Meal Planning: Your questions, “How do I do it? Why should I do it?” ANSWERED.
Planning meals ahead of time is an activity with multiple benefits. Whether you are cooking for one, two, or the entire family, taking the time to plan out future meals will not only save you time, but will also help to keep you practicing healthy habits – getting you closer to those health and fitness goals!
Why Meal Plan?
- Make fewer trips to the grocery store when you know what you need ahead of time.
- Avoid wasting time frantically searching your cupboards for something to make tonight.
- Cut back on prep and cook time by batch cooking (cooking a lot of food at once and storing it for later use).
- Having a planned grocery list results in less trips to the store, and consequently, less impulse purchasing.
- Including leftovers as part of your plan (or cooking smaller portions) cuts back on waste.
- Buying in bulk cuts costs.
- Planning meals based on your grocery’s weekly sale items saves money.
- Cut back on fast-food trips, take-out, and convenience store buys.
- Get more nutrients and fiber by incorporating fruits and vegetables into every meal.
- Buy and cook appropriate portion sizes to avoid overeating.
- Creating a consistent meal schedule helps with blood sugar control.
Meal Planning Options
It’s important to choose a plan that fits conveniently into your lifestyle and schedule!
- One Day a Week: Shop, plan, prep one day out of your week. For example, every Sunday.
- 15 minutes Each Night: Choose and prep every evening for tomorrow’s meals.
- At Every Meal: Decide what you will do for your next meal.
Tips for Successful Meal Planning
- Always keep staples on hand of the items you use most often such as oil, vinegar, flour, salt, oats, rice, beans, nuts herbs and spices.
- Create a grocery list with all the items you need for your upcoming meals.
- Pre-cook proteins and starches, then store them in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Wash and cut vegetables and/or fruits for upcoming meals and store in the refrigerator.
- Pre-portion leftovers in a container for tomorrow’s lunch.
Here’s an example of what a meal planning schedule looks like:
- Look at the local grocery store ads for sales.
- Consider next week’s schedule.
- Browse healthy recipes.
- Create the menu and corresponding grocery list
- Do all your grocery shopping.
- Spend 1-3 hours prepping and cooking for the week’s upcoming meals.