Making a significant change in your life is never easy. When you try your best to shift toward a healthy lifestyle, it can quickly become overwhelming thinking about what to buy, make, and plan healthy meals daily.
And, let's face it, not everyone has the time or energy right now to dedicate to cooking every single night. Or maybe you're new to cooking, and the thought of anything more complicated than toast makes you anxious.
We might be able to help inspire you to make the jump to a healthier lifestyle, help you feel less overwhelmed about meal planning, and suggest some mouth-watering, flavorful meals to try to make your transition easier!
Why Bother with Meal Planning?
The importance of and reasons why many people choose to meal plan can often be personal that vary from person to person. As someone who may have a booked schedule and an endless list of things to do, you may wonder why you'd want to include another task—meal planning—into your long list of things to do. However, there are several benefits that may make it worthwhile to you.
Lower Grocery Costs
Planning your meals is a fantastic way to save cash on your food budget. It's estimated that the savings could range from $10 to $15 per meal per person in a household. That could equal up to $500 to $800 a year per meal per person or more.
When you plan your meals, you generally take the time to organize and control your grocery expenses, as you can calculate exactly what you need to make each dish instead of heading into the store blindly. Additionally, meal planning may take a bit for the planning part, but you're free to create a meal plan that is convenient for you—little to no cooking, simple ingredients, or flavor-themed, for example. You can also plan around your budget, making it less likely to overspend.
Instead of spending an hour or several hours daily planning and cooking a meal, meal planning and creation can be done all in one day. This will save you the time of having to struggle daily to cook. No more wasted time searching for recipes, food prep, or running to the store to find an ingredient you may have forgotten or missed.
Lower Food Waste
Food waste has a significant impact on our environment, and many hate the idea of having to throw away food. When you meal plan, you become more efficient at understanding the quantities of food you and your family or household consumption, and it helps you purchase the right amount to lessen the chance of food waste.
Say goodbye to the times standing in your kitchen, hungry, but having no idea what to prepare or realizing you don't have the ingredients you need to put dinner on the table. The stress and frustration of needing to come up with something throughout the week can be left behind when you have everything organized and ready to go with meal planning.
Meal planning also allows you to:
• Experiment with new recipes
• Assists in learning about meal preparation and learning to cook progressively
• Address realistic goals into specific actions, such as eating healthier for following aspirational diets, such as paleo, Mediterranean, or keto, just for example.
• Reduce decision fatigue.
Where to Begin with Meal Planning
Repetition is key. You don't need to eat the same food for every meal but cutting it down from cooking a different dish every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—to perhaps two or three other recipes will make a beginning and stick to a meal plan more manageable.
Tools for Meal Planning
No need to overhaul your entire kitchen or purchase expensive new appliances when you begin your meal prepping. There are a few straightforward tools that can help you stay organized:
• Food storage containers. To make storage of prepped meals easier, consider getting food storage containers that are freezer and microwave-friendly, in various sizes. You can find plenty of options nowadays with portioned containers ready for meal prep or Pyrex glass.
• If you commute to work, don't forget a lunchbox for taking your meals with you.
• There are meal-planning apps for phones, personal computers, and websites. So many fantastic websites and apps are available that can provide you with meals and create a grocery list of everything you need.
• If you are a fan of or work better planning with pen and paper, create a meal-planning journal with a notebook of preference.
• Consider getting quickly removable labels or magic erase markers that can label and date your meals so you can keep track of them.
• Multi-task. Cook multiple things at once to make clean up and prep faster. For example, you can bake chicken while also roasting veggies at the same time.
Meal Prep Recipe Tips
Meals can be specific recipes that suit your tastes or just a combination of simple proteins, fruits, and vegetables.
• Pick recipes with well-rounded ingredients like vegetables, grains, brown rice instead of white, baking instead of frying, and lots of dark greens.
• Start simple. Choose meals that are easy for you to prepare that don't require a long list of ingredients or expensive and rare ingredients.
• Mix up the colors and textures to keep your palate interested.
• Try meals that reuse ingredients. For example, cook a batch of baked chicken. The chicken can be served with broccoli and roasted veggies turned into chicken salad, chicken tacos, or burritos.
• Look for recipes that require very little cooking or can be cooked in a slow or pressure cooker for straightforward meals and time savers.
Ready to begin meal planning for a healthy lifestyle? We're prepared to help make your time in the kitchen as enjoyable and easy as ever by providing the freshest, most delicious cuts of meat and seafood delivered right to your door. Get a wide array of delicious, healthy proteins for your next meal and discover some fantastic recipes in our resource articles too!
Remember, meal prep isn't all or nothing. There's no right or wrong way. It's all about what works for you!