By Ruth Hoey | Advice Editor
Meal planning, for a lot of people, can feel intense and difficult to maintain. To the beginner in this area, it seems almost an unobtainable goal which is time consuming and unnecessarily complicated. From choosing what to cook and sticking to a routine, for many students, it doesn’t feel worth it.
However, there are many different forms of meal planning and prep which could be very helpful for the student lifestyle.
For some people, meal planning means bulk cooking your meals on the first day of the week and portioning them ready to go for the week ahead. For others, meal planning means making a timetable of meals and working out which days they will eat them on. And sometimes, meal planning simply means deciding on two or three meals which you would like to cook in the week.
Whichever form of planning you choose there are definitely pros (and some cons) to incorporating it into your student life.
Deciding what you’re are going to eat and on which days can be cost effective. Meal planning makes it easier to do one food shop per week. This in turn stops you from pooping to the shops everyday buying new, and sometimes unnecessary, items.
Helps Maintain a Budget
On that note, it makes budgeting a dream. Planning your meals allows you to keep track of your spending. All of your grocery purchases are made at the same time. Thus, you are less likely to buy things you don’t need.
Less Effort to Decide on Meals
We all know the struggle of having to decide what to eat. When you’re living in a student house, it’s up to you to decide what to eat every single day. Meal planning at the beginning of the week fixes this problem. Each night you will know exactly what you will be eating. There’s no stress involved!
Meal planning can lead to healthier meal choices. Actively seeking meals to prepare will be a healthier choice. The alternative is often deciding that you don’t want to cook and eating a pot noodle instead.
Cuts Down Food Waste
Meal Planning helps to avoid food going to waste. When you’re deciding in advance what to eat it’s easier to understand how much food to buy. In this way you can buy the correct amount of food. You won’t be buying too much and struggling to finish it all before it goes out of date.
However, there are a few cons to be aware of:
Takes time and effort
Getting into the habit of meal planning takes getting used to. It requires thought to plan out exactly how many meals you’ll need for the week and in which order to cook them. Also, then you will need to prepare a shopping list of all the necessary items. Making sure you have everything will take some practice.
Can be Expensive
In most cases this isn’t the case. However, if you are not committed to the meal plan you have created, it can be expensive. Buying all the items for your prepared meals and then extras for things you picked up outside of your plan is not student budget friendly. Therefore, it does take dedication and commitment to stick to a meal plan.
So what’s the Reality of Meal Planning?
The reality is that meal planning is very helpful. On a student budget, planning can save you money when it’s done correctly. Whether you want to precook all of your meals for the week or just decide on what you want to eat for the week beforehand, it can all be helpful.