Deciding what to eat every single day can become a monotonous task. The repeated question of “What do you want for dinner?” can increase stress, frustration and resentment towards the whole meal planning and cooking process. Planning meals and snacks for the week can provide some relief with this repetitive job. Meal planning can also be a useful tool to save significant money and time and reduce the stress of thinking what’s for dinner. The money you save from last-minute meal deliveries, takeaways and other convenience foods can be a way to put money away for some self-care activities such as weekend getaways.
Do I have to meal plan?
Meal planning can be daunting for some people, and that’s ok. Certain people prefer to decide on the day what they want to eat, especially if their food preferences and tastes vary day-to-day based on how they are feeling. If that works for you and your family, you don’t have to convert to being a meal planner. If it is something you’ve always wanted to try though, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to plan everything to the smallest detail. There are many versions or “levels” of meal planning that can benefit you and your lifestyle.
Different levels of meal planning
Most people think of pre-decided locked in meals and snacks when they think of meal planning but that doesn’t have to be the case. There are a few ways you can go about meal planning to allow room for flexibility but still get the benefits.
- The “Meticulous” Planner
If you love to plan each breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack down to the last crumb, this might be you. A meticulous meal planner thinks about what is on during the week in terms of schedules, which day needs a quick meal or leftovers and who is going to cook. This type of meal planning has the most money saving power (especially if you stick to your shopping list) but also has the least flexibility.
- The “Served Someday” Planner
Spaghetti Bolognese will be eaten this week, I’m just not sure what day I’ll make it. If that sounds like something you would say, you might be a “Served Someday” Planner. You know what meals are going to be cooked, but you’ll decide on the day which one you’ll make. This can be useful for people whose schedules can vary day-to-day, or for those who like to have an idea of what they’ll make, with room to adjust depending on your palate preferences that day.
- The “Flexi Foody” Planner
The flexi foody is someone who has an idea of what type of meal they are going to make, but with no set plan for the ingredients. For example, Tuesday is always taco night, but you’ll decide closer to the date if that’s beef or chicken or soft or hard-shelled tacos. This plan works well in addition to a menu plan cycle (e.g., having two broad menu plans that you alternate between).
- “The Plan Is No Plan” Planner
The “The Plan Is No Plan” planner is exactly how it sounds- there is no plan. Maximum flexibility, minimum money saving. The “The Plan Is No Plan” Planner goes to the shops every 1-2 days to pick up ingredients for what they feel like. Sometimes that results in having 3 kg of carrots because you forgot you already have some at home. Type A personalities, look the other way!
How can one of our Dietitians help?
The team a Dietwise can help identify where you sit among the different meal planners and provide strategies if you would like to move up or down a level. They can also:
- Provide education on how to meal plan that is tailored to you and your family’s needs
- Provide meal planner templates depending on the type of meal planner you are
- Provide balanced and substantial meal and snack ideas, based on your individual requirements
- Discuss money-saving tips specific to how you shop
- Offer a more tailored experience if you have goals around food shopping and meal planning with our Supermarket Tour
- Lots more!
If you want to learn more about meal planning, reach out today to our Dietwise Care Coordinators to get started by contacting us on – 08 9388 2423 or email@example.com. You can even contact us through our website here. We are open 6 days per week for in-person and Telehealth appointments including both after-hours and Saturdays.
Accredited Practising Dietitian