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You’re a single-solo (single and solely responsible for yourself and yourself solely). You’re busy and use a combination of take-out food, quick casual dining and frozen dinners to eat. This is the most efficient use of your time until evolution negates the nagging need to constantly feed. Right? Wrong.

Does Dining Out Really Save Time?

It occurred to us that we can’t remember the last time we went for a quick lunch or dinner, whether take-out or quick-casual, where it took less than six minutes just to get our food. Sometimes, it takes longer. These waits made us wonder how much time is actually saved not cooking under the auspices of “saving time.”

If the average wait-time for lunch and dinner is 10 minutes, that’s anywhere from 50 to 100 minutes a week “grabbing a quick bite” five to 10 times. And this doesn’t include the road rage-induced travel time spent trying to save time.

What Can We Learn From Meal Plan Moms?

The World Wide Web is chock-full of moms or dads diligently and methodically reducing the stresses of parenthood, which include feeding their children three square meals a day. These sites show pictures of evenly spaced slices of bread, equal parts sandwich ingredients and so much Tupperware Earl Tupper would smile.

As challenging as it sounds, single-solos should consider adopting meal plan mom strategies because net, they save more time, money and calories than convenient dining. Here are some strategies to try out. 

  1. Use the news. Grab your favorite grocer’s sales flyer. It lists all the store’s sales for the week and usually includes enough variety for breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. This saves time, money, calories and thinking.
  2. Think big. If you’re making your favorite turkey burgers, make enough to eat for three meals this week and freeze enough for three meals next week. Grill this week’s burgers together and the rest of the week’s dinners are made with the push of a button. Just before Sunday’s big game, start your favorite chili in a slow cooker. Let it cook during the game. Not only will you have post-game food to celebrate with or sob into, you’ll have food for the rest of this week and next. If you’re grilling salmon tonight, grill enough to put on salads the rest of the week.
  3. Cut cutting time. Buy fruit that requires minimal preparation, such as oranges, apples, pears and grapes. Fruit that requires more preparation (such as melons and pineapple) eats time and that bites. Also, buy pre-cleaned and pre-cut vegetables. These make, cheap, healthy and enjoyable snacks with pre-made hummus or dressing.
  4. Think frozen. Not that darn movie, the vegetables! A bag of frozen vegetables can go from the freezer to your plate in five minutes with leftovers for three to five more meals.
  5. Repurpose and reuse. Buy enough reusable containers to get you through the week — cheaper ”throw-away” containers last more than once.
  6. Once and done. Package your weeks’ lunches and dinners simultaneously and store in your fridge to grab and go. Thinking breakfast — how about a banana, granola bar and homemade cup of coffee — $3 and less than five minutes. Boom, done!

This may sound as hard as it is to get off the couch to change the channel. For more help, you can visit many of the meal plan mom websites or learn how to make 42 meals for $75. Once you have a system, you can easily create meal plans that save time, money and calories.

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