Do you keep trying to upgrade your diet, but life gets in the way? Meal planning could be the answer.
It’s a strategy that can do much more than help you lose weight. It doesn’t have to be time consuming or complicated either. In fact, shopping and eating more intentionally usually makes life easier for busy professionals and parents.
Find out more about what meal planning can do for you. Take a look at the benefits and how to get started.
Benefits of Meal Planning:
- Eat healthier. You’ll probably make smarter choices when you decide what to eat in advance. Design meals and snacks focused on whole foods and balanced nutrition. You may wind up slimming down too.
- Reduce food waste. Between 30 to 40% of our national food supply winds up in landfills, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition to lowering your grocery bills, you’ll be helping the environment.
- Cut costs. Meal planning can save you money in other ways too. Comparison shop to see which stores have the best prices on different items. Take advantage of weekly sales.
- Save time. While you may spend some extra hours planning at first, you’ll probably make up for it in the end. Imagine no more last-minute trips to pick up something for dinner and having ingredients on hand for any recipe.
- Eliminate stress. Does your stomach sink when your kids ask what’s for dinner? Maybe you’ll breathe a little easier if you can cross one task off your to-do list for the rest of the week.
- Manage chronic conditions. Sticking to a recommended diet may help relieve discomfort and pain. For example, if you have diabetes, eating similar portions at the same time each day will help stabilize your blood sugar.
Succeeding at Meal Planning:
- Check your calendar. Create a schedule that works for you. Maybe you want to experiment with new and challenging recipes on weekends. Maybe you need pizza nights for the days you work overtime.
- Take inventory. Figure out what you already have on hand, so you can find recipes to use up aging beans and spices. Check your freezer too.
- Make a list. Now, you’re ready to visit the supermarket to fill in the gaps. Shopping with a list will help you remember what you need and avoid impulse purchases. To save more time, shop during off hours, like early mornings and late evenings, instead of weekends and after work.
- Stock your pantry. Fill your shelves and freezer with nonperishable items that you’ll frequently use. Some basic staples include pasta, rice, legumes, olive oil, and baking supplies. Learn how to store foods in a way that maximizes their life and buy containers that keep things airtight.
- Equip your kitchen. Cooking is simpler when you have the appropriate tools. Treat yourself to an air fryer or slow cooker, as well as a high-quality set of knives.
- Enjoy leftovers. Prepare meals in batches that will see you through more than one day. Roast a chicken for dinner and make it into sandwiches for lunch. Cook a big pot of chili and freeze half for later.
- Use technology. Explore websites and apps that speed up the process. Browse for meal planning templates online. Subscribe to services that will send you recipes based on your preferences.
- Be flexible. Meal planning is more effective when you customize it for you. Be realistic about your available time and cooking skills. You can start small and work your way up.
Once you start meal planning, you may wonder how you lived without it. Taking a more strategic approach to food shopping and preparation can help you eat healthier, while you save time and money.