As a working mom menu planning and freezer cooking are essential to providing my family with healthy nutritious meals. They have also been two of the key strategies in my weight loss journey.
Menu planning in basic terms is the act of consciously planning out and preparing ahead of time the meals you will consume each day. Freezer cooking is taking those prepared meals and freezing them to eat at a later date.
To experience the full benefits of menu planning and freezer cooking I recommended planning and preparing 1-2 weeks worth of meals at a time. If you are just starting out do what feels comfortable and fits into your lifestyle because you will see the benefits of meal planning and freezer cooking regardless.
The benefits I have experienced through menu planning and freezer cooking are:
1. Ensure healthy nutritious home cooked meals for my family. In the past, without a plan for dinner, I would get home from work look around the kitchen then grab the phone and order a pizza. Or I would find myself purchasing prepackaged frozen foods or easy foods like hot dogs to whip up for the kids. Today, by planning ahead, I control the ingredients in my family’s diet and know exactly what they will be eating daily. In the morning I take dinner out of the freezer and within minutes of getting home from work a healthy home cooked meal is ready for us.
2. Monitor calories and nutrition. Menu planning puts the control back in your hands on how you consume food. Meals and snacks can be portioned out to meet you daily caloric and nutritional needs. This was especially important at the start of my weight loss journey because I was naive as to what and how much I was actually eating. Once my food and nutrition knowledge grew I did not need to depend so strictly on planning out every calorie although it is still helpful when I find myself getting off track.
3. Stress reduction. Busy moms have enough to worry about everyday without adding on the stress of “what’s for dinner mom”. As I stated earlier, with menu planning you know what is for dinner and it is already prepared waiting for you. Doesn’t that sound heavenly?
4. Time saving. Since I started planning and freezing our meals in advance I only do serious grocery shopping once every 2-3 weeks. I still have to do some light shopping for perishables such as milk and fresh fruit but my time in the grocery stores has drastically reduced.
5. Money Saving. Menu planning and freezer cooking assists tremendously in trimming down the grocery budget. By planning out meals and cooking them a couple weeks at a time you can purchase items in bulk and only what you need. This has drastically reducing if not eliminated wasting food in my home.
At first glance menu planning and freezer cooking can seem a bit overwhelming though once you begin you quickly wonder how you ever survived without it. To assist other moms in embracing the beauty of these strategies I will offer regularly at Skinny Moms Kitchen more menu planning and freezer cooking tips along with sample menu plans and recipes that are easy to make and freeze perfectly.