Is your family eating all the right things and yet their health is a constant concern for you? Well! Staying healthy takes more than just eating nutritious food and exercising! As most wise people say, all good habits and decisions start at home. And, as way-off it may sound right now to you, preparing healthy meals doesn’t really have to be either difficult or expensive—it just takes planning!
While nutritious food with all the dietary essentials is an important part of staying healthy, newer studies are increasingly emphasizing on the need for a planned diet that takes care of the other important facet of eating healthy – eating right-size portions of a healthy meal! Thus, arises the need for a meal plan to live healthy.
What is this ‘Meal Planning’?
An obvious question that would be sticking in your mind would definitely be around what this ‘meal planning’ thing entail! It’s rather simple – Meal Planning is all about charting an advance plan of what you are going to cook or serve to yourself and your family for a certain period of time, say a day, week, or it could even be a month.
Sounds a bit cumbersome? But, believe it or not, whether you are cooking for just yourself or for your entire family, taking the time to sit down and pen an advance plan for future meals can be a big way to save on time as well as quite a few bucks. Besides, it also improves eating habits and can be a real health enhancer!!
Here are some reasons that would surely catch your attention on why you should start planning your meals! With a meal plan…
…you start eating healthier
The #1 reason to begin planning your meals is that it lets you eat healthier. With your meals already planned for the next few days, you do not have to lose your mind on what needs to be cooked, cutting down on the obvious tendency to eat out or order a quick takeaway consisting pizza, cheeseburgers, or the like– both options severely lacking in nutritional aspects. Result is a healthier and well-balanced home-cooked meal.
…you shop more efficiently
Of course, with all meals planned in advance, you get to do your grocery shopping in a more planned and efficient way! Since you already have a list of the ingredients that you should be needing in the course of the next few days or week, you can keep your kitchen prepped with all of these to avoid the annoying instances of discovering that you’ve run out of a necessary ingredient while in the middle of your cooking.
Besides, shopping from a list rather than making impulse choices at the grocery store could save you both time and money. Also, you avoid wastage as well for you easily eliminate the chances of buying those items that may end up stuck at the back of your fridge for weeks!
…you save money
What could be better than enjoying some wealth (read savings!) along with health!! With a drop in the eating-out instances and more efficient groceries shopping, you obviously get to save quite some money- all thanks to meal planning.
What’s more, you can even include the costs of each of your meals right inside your meal plan, now that you would know which ingredients you would be needing, and can even check out where to buy them at the best price!
…you get to enjoy variety
Another good thing that comes with planning meals is that you get to enjoy quite a variety. With a planned menu, you do not rush into cooking just about the same thing again and again. A meal plan would allow you to plan your menu to include something new for each new day.
This comes in handy especially with families with kids, who are more often than not picky about their food. Including their preferences in the meal plan would mean that they enjoy the variety and most importantly like and finish what you serve them!
By now, you must definitely be sold to the idea of preparing a meal plan for yourself and your family, isn’t it? So let us help with you some tips to ease out the meal planning for you.
Points to Bear in Mind While Meal Planning
Before you start with your meal planning, some things need to be considered to assess the eating situation at hand. Essentially you must probe to answer questions like how many meals you need to plan for in the current meal plan, how much time do you have during this period, what is yours and your family’s current food mood and most importantly, what’s your grocery budget like.
Take a quick inventory of yours and your family members’ plans to understand how many meals you’ll need to get through the week, and how your week ahead looks. If you have a busy week ahead, it would be more prudent to go with something that is quick and easy to prepare and serve. All days are not same and things like a change in the weather impact food cravings. So do bear that in mind as well.
Now, Plan Your Meals! Get, set and go!
Plan your meals and do keep room in your plan for some of these – always!
- Start your day with the most important meal – the breakfast- being a healthy, nutritious one, as these help in a great way to prevent overeating and snacking later in the day!
- Keep to a healthy portion size, starting-off with small portions. Keeping a close tab on the serving sizes definitely helps yourself and your family eat only a healthy amount of food. In fact, a key to healthy eating is knowing when servings are larger than needed and limiting to eat or drink only what is ideally needed at each meal.
For instance, meal portions should ideally be equal to the size of the back of a fist of the eater, while the serving size to be considered for beverages should fit in a small coffee cup. Right portion sizes are, thus, the key to keeping healthier and deriving energy that you would need to get through the day.
- Keep sugary drinks like sugar-sweetened beverages as away from your meal plans as possible for better health.
- Keep provision for your family to eat together as eating together ensures a regular, scheduled meal and helps kids in the family learn about the structure of eating, making them more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer junk foods.
- Lastly, make meal planning a family affair. Involve all members including children as far as possible to make in a success.
When it comes to eating healthy, meal planning is a surefire way to success. In fact, this is the easiest thing one can do to have a healthier existence for oneself and for their family. The key lies in just getting onto the bandwagon, start planning your meals and doing so religiously every few days or weeks.
With several approaches to planning your meals and no set rules to adhere to, it takes a matter of just a couple or so of instances to begin to find what works best for you and your family. From there, the plan is almost set for you and you’d be surprised by how easy making healthy changes can be.
So, get some ideas for healthy choices and make your next grocery shopping trip an easier one with a meal plan in place!