Meal planning is one of the simplest and easiest tools available to you for improving your wellness. It will add a lot of structure to your days and weeks while providing a range of benefits. Planning out your meals doesn’t take very long, either, especially once you are used to it and have a process. Using meal planning to prepare a good food list should also go hand in hand with other food prep and support measures, like buying a Big Berkey Water Filter. You will have a unified and methodical approach to shopping, cooking, and eating if you understand why and how meal planning is so valuable.
The Physical Benefits
Eating healthy is the most important component in maintaining a healthy weight and getting the right nutrition. Many diet plans like Weight Watchers and Atkins use a form of meal planning to guide you towards eating certain foods. Planning out your meals in advance means you can avoid snacking and balance out what you eat. You don’t need to go as far as counting calories or studying every nutritional facts label, but it is a good idea to use meal planning to examine things like how often you eat vegetables and how much sugar is in the foods you eat most often.
Meal planning can add just a little bit of structure to your eating. That is a healthy habit that will benefit you no matter what your relationship with food is. If you are trying to lose weight, then with meal planning you can define what you will eat for the month and determine the right portion size for each meal. If you are an athlete, you can ensure that over the course of a week you are reaching your goals.
With unplanned meals, it is very easy to eat more than you intended or wind up running out of ingredients too quickly. Meal planning lets you know ahead of time that you will have all the food you need when you need it.
The Mental Benefits
Like any other form of planning, meal planning can help you relieve stress when done right. Trying to figure out what to eat takes time and effort. When you are coming home from work, tired or distracted, you don’t want to expend more mental energy on figuring out dinner. That is how you wind up ordering out or buying lots of processed food that you can just microwave and eat.
Just set aside about twenty minutes on a weekend day to settle on breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the upcoming week and make that into your shopping list. Find some recipes, adjust the required ingredients to meet your needs, and plan out the prep time for each meal. You can quickly find a couple of options for each meal and then build your shopping list around that. Afterward, do as much of the prep and chopping and other cooking tasks in advance as you can. The idea is to minimize your required effort in the moment so that you can easily stick to the plan–by the time you get home for dinner most of the work should be done.
The Financial Benefits
Most people don’t know this, but grocery stores are designed to convince you to buy things that aren’t on your initial list. This is called unintended shopping. In many cases, half of the total amount people spend during a shopping trip will be unintended. If you plan a meal plan, you can cut down on unintended shopping because you will know that you can get through the week using only what you have on your list.
If you are trying to plan and decide what to buy while you are already at the store, then you are likely to overpay.Just as with the mental benefit, the best approach is to plan as much as you can in advance so that when the time comes to actually shop, there is no decision-making involved– you just get what’s on the list, and only what’s on the list, and you are done.
The Bottom Line
All three of these sets of benefits are interlinked. Having a good plan means you can eat healthier because you have the time to find healthy recipes, which reduces your mental stress and helps you live a balanced lifestyle. By planning out a week at a time, you save money, which also reduces stress. Meal planning is a healthy habit for your body, mind, and bank account.