Are you ready to plan your meals like a pro?
When you already have a busy schedule, meal planning and preparation might feel burdensome. That’s why a weekly menu that is prepared in advance can address a number of issues. Plus, if you’re tired of trying to decide upon your dinner dishes, these simple hacks will help you a lot more than you think.
Besides the fact that meal planning can save you a lot of money, it also has numerous advantages for your health and well-being. Furthermore, organizing meals and snacks in advance enhances success rates and the chances that healthier eating choices will be made. See? A lot of benefits. Let’s find out what the main perks of meal planning for a week are!
Meal planning means you eat more healthfully
This is probably one of the most wonderful things about meal planning; that’s why I wanted to mention it first. Why? Because in most cases, when you come late from work, and you’re super hungry, you will be more inclined to eat whatever falls into your hands, especially fast food. When you start meal planning, you will eliminate any source of “bad” food from your diet and also from your fridge.
Moreover, you will have plenty of balanced meals at your fingertips, packed with tons of nutrients, prepped, and ready to eat. That’s what your family needs, right? Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are all checked! Making these parts of your daily nutrition plan will make your body so happy.
Saves your time and money!
Being hungry and discovering you have nothing planned are undoubtedly stressful situations. And because of that, a lot of people are falling into the trap of ordering food. And what does that mean? More money spent. But if you try to make an effort and write down everything you want to eat for 7 days while making a shopping list, you will most likely spend less time in the supermarket.
Instead of dithering and getting distracted by all the offers or standing in the middle of the store trying to recall all the items you already have at home, you can walk around purposefully, crossing everything off your list. In fact, that means you will also have fewer trips to the grocery store during the week. Amazing, right?
Because of that, you can have your healthy meals prepared in a matter of minutes as opposed to contemplating what to cook while standing in front of your refrigerator or pantry. The major bonus is that you can reuse this plan monthly by just making a few changes depending on the season. In my case, this is the most convincing reason of all. What about you?
More variety in your diet
Do you often find yourself preparing the same old dishes? If the answer is yes, now is the right time to get out of this loop.
When you don’t have a lot of strategies, it’s easy to go back to your old favorites for meals, which frequently results in you eating the same few meals every single week. And you’re very likely to get bored. You can try to make your diet much more interesting and varied by using a meal plan.
When it’s time to plan your meals, schedule one or two new recipes you want to try first, then organize your “tried-and-true” dishes around them. If they turn out to be a success and your family enjoys them, you can add the new recipes to your normal recipe bank for meal planning. Even if you have a monthly meal plan, you can still make exceptions and sneak in other tasty foods that you love.
Make two lists
Take a piece of paper if you don’t have an organizer, and draw a line from the top to the bottom of the page. On the right side, write the meals you plan to serve, and on the left, all the ingredients required for each dish. Don’t forget to include some spices, too, in order to give your food an even better flavor! In order to cook more food that lasts for a couple of days, instead of using 2 cups of brown rice per recipe, wind up with 4 cups of brown rice. This way, you will make sure nothing is missing, and everything is in perfect order.
Also, make sure to check your pantry and your fridge to ensure you avoid buying things that you already have! This brings us to the next step of our article.
Figure out what you already have
Look through your freezer, refrigerator, pantry, and cupboards to see what ingredients you’ve run out of and what you don’t need to buy before making a shopping list for all the groceries you’ll need for meal planning. Don’t be afraid to switch ingredients to healthier alternatives.
For example, if you’re used to consuming sugar, trade it for stevia or other healthy sweeteners. For each and every item, there is a better alternative; you just have to pay more attention to the labels whenever you’re buying something new. Or, in case a dish requires turkey meat, and you have some chicken breast in your freezer, use what you already have. There are plenty of mouth-watering recipes with chicken!
Display your meal plan
Whenever I start doing something new that requires attention and commitment, it helps me if I have it displayed somewhere close. For example, if you have the refrigerator in your kitchen, posting the meal plan on it might help you and your family members see it more often. And next time, when they ask what’s for lunch tomorrow, you can point to the list. This might also help you resist the temptation of ordering food from unhealthy places like McDonald’s or Burger King. You will actually start questioning if ordering is still a valid option for you and your family.
Writing down a list and planning your weekly meals is one thing, but being consistent about it is actually the key to success. Whenever something doesn’t work, and you skip your day plan and switch to something else, grab your pen and write it down. Perhaps that omelet that you had in mind for breakfast didn’t happen simply because you were in a hurry, but your family loved the overnight oats with chia seeds. Next time, consider buying a double quantity of oats and switching to this for busy mornings and making the omelet over the weekends.
Avoid wasting food
I don’t think I’ve stressed this topic often enough, but meal planning significantly lowers food waste, and I do mean significantly! You will only be buying what you absolutely need, and you’ll find that you rarely waste anything if you properly plan. Write a righteous shopping list, then quickly run through your kitchen, ticking off everything you already have in your cupboards before heading to the store.
Planning your meals for the upcoming week is definitely worthwhile, whether you’re cooking for your complete family or just yourself. The idea is to just allocate a small amount of time for it each week. Take one meal at a time and try to make the best choice possible for it.
Happy meal planning!
Because we’re on a roll with a lot of amazing and delicious tips for how to jump-start a healthier life, we have more interesting articles we think you will love, including this one 5 Delicious Soup Recipes That Will Get You Back on Your Feet in No Time.