“The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” as the saying goes.
This old adage is familiar to all of us, and we’ve all been there and done that. Our ideas are fantastic, but our failure to properly organize ourselves leads us down a route we’d rather avoid.
This is true in many aspects of life, but it is especially true when it comes to our nutrition.
We are continually bombarded with messages about eating healthy and eating “well.” We are compelled to consider how we measure up to established norms of healthy living in publications, billboards, and when we visit our doctor’s office, whether in terms of our weight, BMI, or cholesterol levels.
When we go out to eat, we are now presented with the calorie and fat content of our meals, which might make us feel horrible about our decisions.
Finally, we all understand the need to properly fueling our bodies in order to be healthy and strong. Thousands of studies have demonstrated a direct correlation between eating healthy and lowering our risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes over many decades.
We all require different things from our diets – and our food — depending on whether we are overweight, underweight, or at an “ideal” weight.
Being better organized is one thing that we can all benefit from. When it comes to our diets, this means taking the time to design a weekly meal plan that is varied and healthful.
Meal planning can be adaptable, and it can accommodate any dietary restrictions you may have.
Organizing your meal plan will help you feel in control of your diet and schedule, whether you’re attempting to lose weight, grow muscle, or deal with a dietary intolerance.
We’ve compiled a comprehensive overview of the advantages of meal planning to help you get started living your best life right away.
Hummus, radish slices, and yellow bell pepper are spread on two crisp flatbreads.
“Those who believe they don’t have time for healthy food will find time for disease sooner or later.” – Unknown
1. It Can Assist You In Weight Loss.
Whatever the reason – an annual physical, a summer beach vacation, or a health concern – Time Magazine estimated that around half of all Americans are actively trying to reduce weight at any given time. According to a poll conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) between 2013 and 2016, 56.4 percent of women and 41.7 percent of men stated they had been actively trying to lose weight in the previous 12 months.
With so many individuals wanting to reduce weight, it’s understandable that we turn to online publications and periodicals for answers.
While fad diets can help you lose weight rapidly, they are not long-term solutions. Dropping 5 pounds for a summer vacation or a large event may give you the immediate results you want, but you won’t be able to keep the weight off in the long run. Eating a well-balanced, healthful diet and being active are the greatest ways to do this. The good news is that meal planning might genuinely assist you in losing weight and maintaining it.
Taking the effort to plan your weekly meals and then making a detailed shopping list before going to the supermarket is a fail-safe approach to avoid buying random (typically unhealthy or processed) goods.
It’s more cost-effective to buy only the items you’ll need for the meals you want to prepare, and it’s simpler to avoid temptation if you don’t have any sweets or snacks on hand. Furthermore, eliminating processed, pre-prepared meals helps you become more mindful of what you’re putting into your body.
Making your own food from scratch avoids chemicals and hidden facts that can be found in packaged meals. Cutting down on the amount of fat and salt you consume, as well as avoiding artificial preservatives, are simple strategies to improve your health.
Meal planning for the week can assist you in achieving your objectives more quickly. People who lose weight gradually and steadily (at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week) are more likely to keep it off, according to the CDC, and they should do it by eating healthy and exercising consistently.
Eating effectively entails avoiding deprivation of essential food categories and allowing some flexibility in one’s diet. Regular treats, such as a takeaway, dessert, or a favorite snack, are more likely to help people lose weight and keep it off for good.
You may take charge of your diet and include the kinds of delights that keep us all going while reducing weight pound by pound, inch by inch, by arranging your meals.
Fresh rosemary sprigs, garlic cloves, and vine tomatoes on baking paper
“The first step in making the invisible visible is to set goals.” Tony Robbins is a motivational speaker and author.
2. It Will Help You Save Time.
You’re more likely to eat fast food or order takeout if you’re often late in the morning or find yourself leaving work in the evening with a grumbling stomach and no energy to cook. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a tasty pizza delivered to their door after a hard day?
Unfortunately, the combination of tiredness and hunger is to blame for many of the poor eating choices we make on a regular basis.
Taking the time to make a detailed meal plan eliminates the guesswork of deciding what to cook and where to get the necessary supplies. Though dedicating one afternoon or evening every week to meal planning and shopping for seven days’ worth of meals may not be the most enjoyable activity, it will help you stay on track and in control. Furthermore, combining meal planning and grocery shopping with actual meal preparation can give you an empowering start to the week, knowing that you have delicious, wholesome food on hand.
Begin by considering the meals you want to prepare, as well as how additional portions might be frozen or used in alternative ways at lunchtime.
After that, establish a shopping list, making sure to check your pantry and cupboards for any fundamental products you may be missing. You’ll never run out of something you need if you take inventory on a regular basis, and you’ll save time by not having to go to the shop for only one or two products (which will inevitably turn into three, four, or ten…).
When you come home with your groceries, do some basic fruit and vegetable preparation. For smoothies, store washed berries, diced fruit, and frozen bananas in Tupperware containers. Dice onions and garlic, as well as any other veggies you want to add to your meals, such as carrots, cucumber, broccoli, peppers, sprouts, or tomatoes. To keep them fresh, store them in sealed boxes or bags. Spending time on this means you’ll have everything you need to put a meal together in minutes, even if you can’t create the entire meal ahead of time.
Last but not least, if you’re looking for a way to save time, consider investing in a slow cooker. Slow cookers are available in a wide range of pricing ranges, and you can have one delivered to your house in as little as 24 hours.
There are thousands of simple slow cooker recipes available, which work by cooking food at a low temperature for up to 12 hours. In a slow cooker, combine chicken, beef, or lamb with root vegetables, stock, and dried herbs. When you return home from work, your house will smell warm and inviting, and supper will be ready in no time.
On a grey background, a wooden bowl of spinach leaves.
“As long as you cook it yourself, you may eat as much junk food as you want.” – Pollon, Michael
3. You Have The Opportunity To Explore New Things.
We all enjoy trying new things, and when it comes to food, we’re at our most daring.
Our sense of taste has the ability to transport us back to good memories and times, such as holidays, vacations, and childhood.
Though we enjoy comfort cuisine, we also enjoy experimenting with new tastes, recipes, and flavors.
Our willingness to explore new things has resulted in the expansion of specialty stores and the accessibility of imported goods. The ingredients for Thai and Chinese dishes are just as easy to find in your local grocery shop as the fixings for mac and cheese. With the increasing quantity of recipes available online, we can now try new foods more regularly than ever before. Despite this, many of us have a habit of cooking the same 5 or 6 meals and rotating them on a weekly basis.
Making a meal plan is an excellent method to make sure you explore new foods and flavors. Sitting down once a week to make your weekly plan offers you time to look for new recipes and ideas, and drafting a complete shopping list ensures you don’t overlook anything.
There are literally thousands of recipes on the internet to suit all preferences, from a variety of cuisines. You’ll find recipes to liven up your regular eating routine and push you to attempt new, and more challenging, things, whether you’re an expert cook or just want to whip up a nice supper in 20 minutes or less.
Stuck in a rut and wishing someone else would share the load of cooking with you? Encourage everyone to try new recipes or come up with fresh meal ideas, including the kids, and then get them involved in the kitchen. Allow children to assist with washing, preparing, and storing the fruits and vegetables for the week, and encourage them to inquire about the origins of food and how it should be prepared.
According to research from the University of Alberta, kids who help cook at home are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables than kids who don’t. You’ll also be giving kids the skills they’ll need to be healthy and self-sufficient in college and beyond.
Goji berries, coconut, strawberries, and banana in a smoothie bowl
“Change is difficult at first, messy in the midst, and rewarding at the end.” – Unknown
4. You’ll Be Able To Save Money.
You’re not alone if you’ve come here because meal planning sounds like a nice way to avoid wasting food each week. According to studies, up to 40% of the food we buy in North America is thrown away, amounting to more than $160 billion each year.
However, the United States and Canada are not alone in this, as food waste is a worldwide problem.
According to the New York Times, we throw away 1.3 billion tonnes of food each year, or roughly 1/3 of all that is grown. Who is the main offender? Dairy products spoil faster and are discarded more frequently than any other food type.
As shops do their part to reduce food waste by selling otherwise discarded, deformed fruit and vegetables and modifying best-before dates for different food kinds, it’s critical that we, as people, do our part. It is good for the environment, but it is also good for us since we can save money and spend it on more important things. This is where meal preparation comes into play.
When done effectively, meal planning encourages you to buy goods in a waste-conscious manner. Purchasing frozen fruit and vegetables is not only less expensive, but it also allows you to store them for longer and has a lesser environmental impact than purchasing out-of-season fruit transported from elsewhere.
If you spend time washing and preparing fruit and vegetables, you are less likely to toss them away than if you leave them to rot in bags and punnets in the refrigerator.
Another expert tip: put leftover vegetables in a saucepan with some stock for soup, and freeze any leftover, imperfect fruit for smoothies. Soup can also be frozen in individual servings for ill days, cold days, or rushed meals.
Planning your weekly meals will also make you feel more responsible for what you put into your body and how much you spend. Those quick and easy lunches from Chipotle and Panera Bread can quickly mount up over the course of a week, whereas making your own versions can be a satisfying way to feed the entire family for several days.
Meats such as chicken, beef, and other cuts of meat are among the most expensive items on your weekly grocery list. Challenge yourself to attempt new crock-pot recipes utilizing less expensive cuts of meat that are typically overlooked and wasted. Finally, think outside the box. Recognize the products you frequently buy and discard, and seek out alternatives. Last but not least, get creative with leftovers by repurposing them as main courses or nutritious lunchbox options.
Meal planning may be intimidating at first, but after a few weeks, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner. Take out your notepad, look up some new recipes, and take the first step toward a better, happier, and more organized diet!
5. It Will Help In Saving
Avoiding takeout and fast food stops during the week can not only keep your waistline tight, but it will also save you money.
Bloomberg reported in December 2018 that, while fast food has long been regarded as a low-cost choice, pricing increases at Taco Bell and McDonald’s have brought them into line with current (healthier) farm-to-table establishments.
While McDonald’s offers a $6 meal that includes a burger, fries, drink, and pie, other menu items can cost as much as $6 or even $9 without any additional side orders. Taco Bell loaded burritos cost roughly $5, which is more expensive than menu items at independent, local Mexican restaurants in several parts of the United States.
While so-called “fast-casual” restaurants like Chipotle and Panera Bread may provide fresher, healthier selections that are more in line with the healthy eating philosophy, they aren’t necessarily better for your cash. Fast food is consumed by over one-third of all adults in the United States every day, so it’s no surprise that this sector of the economy is thriving.
Home-cooked versions of your take-out favorites, on the other hand, can be just as – if not more – delightful, and although fast food prices continue to grow, market data shows that cooking at home is actually becoming less expensive.
If you enjoy a hot soup with a sandwich or a fresh burrito bowl for lunch, the good news is that you can make these dishes at home.
Cooking a batch of soup or sautéing vegetables and chicken with spices is not only healthier (you can identify and source the ingredients yourself, with no additives, and use ingredients like olive oil and butter more sparingly), but it also allows you to make multiple servings from a single purchase.
With no extra payment for guac, that $9 you spent on a burrito bowl could easily provide 3 or 4 of your own bowls.
Meal planning also helps you save money in other ways. Have you ever observed that when you’re hungry, you spend more money at the grocery store?
That’s because retailers lure you to buy more than you need with attractive snack items at the checkout and at the end of each aisle. Making a meal plan and a precise grocery list allows you to focus on only buying what you need, saving you money that you can save or spend elsewhere.
Following our suggestions for preparing and storing your fruit and vegetables for use can also help you get the most out of your shopping trip. Use older vegetables and fruit in soups or smoothies to reduce waste. Don’t rule out frozen fruit and veggies, either — they’re selected and frozen at their peak, have all of the vitamins and antioxidants of their fresh counterparts, and are usually considerably cheaper.
a huge quantity of juicy, ripe blueberries
“If you don’t have a plan and leave your meal selections to chance, you’re likely to make poor choices.” Kirsten Bentsen (Kirsten Bentsen)