Planned meal prep can help reduce food waste and costs while making healthy eating simpler – however it can be challenging to begin this habitual practice.
Meal planning can help you reach your weight-loss, cholesterol improvement or feeding a growing family goals more successfully. Establishing this habit early on is crucial.
1. Know Your Meal Needs
Planning meals is an excellent way to eat healthfully within budget, while increasing nutrient-dense food consumption, finding your optimal weight, reducing food waste and improving overall wellbeing.
Step one of meal planning involves understanding your needs – that means determining how many breakfasts, lunches and dinners you wish to consume throughout the week.
Create a list of everything you’ll need for the week ahead to help avoid buying duplicate ingredients, as well as overbuying when some ingredients may already exist in your pantry.
Some prefer writing down their grocery list by hand while others use note-taking apps on their phone or computer. Whatever method you use, it’s a good idea to do this before heading out shopping so that all the items are at hand as you shop.
2. Know Your Grocery Store
An efficient meal planning method relies heavily on having an updated list of what you need for meals before leaving home. Creating an everyday list or adding items as they become necessary, it’s key for preventing impulse buys and last minute stop-and-shops when shopping at grocery stores.
One way to ensure you stay on track with your list is to organize it by grocery store section. Although this may seem cumbersome, doing this will save time and prevent forgetting an essential item!
Utilize a price comparison app to ensure that you’re getting the best prices when purchasing groceries, this way enabling you to easily compare items across stores nearby and even search digital flyers of multiple stores.
3. Know Your Meals
Meal planning can help you save both time and money, reduce wasteful food purchases, and make eating healthier easier than ever.
Meal planning can help you avoid eating foods high in fat, sodium, or sugar. Select recipes tailored to fit your schedule, family needs, and dietary preferences.
Start planning meals for each day of the week, including snacks. Include fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy/fortified soy products among your daily food group selections.
Add variety to your menu to avoid becoming bored with what you eat, according to registered dietitian Brigitte Zeitlin. Try swapping out beef stew for vegetable-rich soup or using your slow cooker to craft meatless meals.
4. Know Your Snacks
When you’re feeling peckish, a snack can help soothe your stomach while providing additional energy and essential vitamins and minerals to boost your health. But not all snacks are created equal if you’re trying to lose weight or be healthier, and knowing which are good for your body is crucial for success.
Dr. Lee suggests combining protein and carbs for snacks that will help curb appetite while keeping you full for an extended period. Some examples are apples with peanut butter or string cheese, carrots with hummus or plain yogurt with fruit as examples of pairing protein with carbs.
5. Know Your Meals
Meal planning can help you lose weight, improve your health or simply eat more nutritiously – dietitians recommend it as it will save time and money while making it easier to eat nutritious food!
Start planning successfully by conducting an inventory of what’s already in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry – this will enable you to avoid purchasing unnecessary items while simultaneously decreasing food waste.
Find recipes that meet your lifestyle and preferences; this may take some trial-and-error, but planning ahead will pay dividends in terms of convenience and enjoyment.