Updated: Jul 9
Meal planning is an excellent tool to help you reach your goal and manage your calorie intake. Through meal planning, you gain control of what you eat, when you eat and how much you eat. Also if you're a food lover just as much as I am then you will love the excitement that comes with knowing that you’re going to have something delicious for your next meal.
Top 3 reasons to start planning your meals are:
In the long-run planning, your meals will save you a lot of time. You won’t need to worry about rushing in the morning with your breakfast or having to go out and buy something for lunch at work. Try to take some time on the weekend to prepare your meals, this way you won’t have to come home from work and worry about cooking.
Create a shopping list and you will spend less time looking around the shop. Make foods like overnight oats, pancakes, quinoa and pasta salads. They’re easy to prep and make excellent leftovers. On the weekend take some time to cook one or two big dinners and it will save you time cooking when you come home from work exhausted. You can divide your meals up into portions and freeze where appropriate.
2. Save Money
You know those times when you go to the shop and you end up getting everything but the one thing you actually need? Well, planning your grocery shopping trips will prevent that from happening.
Make a shopping list next time you go to the grocery store and I assure you, you will come out happy that you got everything you wanted and be pleasantly surprised about the amount you spent. Planning your meals will also ensure that you use up all the ingredients in your house as you are in control of your food. This way you will no longer have to throw away foods you forgot you had, thus saving you money.
3. Improve your nutrition and wellbeing
You are in control of what you eat when you meal prep and therefore can customise everything to your needs and aim for nutritious meals. You can make sure that your portions are the right size and that your meals contain the right amount of protein, grains, veggies and healthy fats.
It enables you to make healthier choices as you have time to prepare your food in advance. Let’s face it when having to come up with what to eat last minute, people tend to lean towards the fast and often unhealthy options as they are more convenient. Meal planning will stop you from making those fast impulse decisions. It might be frustrating counting calories and tracking your intake everyday, so if you have it all prepared you don’t have to worry about it.
Lastly, it also rests well on your mental health as it reduces a lot of stress. I mean having to ask the question ‘What’s for dinner?’ everyday can be quite stressful, especially when you have a family you need to cook for. Planning your meals and preparing them ahead of time could relieve a lot of that plus if you are having a stressful week you can reuse the same recipes and grocery list to save you thinking about it.
At the end of the day everything comes down to preference and even though there are many health benefits, meal planning might not be for everyone. For example, I don’t plan all my meals as I live with my partner and his parents. Because of this, I don’t really have enough space to prepare my weekly meals as I eat differently from them. I also enjoy cooking and eating fresh breakfast in the morning but whenever I need the extra time in the morning I can always make something the night before such as overnight oats or protein pancakes to fuel my morning.
You might also think that meal planning just adds more chores to your chart. However, in this case, I can assure you that when you come home exhausted not wanting to cook you’ll be glad that you prepared everything the day before. You will find it that sacrificing one day a week to plan out your meals and prepare them will leave you with one less thing to stress about. One last piece of advice, if like me you enjoy snacking. Meal planning allows you to plan these so-called ‘cheat meals’ so you don’t go over your macros and still manage to have a nutritious day. Moreover, you can substitute those unhealthy snacks with fruit, nuts or home-cooked desserts that are healthy.