To coincide with the launch of the Planning With Kids Free Menu Planner, I thought I would list the reasons why I think menu planning works so well (benefits) and encourage you to give it a try if you are not already in the habit of menu planning.
- It saves money. By planning the meals for the week or fortnight (or if you are really keen, for the month) you can purchase all the required ingredients at one time at the supermarket. No more rushed trips, where you end up buying much more than you intended. Also as you only buy what you need, there is less wastage as well.
- Supports healthy eating. As you have the ingredients on hand and you have already thought of what to cook, you are much less likely to substitute your planned meal for take away or a less healthy home cooked option (eg toast!)
- Encourages family involvement. By sitting down once a week/fortnight/month to plan your family meals, every family member can be involved in choosing what the family eats. My children input regularly to the menu plan. This helps in two ways, firstly, I don’t have to think as much! and secondly the children know that a favourite of theirs is included in the weekly menu plan and I receive far less complaints about what I am cooking.
- Decreases stress levels. The late afternoon / early evening time with small children can be fraught with over tiredness, tears and whining. To try and think of what to cook and perhaps even have to leave the house to purchase ingredients to make the meal, seems to me an unnecessary addition of stress to the house. Menu planning eliminates this stress.
- Supports regular eating of meals together. If left to the last minute, it can be very tempting to whip something up quickly for the kids and then another meal later for mum and dad. By having planned what to cook in advance, you are so much more likely to sit and eat as a family. There has been so much research conducted on the importance of shared family meal times that I think this reason alone is strong enough to make sure you give menu planning a try.
- Takes into account life’s busy times. I always plan our weekly meals with the calendar close at hand. For days when we have after school activities, I make sure that I plan a meal that can be prepared earlier in the day. So when we arrive home and it is already dinner time, all I have to do is heat the meal for us.
- Helps keep variety. Planning the weekly meals means that you can ensure efficient use of food, but still keep variety by using the same ingredients in different combinations and with different accompaniments for example rice, couscous or pasta.
- Saves time. Like a lot of tasks, the thought of sitting down and menu planning is actually worse than the deed itself. Once you get going you can quickly choose meals for your family (with their help) and it actually takes a lot less time, than considering the question “What will we have for dinner?” every day.
- Allows you to take advantage of specials. When you sit down to menu plan, you can do so with the supermarkets catalogues in front of you and can select meals that use ingredients that are on sale/special.
- Increases capacity to cope with the unexpected. You cannot plan everything when it comes to children. By planning those elements that which are an essential part of your day (like eating), if you have had to race children to the doctor’s or have friends drop in, at least you have comfort in knowing what is for dinner and that you have all the required ingredients.
And menu planning is now even easier with the Planning With Kids Free Menu Planner. If you are new to menu planning check out my “Launching Free Menu Planner” post for all the information you will need. If you give it a try, I would love to hear how it went, by either leaving a comment here or sending me an email via the contact form.