You can benefit from meal planning in several ways. The most obvious points, and probably the most important ones as well, are related to the money spent each month on groceries, cooking healthy and nutritious meals, and managing the time spent in the kitchen efficiently to avoid stress in the evenings after work.
When you do grocery shopping, save the receipts. At the end of every month I take my receipts and enter them into a spreadsheet (someone might now say there are apps for this). But by looking at each receipt I remind myself of what I have bought during the month. In the beginning I entered the receipts daily or weekly, because then it was possible to take corrective action in time, if I was spending too much money at some point. Now I know that by doing the grocery shopping in accordance with the current routines, the amount spent at the end of the month will be what I budgeted and expected. Having lots of receipts means more work, so every time I want to buy something my first thought is “is this something I need or is it just a feeling that I want it”. If I have overspent, I know whom to blame (only myself). By analyzing the contents of the receipts I can come up with new ideas – i.e. areas of improvement.
So how much is the grocery budget? I know I spend 400 euros on groceries every month (including soap, toilet paper etc.). The budget includes 3 persons, one adult and two kids. Before this book-keeping system I could just guess, and my estimate wasn’t very accurate and truthful. It could be possible to spend less on groceries, but I want to make sure I eat healthy food. Saving too much on groceries can end up in higher medical bills and health issues..
By doing meal prep you know what you eat. If you are on a special diet, it’s even more important to know the ingredients used. Snacks can also be prepared and they can consist of carrots instead of chocolate bars (yes, the taste is not the same, but one gets used to things after a while).
If you are busy during the weeks, do meal prep e.g. on a Sunday when you know you have enough time. Do grocery shopping when you are not tired, busy or hungry. Instead of standing in front of the stove on Monday evening there are plenty of other activities you can do – why not go to the gym or out for a walk to exercise before having a homemade healthy meal that’s waiting in the fridge?