It’s been a long day, and now it’s time to come home and think about throwing something together for dinner. But you don’t have all of the ingredients for the recipe you want to make, so you end up eating out. When life gets busy, cooking healthy meals is often relegated to the bottom of our to-do list – we either see the task as too time-consuming or expensive to do daily. Thankfully, there is a solution – meal planning. When you plan your meals beforehand, you will reap several important benefits of meal planning, some of which are explained below:
While you know you should be eating healthy, it can be hard to do when you are forced to consistently make last-minute meal choices. Healthier eating is one of the many benefits of meal planning. With a meal plan, you can think about using nutritious ingredients and sticking to a balanced diet. There are many online tools available, like SuperTracker, to help you develop a healthy meal plan. Be sure to take into consideration not only those meals that you will be eating at home, but also those you’ll eat on-the-go – make sure to bring a sack lunch or some nutritious snacks when you’re out of the house.
Not only will you avoid the expense of eating out frequently when you have a meal plan, but you can save money by shopping according to promotions or sales. Look through local store ads as you make your weekly plan. Taking a list of the week’s grocery needs to the store can also make it much easier to avoid impulse buys. When buying for the week, you can buy certain items in bulk, which will cut down your grocery bill. A number of foods can be stored in the freezer if you don’t get to them right away, and can be used in future meals! Another great way to save money is to plan on using ingredients that you already have in the house.
When you plan ahead, you can save time by doing all of your shopping in one go, rather than running to the store several times a week. It also allows you to do your shopping when it’s convenient, rather than when you are about to start dinner and realize you’re missing an ingredient. Once you have made your meal plan, simply sit down and make a list of all of the items you will need during the week. Not only will once-a-week grocery store trips save you time, it’ll help you save on gas money and stress as well! For highly busy people, saving time is one of the most important benefits of meal planning.
Waste Less Food
Instead of letting leftovers go to waste, plan to eat them. This is a great time to think about your weekly schedule. If you know you will especially busy on Tuesday, pencil that in as the leftover night. Turning leftover ingredients into a new meal is also a great way to reduce wasted food. Include leftover chicken in a casserole later in the week or turn leftover pork roast into pulled pork sandwiches. As mentioned earlier, the freezer is a great place to store leftovers – you can pack an entire meal in the freezer, and save it for a quick, healthy and delicious meal you can reheat in the future.
Discover Great Meals
Finally, creating a meal plan enables you to incorporate a greater variety of foods in your diet. Include some old favorites in your plan, but also try out a new recipe or two. Be sure to keep track of which recipes you enjoyed, so you can make them again. Many people think meal planning means you have to eat the same meals day after day, but it’s encouraged to mix it up. Trying new foods gives your body a variety of nutrients and taste buds a mix of flavors, which will keep you from getting bored with your diet.
While it might take some initial effort until you get in the swing of meal planning, there are numerous benefits of meal planning. If you find the idea intimidating, start by planning only one or two meals a week. Once you get the hang of the process, you’ll be sure to find the results so gratifying that it will be easier to expand your meal planning to cover the entire week!