Why Meal Planning Is So Important


"I was traveling a lot, I was making a lot of money, but I wasn't [happy] and my health was down," admits Melissa Lanz, who eventually left the corporate world to found meal planning service The Fresh 20 and author a cookbook by the same name.

Lanz had taught cooking classes in her early 20s and had been experimented with meal planning. From this and her desire to bring together her passions—family, cooking and business—The Fresh 20 was born. The service and cookbook offer week-night dinner meal plans, in which all five meals require only 20 ingredients.

As the name assures, all 20 weekly ingredients in Lanz's meal plans are fresh, a departure from the typical meal planning services in the market when she launched more than three years ago. She remembers, "there was so much processed food within the meal plans. They were still about getting [dinner] on the table no matter if it was healthy or not. It wasn't what I wanted for my family."

Beyond a desire to cut out processed foods, Lanz was sick of wasting food and spending hours at the grocery store. The Fresh 20 helped solve these common cooking dilemmas. "I thought, there has to be a more modern way of meal planning," says Lanz. "There are lots of programs where you can pick five ingredients and it'll pick recipes for you, but if you do that, it creates a shopping list of 80 ingredients and none of them are related to each other. At the end of the week, you have a lot of waste." To gather so many ingredients takes time in the store, and, even worse, with no plan at all, it is easy to get stuck in the alluring middle aisles of the grocery which are filled with unhealthy, processed foods.

Check out the slideshow above to learn how Lanz handles picky eaters, why having a plan is so important and the biggest mistakes people make when meal planning. Plus, find a couple of recipes from the cookbook!