What is meal planning and how to start it?
In today’s world where every single thing you do needs to be according to the recent trends, eating healthy has become one trend too. On social media, working out and eating healthy seems an easy task to do but in reality, who are really trying to do so are actually struggling due to the social media competition. Before you become so hard on yourself, study what meal planning actually is.
In basic words, meal planning is to decide what you will eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and throughout your day, week or month. Meal planning ensures you have a balanced and healthy diet. Your body gets all its required nutritional needs.
You can start it in your own kitchen by checking your fridge, freezer or your storage and see all the ingredients you have. Then plan your weekly meals according to what you already have, leading to having more and wasting less.
Benefits of doing mean planning:
- Healthy lifestyle
- Budgeting – save more, waste less
- Fancy meals at home
- Cut down extra trips to grocery stores
- Easy to resist impulsive purchases
What are the impacts of meal planning?
It saves your money
Once you start a meal plan, you will cut down your grocery shopping list to minimum items. Then you will only be buying items you need and no random purchases. You will not be buying any item you wish to eat in future but that ends up getting expired in your fridge as that is your impulsive purchase. Buying items for only the recipes you have planned will save so much money and lead to so much less wastage.
Also to control your random munchies, you can keep healthy snacks in your car to avoid drive-thru junk food items. This way you will again save so much and put all your saved money in more productive means.
It saves your time
Meal planning saves your time as whatever you have planned to cook, all the ingredients needed are already present in your kitchen and no last minute trips are required to grocery stores. Just imagine, you are tired and got home from work and there are one or two ingredients missing for the recipe you want to cook. This way meal planning saves up a lot of time.
It saves your sanity
Meal planning saves your sanity as you have already planned your diet and meals ahead of time. Everything you need is already in your pantry and you do not have to run back and forth to the grocery stores for necessary ingredients. You can easily shop, listen to your favourite music and drive back from grocery shopping.
Easy steps to create a meal plan:
Meal planning is as easy as you would like it to be. It takes a little practice and once you get a hand on it, your life will change completely. You can list down your favourite meals or take suggestions from the people you will be cooking for. You can look into cook books or online for different recipes. Once you have a list, plan your meals and all the ingredients accordingly. Make sure you have healthy dishes and desserts listed down.
Here are a few steps you can follow to create a simple meal plan:
- Have calendar checks
Make sure when will you be cooking and when will you be eating leftovers due to a busy schedule.
- Make a budget
Break your grocery budget into a weekly budget. This way if you spend extra a week, then the other week you will know you have to tighten up a little.
- Check your kitchen storage, fridge and freezer
This way you will know what you already have, leading to saving money. Also, if something is expiring, you will know it beforehand and make something healthy out of it before it goes to waste.
- Keep a check for sales
If you are shopping on sale, you will be buying items that are less pricey and you can buy extra frozen items which can be stored for later use as well.
- Take suggestions from people you will cooking for
The input can help in making creative dishes using minimum ingredients.
- Brainstorm according to season
Thinking seasonal can lead to healthy eating as you can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and produce innovative salads or you can eat soups in the winter season, using different vegetables.
- Do not be mainstream, keep mixing things up
Keep your meal plan interesting by using alternate methods of switching meals here and there and making new recipes, using old methods.
- Make your grocery list based only on the ingredients you have meal planned for
Keep your list limited to the ingredients you need for the whole week, so you are focused only on those items and do not buy anything extra that will disturb your weekly meal planning.