(Originally written for Pure Plates)
If your goal is to eat healthier to lose weight and optimize your health, then meal planning is the way to go. Hands down.
In addition to having nutritious meals at your fingertips, there are many other benefits of meal planning. Let’s take a closer look…
Top 7 Benefits of Meal Planning
Saves You Time
While you might spend 10 to 15 minutes once a week meal planning, you’ll still actually have more time in your week for other (hopefully relaxing) things.
For example, meal planning involves creating a shopping list of only the things you need. Thus, you’ll be able to get in and out of the grocery store much faster.
In addition, you should only need to make one weekly trip to the store. And, you’ll be sure to have everything on hand when dinnertime rolls around. Thus, no more last minute pit stops.
Eliminates Food Waste
If you head to the grocery store without a plan, you’re probably buying items without knowing what you already have at home and what you’re going to do with the foods you buy. In addition, you may forget about various events or activities in which you need extra food for guests or no food at all.
Thus, when you get home, you might find you’re missing a key ingredient or two. Or, you might be wondering what to do with the foods you got. And after a long day, take-out starts sounding much better than heading back to the store or finding a new recipe with the ingredients you do have.
As a result, some foods are likely to get tossed by the end of the week. However, with a meal plan, everything you buy has a purpose.
Saves You Money
With a meal plan, you’ll only be spending money on foods you truly need. You can also create your plan around your budget. In addition, planning ahead gives you the opportunity to take advantage of sales and coupons.
Reduces Your Stress
Having a meal plan takes the stress out of healthy eating. It gives you one less thing to think about. And, there’ll be no more scrambling last minute trying to figure out what’s for dinner, especially at the end of a busy day.
Adds Variety & Balance to Your Diet
Meal planning sets the stage for eating a variety of foods and well-balanced meals throughout the week.
For instance, when you see your plan on paper (or your computer or phone), you’re less likely to pencil in the same foods back to back. You’re also able to see whether or not your meals have a good balance of proteins, carbs, healthy fats, and (lots of) vegetables.
Gives Kids an Opportunity to Get Involved
Kids love to have a voice when it comes to dinner. Thus, meal planning is a perfect opportunity to get your little ones involved. For example, let each child pick one meal for the week. Or, let your children choose a veggie side dish.
They’ll be more excited about home cooked meals. And, they’ll learn how to meal plan, which will help foster healthy eating habits.
In addition, your kids will stop asking, “what’s for dinner” when you post your meal plan on the fridge for all to see. And, if they know what to expect, they’ll be less likely to complain at the dinner table.
Now let’s circle back to your original goal of eating healthy. Based on all the benefits of meal planning we discussed above, it would be almost impossible not to eat healthier with a meal plan.
Meal planning leads to more home cooking as well as more variety and well-balanced meals. Thus, it naturally leads to less take-out and fast food. And these things lead to weight loss and better health.
Meal Planning Tips
Meal planning shouldn’t be difficult. In fact, there are many online meal planning services as well as apps available. Some that even do all the work for you.
In addition, you don’t need to plan a home cooked meal every night. Most likely you will eat out a night or two. And one night you may have dinner at a friend or family member’s house. In addition, some nights you can even add Pure Plates meals to your plan. However, it’s still important to include those nights in your plan to reap all the benefits of meal planning discussed above.
And if you’re looking for a complete solution, Pure Plates offers a 30-Day Fresh Start Program, which provides a 30-day meal plan along with all your meals. It doesn’t get any easier than that!
The benefits of meal planning are substantial, especially when it comes to your health (and sanity). Thus, we hope you’ll give it a try.
And, if you’re already a meal planning pro, we’d love to hear from you! What are some of your best meal planning tips and tricks?