THE BENEFITS OF MEAL PLANNING
Meal planning is an easy step to help you reach your goals, whether you are trying to lose weight, or just improve your diet.
There are many plus sides to planning out your meals in advance that can not only save your waistline, but also improve your health.
As the saying goes "Fail to plan, you plan to fail"
Planning what you are having for your meals and snacks in advance increases the chances that the healthier food option is taken. You will know what your daily calorie intake will be. You know what snack you can grab. You know that you can have some guilt free chocolate.
Here are just a few more benefits to being prepared when it comes to food:
LEARNING PORTION CONTROL
By planning your own meals, you can see how much you’re really consuming, and how much you actually ‘need’ to eat to feel satiated and full. This is a great tool, especially when you go out for a meal as restaurants, which tend to serve a way bigger portion than you should actually be eating. You can gauge just by looking at your plate if you really ‘need’ everything on it, and how many calories it’s likely to contain.
Your blood sugar drops when you are hungry and so you are more likely to grab the quickest thing rather than the most nutritious. Rather than cooking something, you’ll grab a takeaway menu, jump in the car and hit the drive-thru, or choose a chocolate bar or bag of crisps over something that needs preparing.
If you are meal planning, you know what is available to you. The snack you grab is going to have been thought out. It might still be sweet, but its more likely to be fruit or something like Naked bar than a Snickers Duo.
If you’re really ahead of yourself, your lunch and evening meal may already have been prepared in advance and all you need to do is heat it up. Much quicker than waiting for the delivery guy eh?
How many times do you find yourself opening the fridge, not seeing anything you fancy and walking away, only to return a few minutes later to have another look?
Planning in advance means that when you open the fridge, there are the ingredients there for several meals or snacks. Depending on the extent of your organisation, the meals and snacks may already be prepared so you can just grab and go.
Having a few options ready means that if you don’t fancy what you had planned, there’s still a healthy, thought out alternative.
Do you find yourself clearing out the fridge the night before the bin men are coming? Bags of half eaten salad leaves, left overs, 3 for £10 microwave meals that seemed like a good deal at the time but didn’t get eaten?
And how many times have you said “what a waste of money?” or “what a waste of food?”
I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like making a saving and meal planning is a fantastic way to help. Not only are you less likely to order an expensive takeaway or head to the pub for dinner on a whim (pre and post lockdown of course), but by planning, it might be that you are able to bulk buy a few items which saves you a bit.
You can batch cook and pop meals in the freezer on spending money at restaurants, meal planning also involves buying items in bulk, which can be a huge money saver.
Personally, I know I spend a lot less when I go to the supermarket with a list in my hand, rather than walking aimlessly up and down the aisles grabbing stuff that (I realise when I get home) doesn’t go with anything else I’ve bought and I still don’t really have the ingredients for a full meal.
AVOIDING WASTING FOOD
Going back to the point above, when you are planning your meals, you make a list of what you need. You take it to the supermarket, you stick to it (more or less), and you know that the contents of your shopping bags are going to help you great some delicious meals, healthy snacks and keep you on track.
If you cook and eat what you planned, then there is little to no wasted food. No more filling the food waste bin up with slimy rocket and watercress, stinky chicken or a bag of mouldy grated cheese. When every food has a purpose, you won’t have to worry about items in your fridge going to waste.
So, whether you’re making meals for yourself or the whole family, taking a bit of time to plan your meals is totally worth the effort. It seems tedious to start with but set yourself a little bit of time aside each week and the benefits will certainly pay off.
Start one meal at a time and try to make the best choices as you can for that meal to keep you on track and heading towards your weight loss goal.