If you're feeling disorganized lately or like you're in constant survival mode when it comes to food: here are the 5 tell-tale signs that it's probably time for you to start meal planning.
I know, I know. It sucks to hear that one solution that you know will solve your problems because it means that you actually have to face them. I'll admit that I haven't always been a fan of tough love myself. But you know what, most of the time I wouldn't have gotten my sh** together if those around me didn't give me tough love. So let's get into it.
Sign #1 - You're sadly looking in your fridge after you get home to find nothing but your ketchup bottle and a sad apple.
Yup, I've been there. If you have too, you know that it's a very sad feeling that only makes you feel disappointed in yourself and hungry - unless you order takeout.
Meal planning even just once a week, or even once a month, and hanging it up on your fridge will help you get excited about the recipes coming and more motivated to keep good food in your fridge.
Imagine how great it would feel to get home each night after a busy day of work or before your kids' activities and know exactly what you'll be eating. That's when meal planning will help you out.
Sign #2 - Wandering the grocery store aisles aimlessly for hours.
There's almost no other hopeless feeling like walking into the grocery store and not even knowing which aisle to hit up first because you have absolutely no idea what you want to eat during the week.
I think we all know the routine of finishing work on a Monday or Tuesday and realizing you have no food at home, so you stop at the grocery store on the way home with no plan. Then, you usually go down every aisle (hungry, may I add) grabbing a bunch of random ingredients with maybe one recipe in mind. Two days later, you're in the same boat because that one recipe lasted you only a few meals.
While meal planning, making grocery lists is what will help you know exactly what you'll need for multiple days and recipes. Having an idea of what you need at the grocery and planning to only go grocery shopping once a week will also eliminate this lost and hopeless feeling.
Sign #3 - Lacking the motivation to cook delicious and new food
If you're like most people, you have 5-10 recipes that you always resort back to because they are what you know. You either don't want to or can't add more creativity to your life. It's hard, I know. Whenever you do have the motivation to try out a new recipe, you find a great one on Pinterest and end up buying a bunch of new ingredients that pile up in your pantry and you never use again.
When you meal plan, you can plan to try one new recipe a week to accompany your regular menu so you get excited to cook again but it's not too overwhelming.
Additionally, if you find you're getting a lot of special ingredients for that one new recipe, be sure to add recipes to your meal plan that also use those ingredients so you are not wasting anything.
Sign #4 - Constantly overspending at the grocery store or on takeout.
Sorry, I hate to put you on the spot. It happens and it's not a terrible thing. I refuse to make anyone feel bad for buying takeout when you're desperate, need a night off from cooking, or just want to support your favourite restaurant. You do what you need to do!
However, if you find yourself ordering takeout multiple times a week (with guilt...), then it's probably a sign that you may need to start planning a bit more. I'm only telling you because I also hate that disappointed and guilty feeling. And let's be honest, takeout is not cheap these days...
Planning for most of your meals to be home-cooked or at least just planning what meals you'll be eating throughout the week at home will allow you to know what to expect and grocery shop to make sure you don't run out of food. Then, you can plan to get takeout or dine out one or two nights a week and do so intentionally. In this case, you'll make sure you're following your budget as well.
Sign #5 - Overbuying ingredients only for you to find them rotten or in the back of your fridge a month later.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. It is usually a result of disorganization and stopping at the grocery store multiple times throughout the week with no plan.
It sucks to be in this position because especially now, groceries are very expensive and letting things go bad is literally throwing your money away. Also, every ingredient is a product of a farmer's or employee's hard work somewhere along the supply chain - and that's not great either. I'm bad for this sometimes so don't feel bad, but I will say that meal planning reduces this waste.
By creating weekly meal plans and grocery lists, and only buying what you need for the meal plan on your once-a-week grocery shop, you'll only buy what you need and know exactly how much you need.
Tip: another way I like to make sure I don't waste the food in my fridge is to meal prep what I can when I have a couple of hours - or minutes - as well as store my food in clear containers so I reminded of what I have in my fridge/pantry.
If any of these signs struck a chord with you and you've realized it may be time to get organized, I highly recommend you start meal planning so that you feel more organized and dodge some of these struggles.
If you're looking for a little guidance to start, or you struggle with these signs but can't take them on yourself, my meal plans are just what you need! Included in the meal plan are 4 weekly meal plans, weekly grocery lists, meal preparation checklists, and exclusive recipes that are both classics and new fun recipes that will shake up your menu!
You can get my Summer 4-Week Meal Plan right now for just over $22 until May 31st!
Let's get you feeling confident in your meal-planning abilities and get you back into enjoying your time in and outside of the kitchen!