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Ok. First things first. Working from home is amazing. But it does come with challenges. You might feel lonely, easily distracted, or be starting to put on weight. I wrote about these challenges in a recent blog post. But today I want to show you how meal planning can help you overcome some of the challenges you’re facing while working from home and improve your work-life balance. And I want to give you my FREE printable weekly meal planner!
Meal planning involves deciding ahead of time what you’re going to eat each day. You can do it a week or month in advance or even just a couple of days in advance. Lisa Tanner even has an annual meal plan! Meal planning can save you time, ensure that you eat healthier, and save you money.
I think everyone should meal plan, whether they work from home or not. But I think it can have an additional benefit for those of us who work from home: it can ease your guilt that you should have everything under control since you’re at home. Knowing what you’re going to cook for dinner (even if it’s not on the table by the time everyone else gets home) is one less thing to stress about.
Here’s why you should start meal planning.
Helps you stay healthy
This is something that I’ve been struggling with lately. In 2016 I lost 50 Ibs. At that time, I was still working for a bank. You would think it would be easier to eat healthy when you work from home, but actually, I find it more difficult. Temptation is all around me. The cupboards have far too many sweet treats in them and not enough healthy fruit.
It’s easy to drop the ball on healthy eating when you’re ten feet from a kitchen filled with delicious food.
I’m determined not to put on weight again, so I’m going back to what helped me lose weight in the first place. Meal planning! Knowing exactly what you’re going to eat for the day will help you steer clear of temptation and make better choices.
Spending a bit of time on a Saturday or Sunday to plan your meals out for the week is a great way to stay on track.
- If you do this, you should have cupboards filled with good food and a plan for what to do with it.
- You won’t finish work for the day and then panic about what you’re going to eat before ringing for takeout.
- You’ll have healthy snacks on hand that will help you avoid the temptation of the cookie jar. (In an ideal world, you wouldn’t even have a cookie jar, but who wants to live in a world like that!)
- It helps you cut down on bread. If you have leftovers from dinner the previous night, you’re less likely to rely on sandwiches for lunch and can fill up on healthier foods instead.
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Helps you save money
Freelance income can be very unpredictable. Some months you’ll be up to your eyes with work and other months tumbleweeds will float by. Money can be a constant worry, especially at the beginning of your freelance career.
Meal planning will make sure that you’re making the best use of your grocery budget as well as making sure that no food goes to waste.
Here are some tips to help you save money through meal planning:
- Think about what ingredients you already have that need to be used up. Take an inventory of what’s in your cupboards and fridge and plan your meals around what you already have.
- If you’re buying unusual vegetables or grains for a specific recipe, look up other recipes that you can make that week to use up the leftovers.
- Leftovers for lunch are a great time and money saver, so you should plan to have leftovers from some of your dinners.
- Bulk buy meat and freeze in portions. You can take advantage of sales on meat because you’ll know that you have a plan for using it soon.
Related Content: How to survive on an irregular income as a new freelancer
Looking for a way to start your work-at-home dream life? Check this out!
Helps you save time
When you’re a freelancer or small business owner, you don’t always have a 9 to 5 schedule. Sometimes a client will send you a rush job at 4 p.m. and want you to have it back to them within a few hours.
If you start meal planning, you’ll no longer waste time thinking about what to eat, and then just opt for the quickest, least healthy option because you’ve wasted so much time. It’s like when you’re trying to find something to watch on Netflix. You spend a couple of hours trying to find something new and interesting to watch, and then you give up and watch some trashy reality TV show, just for the sake of watching something!
Meal planning frees up your time so that you can focus on other more important things rather than worrying about food all day.
Here’s how you can save time through meal planning:
- Write a shopping list and tick everything off as you go around the grocery store. This will make sure you have all the ingredients you need so you don’t have to make any last-minute trips to the grocery store.
- Invest in a slow cooker. Slow cooks are very affordable. You throw it on in the morning and come back to it in the evening, meaning you don’t have to stand over your food while it cooks. Using a slow cooker, you can make enough food for several days. All you’ll have to do is reheat the food. I have to admit that I’m in love with the slow cooker I got for Christmas. I wish I’d bought one years ago.
- Make extra food so that you have enough to have leftovers for lunch. Double win. You save time and money!
Related Content: Too Much Life in Your Work-Life Balance? Here’s How to Fix It
So how do I get started?
You need to set aside a little bit of time each week to think about what you’re going to make. Grab a scrap of paper, a weekly meal planning pad like this one from Amazon, or download my FREE printable weekly meal planner!
Start by looking through your local store’s weekly flyer to see what deals they have this week. You can plan your meals around these ingredients to save some money.
Want to try something new? Check out my Pinterest Food board for ideas! Include family favorites as well as new recipes to keep things interesting.
Choose meals that suit how you like to eat. If you like to have routine, you could have theme days each week, like Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, etc. If you don’t mind eating the same foods repeatedly, plan meals that work well as leftovers like bolognese or chilli.
Don’t forget to plan your snacks as well to make sure you have some healthy options!
You don’t need to plan the whole week out in one go, you can do it a few days at a time. Whatever suits your schedule.
I really hope you’ll try meal planning and see how easy it is to save time, money, and even eat healthier! Do you think it will help you? If you already meal plan, do you have any tips?
FREE Meal Planner
Download this printable weekly meal planner and save yourself time and money!
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