Meal planning can be highly beneficial for people living with underlying medical conditions and healthy individuals alike. In case you've got a medical condition, meal planning will help you manage it better. On the other hand, you may also avoid lifestyle diseases by planning your meals carefully. Meal planning ensures you eat a variety of healthy foods"including more vegetables and fruits"to reduce the chances of suffering from disorders caused by an unhealthy lifestyle. You'll also ensure that you're consuming the right food in the required portions.
Meal planning can improve your discipline in choosing meals. For instance, it'll restrict you from overeating at restaurants where you may be served more food than the amount you should only eat. Considering the health benefits, it's important to ask yourself questions like: have you been planning your meals? Or, are you finding it difficult to be consistent and disciplined in meal planning?
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Steps In Meal Planning
If you want to be successful at preparing healthy food at home, you'll need to plan things out. Use the checklist below to enjoy flavorful and nutritious meals in the comfort of your home.
• Take stock: Confirm what you already have in your pantry. Take note of what's lacking.
• Decide on your meals: Come up with an outline for the week's meals to act as your guide. You may also give each day a theme"e.g., Taco Monday, Meatless Tuesday, Crockpot Wednesday, Leftovers Thursday, etc.
• Incorporate fresh goods: Level up your recipes with a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. Vary the fruits and veggies that you serve each day.
• Include protein: Try beef, fish, and chicken for a variety of proteins. For meatless days, you may have beans or tofu as your source of protein instead.
• Use your leftovers: Slice grilled chicken breast to top a salad. Leftover veggies and meat can be used to make a super tasty rice bowl or soup. They come in handy, especially on busy days.
• Plan earlier: Because planning takes time, you may take a few hours in the evening or on the weekend to cook or get your ingredients ready for next week.
Why You Need Meal Planning
From the above discussion, you can start to see that meal planning is indispensable if you want to achieve a healthy eating lifestyle. Below are some specific reasons that show you the need for meal planning:
1. Saves You Money
This might be the most critical reason to plan your meals. You've probably found yourself constantly having to throw away food from last night. The hard truth is you're throwing away your hard-earned money.
Have you ever settled for a takeaway or eating out just because you didn't have a plan for dinner? There's a high chance you'll avoid making such costly decisions if you start planning your meals now.
Planning what you'll require for the week will keep you from throwing away extra food and going for expensive takeaways and ready meals. In the long run, these small savings will add up to a significant amount.
2. You'll Stick To Healthy Meals
Meal planning will make you adhere to your prepared menu. You can avoid takeaways which may cause you to eat foods with a lot of calories. Instead, you'll enjoy well-thought-out meals that you've already specified for the day.
3. Saves You Time
Meal planning will save you a lot of time in the long run. Spend a few minutes planning your meals for the week and write down a shopping list. You'll later cut down your time shopping at the supermarket or online. You'll only be strolling in the supermarket aisles ticking off things from the list you made once you've already taken them, instead of trying hard to figure out or remember what you need.
Once you've gathered all you need for the fridge, you'll have minimal trips to the shop in case you forgot something. You'll also reduce time thinking about what to cook in the evening. You can take meal planning to the next level by creating a monthly plan too. You can use it over and over again and just save for a few changes you may need to make.
4. Minimizes Stress
Having to think of a good delicious meal each night can be stressful. Also, having to go to the grocery store each day can be a cause of stress. It might even be worse if you're a mother with small kids you can't leave at home.
However, creating a plan to use over the week or throughout the month brings a sense of confidence and being organized. You can have a peaceful day at work without stressing your mind about what you'll need for dinner. You may even approximate the time you'll require in the kitchen and decide what time to start cooking.
5. Less Food Goes To Waste
Meal planning can considerably reduce the amount of food wasted. You only cook what you need and in the right proportions. If you plan your meals with your family, then anything you cook for a particular day is exactly what everyone wants. This means you'll all be able to finish the prepared food, thus reducing wastage.
6. Eliminates Unhealthy Options
Meal planning instills the practice of making disciplined choices. You avoid the temptation to go for a takeaway on your way home since there's food ready at home. Unhealthy last-minute decisions will become a thing of the past.
Takeaway food might be filled with calories and sodium which can stifle your health and weight control goals. Whenever you're emotional and you want to avoid putting in the effort to gather ingredients, you can easily fall into unhealthy options if you don't have a meal plan. On the contrary, there'll be no room for junk food if your mind's already set on the healthy meal you already planned last week or days before.
It may be difficult to get started on meal planning if you're clueless about doing it. However, once you decide to begin and eventually get the hang of it, it becomes the most pleasurable thing to do to enhance the health of your family. You'll be able to maintain a balanced diet in your family and protect them from lifestyle diseases that are on the rise due to unhealthy eating habits. Being consistent will make you a master in planning healthy meals.
You can also use the strategies you develop through practice and by reading meal planning materials to plan for parties during festive seasons like Christmas and Easter.