5 Benefits of Having a Meal Plan
#1: Improves your Health
You’ve probably heard that meals cooked at home compared to those from a restaurant are typically lower in calories. But did you know that they also tend to have more fibre and vegetables, fewer carbohydrates, and less sodium, sugar, additives, and saturated or rancid fats?
In fact, overall diet quality increases as the number of weekly meals prepared at home goes up. This is why individuals who regularly prepare meals at home are more likely to have less body fat, a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and even a longer lifespan!
Cooking meals at home increases your chance of reaching health goals, no matter if those are to lose weight, improve heart health, or keep blood sugar in check. Not convinced you have time or energy…keep reading.
#2: It saves you money.
It’s a no-brainer that cooking at home saves money, but do you realize how much? A 2018 Forbes article compared the average cost per serving of preparing over 80 popular dinner recipes at home to the cost per serving of that same dish purchased from a restaurant or a delivered meal kit. The study found that it costs five times more to order that dish from a restaurant than it does to cook at home. Meal kits were a little less. The savings are substantial when you add this up over a month or even a year.. Meal planning makes it easier to cook more consistently at home. So the next time you’re budgeting for a trip or expense, consider meal planning to help save you money month over month.
#3: It enables variety and gives you control.
Meal planning is associated with increased food variety, a key component of a healthy diet that increases the likelihood of meeting nutrient needs and making healthy eating a lot less dull. Perhaps even more importantly, cooking at home also gives you control and choice over ingredients. It’s easier to avoid problematic food allergens and to incorporate ingredients that support diets for your specific health, such as low carb, vegetarian, and dairy-free or gluten-free diets. You also have the ability to work in seasonal, local produce, or ingredients farmed with certain practices. In short, the applications for menu variety are limitless when you’re the one doing the mean planning.
#4: Streamlines shopping and decreases food waste.
Do you find yourself at the grocery store a few times a week? Having a plan will reduce the time you spend at the grocery store, looking for your recycle bags for the grocery store or driving to the grocery store! You may also find that you are more likely to use what you have on hand, like canned goods, dry grains, and other forgotten pantry items. You can get more creative using up perishables before they go bad, as well as finding creative ways to use open condiments, like pesto. Planning and cooking meals at home means you can get strategic with leftovers so you can reduce time the kitchen. Bonus!
#5: Meal planning prevents decision fatigue.
Do you shutter at the question, “what’s for dinner?” I know that may sound silly—but decision fatigue is a real thing.
I remember hearing a podcast about an uber successful business man that said his wife would lay this clothes out each night so that he could use his mental energy for only his work. ewe…I would never do that but the point is…making decisions takes energy!
When you have to decide what to eat, where to go, and how you’re going to spend your attention, you have less energy to focus on the things that truly bring you joy. In “Game Changers: What Leaders, Innovators, and Mavericks Do to Win at Life,” Bulletproof founder Dave Asprey says that every time you avoid making a choice, you save a little bit of willpower that you can then put toward something that will have a greater impact.
Healthy eating goes by the wayside when we wait until 4:00 pm, when you are tired and hungry, to make a decision about what’s for dinner. Odds are, Uber will sound like the best option and then you can look back at #1 to see why that’s not the best option.
If you want to save yourself a lot of stress (we have enough this year), time and money, you’ll want to MEAL PLAN! We are the experts…so let us help!
Linda Ljucovic, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Oakville
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