I used to think that meal planning was pointless, since I'm the only one who's eating. After all, if I have a few staples in the pantry, a selection of fresh vegetables in the refrigerator bin, and a piece of meat or fish in the freezer, I can whip something up, right? And if I don't feel like doing that, I can always order out or pick up something already prepared, a tired girl's treat that is one of my biggest temptations at the end of a busy day. I'm kind of lucky, cooking only for myself. I have no one to answer to, no one whose picky needs have to be met, and no one to criticize me. So, I can eat what I please.
What a convenient trap to fall into. By not planning meals, because it's only me, I am spending money I don't need to, risking eating foods that don't promote my health, and wasting time making decisions I don't need to make.
If I plan meals ahead of time, I can eat tasty, satisfying, healthful foods for about 50% of what it costs to order out, dine out, or pick up food through a drive-in window. There are some who don't agree with me, but that's because they've dismissed two critical aspects of cooking for yourself: the cost benefits of planning ahead, and the false justification of applying your hourly rate on the outside job to cooking for yourself at home. That last part may sound a bit strange, but take a look at this article that asks, is eating out cheaper than cooking? Food for thought.
Eat the Right Foods
I am the only one who knows what's best for me to eat, and I know this by paying attention to the conversation my body has with me. I already know that dairy products and wheat have nasty things to say because I'm lactose and gluten intolerant. I don't want to be asking a waiter or other food provider for a breakdown of what's in that dish. Not only is it a waste of my energy, it's a waste of theirs. And that brings me to wasting time.
Effort put into meal planning at the start of a week saves time during the week. The planning time eliminates time-wasting activities like spur-of-the moment trips to a restaurant or grocery store (let's add the cost of the gas for the car, too). It also eliminates starting out on a cooking adventure mid-week, which I really don't have time for. But most important to me (I wonder if you share this with me?), it eliminates the time it takes to make a decision about what to eat.
Meal planning for one is a discipline. But when you do it, money, health, and time savings follow.