Sometimes there are certain aspects of a good diet that cross over through every diet, regardless of whether you’re a vegetarian, a vegan, or still eating a standard diet that includes meat. One simple constant is that if you want to be effective in meals, you should plan ahead and make far more than you’ll ever need. Just why would you do that? Well, let’s take a quick look here as to why cooking ahead is a good idea.

First, let me ask you how often you find yourself walking into the kitchen, hoping that for some reason a fully cooked meal will appear on the third time you open the fridge or the seventh time you make your round through the cupboards? If you’re like me and pretty much everyone else, long term planning is essentially impossible as you can’t actually see yourself thinking about what you’ll be eating on Thursday because it’s only Sunday and you’re not even sure you’ll need food on Thursday.

It’s for this exact reason, the inability to plan ahead, that we need to plan ahead. Or, well, “need” is the wrong word there. It “helps” to plan ahead. Some people just make a simple check showing that Wednesdays are pasta night, Thursday is soup night, and Saturday is all leftovers, but actually making some of these meals beforehand can reduce stress and overeating later on, as well as over spending. Okay, lots of claim here, so let’s go one by one.

With stress, many times you’ll end up coming home from a particularly long day, just wanting to curl up on the couch with a favorite book or TV show, but know darn well that you’ll have to go through the ordeal of cooking, cleaning, and hopefully eating dinner. This can make it difficult to stay in a good mood either before or even during dinner itself, and can make the rest of the day weigh a bit heavier on your shoulders. However, coming home to a meal that’s already made and just needs to be heated in the oven or microwave is wonderful.

In terms of overeating, we tend to go nuts at home because we never really know how much to make. The reason is that we end up making what we feel makes sense in accordance to how hungry we are while making it, so we overestimate the amount we’ll need, then feel like we need to resolve it all by eating every bit that we made. Making a week’s worth of meals all at once forces you to ration the meals better, cutting the likelihood of making more than you need since you’ll be of sound mind and capable of planning.

And finally, looking at the problem of spending too much, as with the overeating problem, rationing the weekly food better cuts down on wastefulness and saves you money in the process. Plus, a lot of money ends up getting spent on dining out when nothing’s prepared, sending you off to spend more and most likely eat more as well. Having your meals planned out ahead of time reduces the temptation of needing to head out to that nice Italian restaurant down the street every night. Generally, you learn a sense of what you need and how to plan for it a whole lot better, and your wallet will thank you.

So there you have it, simple and effective reasons for why cooking ahead is a smart thing to do. It cuts stress, caloric intake, and costs as well. Of course, you can still leave one spontaneous day open as well. Variety is the spice of life after all! Good luck to you and your cooking adventures!