a big pot of soup and freezing half of it for a later meal, but mostly I was getting by and fairly happy doing it that way.
But then I needed to be more organized and intentional when I decided to put my son on a diet that I thought might help him with his sudden behavior issues. I came across a meal plan service that I thought would help.
Initially, the meal plan service consisted of recipes and a shopping list for the week being sent out via email a few days before the weekend. This was a whole foods meal plan, meaning there weren’t any highly processed foods in the ingredients lists, which helped because that was one of the main restrictions of my son’s “diet.”
There were healthy foods that we had to eliminate for a while, when they were on the meal plan for the week, I would adapt. Soon after I joined they began upgrading, and currently Real Plans* meal subscription service is much more sophisticated, yet still simple to use.
I found using a meal subscription program beneficial beyond keeping my son eating the foods allowed on the diet.
*I am an affiliate of the program, but only because I really believe in it and feel like it's been a life changer for me!
Seven benefits you might experience when using a meal plan service:
1. Achieving your health goals – I’ll admit right here that I eat pretty well most of the time, but…if I’m hungry and there are yummy, unhealthy foods around, it will take major willpower to not eat those foods. For example, if I go to my local market hungry, the first thing I see are Barbara’s natural cheese puffs. They aren’t the worst thing in the world, but I definitely don’t need them and they probably have very little nutritional value.
This also works at home. Don’t have foods in your house that you don’t want to eat. Meal planning helps to plan for healthy eating. Real Plans is great because first of all, the recipes are healthy and delicious, and second, there’s quite a bit of customization that can be done if for example you don’t eat gluten containing foods or dairy.
2. Saving money – This is a big one. When you plan your meals for the week, you buy what you need and not what you don’t. You can even take it a step further if you’re on a budget and want to research what’s on sale and where.
You’ll also save money on potentially eating out, if you’re like me and go for what seems like an easy option if you don’t have a plan.
3. Saving time – I could have almost put this one first! I spend about fifteen minutes on the Real Plans website on Friday evening or Saturday morning before I go to the Farmer’s Market. I look at what they’ve preloaded for the coming week. I move things around, take off any recipes that my family or I won’t like, and add in any favorite meals. I head to the Farmer’s Market to get what I can there. If I’m lucky, I hand off the updated list to my husband to shop for the rest.
Throughout the week, I only have to decide which of the dinners on the list I want to make. There are very few last-minute trips to the store, and it’s so much easier to prepare meals when you don’t have to shop for them the same day.
4. Improving your family’s health – this is the reason I started using the meal plan, and it really does work. Not only did it help when I was working with restrictions in my son’s diet, but it helped when I wanted to eliminate gluten and also a year and a half ago when my son became vegetarian.
Both of my kids eat a wider variety of foods now as well. My kids are fifteen and twelve now, and we’ve been working with the plan for almost five years.
5. Reducing waste – When you buy food for planned meals, you reduce the amount of food you waste. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has composted or thrown away spoiled vegetables from the produce drawer when they didn’t make it onto anyone’s plate.
I’m not perfect. I don’t manage to do the weekly planning and shopping every single week. I do notice a huge difference when I don’t plan.
6. Less Stress – When I know I have food in the house to make dinner, I am much less stressed. After finishing a day of work, or running around, it’s hard to feel energized for cooking dinner, even if you like to cook. When you only have to pick from amongst five or six meals and start, it feels much easier. I find that once I’ve started cooking, I gain momentum.
And like I wrote in this article, going out to eat isn’t really faster unless you’re getting really unhealthy fast food.
7. More Variety – I think most people can get stuck in a rut of making the same meals over and over which isn’t fun for you as the cook or if you’re cooking for others, for them. I’ll focus on you though. It’s a lot more fun to cook new foods. If your partner or family is bored with the meals, chances are that you’re bored, too.
I like learning new recipes or styles of cooking, although I do have my favorites that I still mix in.
In the video below, I share a favorite family meal I made with variations of Real Plans recipes.
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Hi, I’m Crystal!
If you'd like to access my Farmer's Market Friday posts from 2018, click here!