Having a good meal plan will make daily life so much easier and give you a host of benefits that comes from cooking homemade meals.
We understand far too well the struggles of cooking. After all, it’s not only cooking – there’s also writing the grocery list, driving to the store, buying your groceries, chopping and prepping, and then comes the cooking. That takes hours. And then the eating part only takes half an hour, after which follows the time to clean everything.
Experiencing this every day is enough to make you abandon all ideas of a cozy homemade meal at a nicely set table like most movies portray. You’ll want to run straight into the arms of the closest restaurant or take-out chain to spare yourself from countless hours spent preparing one meal.
However, we have a solution for you! And that is to meal plan. We’ll be honest up front and admit that with meal planning, you’ll still have to do the chopping and the cooking. But with meal planning, you’ll be able to eliminate the stress that comes with the above scenario and actually enjoy home-cooked meals.
6 Benefits of Meal Planning
1. Save Money
Meal planning helps you to save money, because you’ll know ahead of time what you’ll be cooking, and you’ll already have your grocery list ready to go. You’ll be able to plan meals around items that you already have at home, which means you won’t overspend on groceries, some of which will end up going bad and being tossed – the result of not following a list and buying too much. With meal planning, you buy what you need.
Knowing ahead of time what you’ll be cooking for the week will also save you from eating out and ordering take-out. American households average $3,000 per year eating out. Yikes! We’re sure you’d rather put that money somewhere else. This doesn’t only pertain to dinnertime. When you meal plan and make sure to include lunch leftovers, you’ll also save hundreds of dollars every month avoiding buying food near work.
With our meal plan service, each meal is an average cost of $3.92 per serving versus $12.75 spent on a ready-made meal. We’ve helped many of our members save money just through meal planning, and a bonus? Their homemade leftover lunches often inspire workplace lunch envy! 😉
2. Save Time
A lot of the time spent on cooking a homemade meal is not on the cooking itself. It comes from thinking about what to cook, making the grocery list, and shopping for items. If you plan ahead to cook freezer-friendly meals in bulk, you’ll be able to save trips to the grocery store and time during busy weeknights.
However, we believe saving time in the present is just as important as saving time in the future. This is how our meal plan service can save you even more time in the kitchen:
- A weekly menu sent straight to your inbox, already planned. Instead of spending hours browsing through recipes trying to decide what to make for dinner, we provide you with the full meal plan, including well-thought-out recipes and a grocery list.
- An option for grocery delivery. To save even more time or for days when grocery shopping just isn’t an option, you can take advantage of the convenience of grocery delivery with our Instacart integration.
- Meal prep tips and ideas. We also provide you with meal prep ideas so you can cut down your time in the kitchen after a long day at the office. Every one of our recipes comes with optional make-ahead steps that you can make over the weekend, so you can streamline your cooking process and get dinner on the table in a jiffy!
3. Waste Less
Around 40% of food is wasted in America and the average family throws away $2,200 worth of food every single year. We’re positive that you would rather have that 2 grand in your pocket than in the trash, which is where meal planning comes in. There’s nothing more annoying than opening your fridge and realizing that the tub of sour cream you bought is harboring mold. Or the bunch of chard that you had good intentions of eating is now a wilted pile of brown mush. By planning out all of the meals you will be cooking, you’ll ensure that no food gets left behind.
To make it even easier, though, we do all of this planning for you. We come up with a streamlined weekly menu that makes sure you are never left with part of a can of coconut milk or half a head of lettuce that will soon be tossed. We incorporate efficiencies into our meal plans to ensure that ingredients that aren’t usually used up in one go, get used throughout the week. Try 3 weeks of free meal plans to see how we can help you reduce food waste.
For an easy way to avoid food waste, print out our free Produce Shelf Life Guide to hang on your fridge for easy reference:
Produce Shelf Life Guide
Reduce food waste when you learn how to care for fresh produce.
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4. Stress Less
One of the most stressful things about cooking is when 5pm rolls around and you realize you don’t know what to cook for dinner. Whether you’re cooking for your family or for yourself, this is not a good feeling to have. That’s why having a meal plan in place can curb this unnecessary stress and allow you to slip easily into cooking time.
With our meal plan service, you can expect to lower stress levels even more, because we don’t just do the meal planning. We also want to make sure that you have the basics of cooking down, so that you’ll gain more confidence in the kitchen and feel less stressed when it comes to mealtimes. Every one of our meal plans is designed to help you grow, become a better cook, and never have to rely on recipes.
So if you forgot to buy an ingredient at the store or you’re not quite sure how to prepare a vegetable, you won’t feel an ounce of stress. We integrate video tutorials directly into each recipe so you can visually learn what a technique look like. Overall, we teach you how to cook, so that ingredients accommodate your needs and not the other way around.
5. Stay Slim
Everyone knows that home-cooked meals are healthier than eating out, because cooking at home gives you complete control over what you put into your body. Foods made in restaurants are great to indulge in every now and then, but they are laden with sugar, sodium, and fat – all of which can be controlled to your dietary needs when you make it yourself!
But cooking in itself is not always easy. It’s the meal planning part that keeps you motivated to continue cooking and stick to eating healthier. When you stick to a meal plan and enjoy more home-cooked meals, your body will start seeing results, whether you lose weight or feel physically and emotionally good overall.
To make things easier for folks who track nutrients, calories, and what they eat, we’ve taken things one step further to help you with your health goals. With every meal, you’ll find Weight Watchers Points, as well as more advanced nutrition facts than any online recipe will have. Our smart labeling allows you to see exactly which ingredients are giving you which fats, carbs, proteins, etc. This allows you reach your health goals by making simple cuts or substitutions to lower your calories on any meal you want. See this feature in action here:
Nutrition Info for Cook Smarts Meal Plans (Short Version)
Our nutrition label is extra smart to help you improve your nutrition knowledge.
6. Be Flexible
Some days, you’ll want to eat vegetarian. Other days, you want to indulge in a good ol’ steak dinner. Whatever it is, flexibility is important when it comes to mealtimes, so that it allows you to enjoy a variety of foods without getting bored. In fact, if you don’t meal plan, you’re actually more likely to eat the same meals! Think about it – if you are familiar with making spaghetti and tacos, chances are, you’re going to make them over and over again to save time from thinking of what to make. That means getting stuck in a dinner rut.
However, when you meal plan, you can plan to include new recipes. Perhaps on busy weeknights, you want to stick with a tried-and-true 30-minute recipe. And on weekends, you’ll have more time to experiment with a new dish or try that recipe from the new cookbook you just bought.
But if you don’t want to think about it at all, let us do the planning for you! With our meal plans, you’ll be able to experience a variety of dishes inspired from all around the world, and they are super easy to make, too. We made sure of that! No more making the same thing for dinner again; with us, you’ll be looking forward to dinnertime once again.
“I’ve only been using Cook Smarts for 3 days but it has absolutely changed my life. I am doing the weekend prep and I am loving cooking and learning new things.”
– Jillian G.
Meal Plan Service vs Meal Kits
Now that you know the benefits of meal planning, you may be considering an even easier option where you don’t have to do the meal planning yourself. In a society where busyness often rules the day, it’s great that quick and easy cooking options have popped up to bring home-cooked meals back into our lives.
Both weekly meal plan services and meal delivery kits (think Blue Apron and HelloFresh) can turn a hectic week into a breeze, but there are stark differences between the 2 options:
Meal kits are subscription boxes delivered to your door with pre-measured ingredients and cost around $9.99 per meal + shipping. On the other hand, a meal planner service (like ours!) provides weekly recipes, grocery lists, and cooking tutorials for a fraction of the cost.
Our meal plan subscription starts at just $6 / month, which equals $1.38 / week – that’s something anyone can afford when you look at all of the other ways it will save you money and give you back hours of time used to spend searching online for a decent recipe. For more details, check out our pricing and features here. For more reasons to go with a meal plan service instead of a meal kit delivery service, check out this article here: