The benefits of meal planning
A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.
There are so many quotes around planning and the motivation and success that can come from it, and that is because it is undeniable that planning ahead does encourage higher levels of success than just muddling through. This is true of all areas of life, and in many industries. Businesses aren’t successful because they played each day by ear – they had plans. Your family holidays are definitely better for planning when you are going, how you will get there, and where you will stay. Of course people do just get up and go and see where it takes them (brave brave people!), but on the whole people plan.
Now put that same theory towards your eating habits. Are you better off seeing how you feel in the moment and having something in the fridge that will satisfy your level of hunger, or what you fancy there and then? Come dinner time are you going to be able to rustle up a satisfying meal for the family if you haven’t planned ahead, or are you just hoping that you picked up enough random items at the supermarket to be able to cobble together a cooked meal?
Are you seeing the benefits of planning yet?
I’d like you to try something ready for your next big food shop. Get out your favourite notebook, a spreadsheet, a chalkboard, a Pinterest board (see the previous post about Pinterest planning), the family calendar, whatever takes your fancy, and work out what you are going to eat for the week.
You can just plan out your evening meals, so that you know what they will be and then see what you fancy for breakfast and lunch each day, or go the whole hog and plan it all. The option you choose depends on you and your personality.
Do you need a full on routine and need to know all of your meals are planned, or are you better having planned but still having some flexibility, and so the evening meal planning is best for you?
There are a few reasons why it’s a good idea. Firstly, it’s motivating. If you are trying to improve the variety in your diet, eat more fresh food, lose weight, gain weight, or improve your regularity of meals then planning is super motivating. It gives you the starting blocks to build on and a plan that you can start to follow.
It helps you to shop smarter. You can buy just what you need, reducing food waste and maybe cutting back on the spending too.
When you know what you want to eat for the week you can form a shopping list, so when you get to the supermarket you can just pick up the items that you need rather than hunting around for options that you may be able to use. Doesn’t that sound less stressful? I really don’t enjoy food shopping so I like to have a list, get in, get what I need, and get out!
Don’t forget, you can use online supermarket shopping to plan out your basket and check your costs as you plan, so there will be no nasty surprises when you get to the shops.
It helps you to evaluate your own diet (if that’s what you are hoping to do). It’ll help you to spot patterns, see what you are eating overall, see where you might want to make some changes. Do you think you could use it as a way to plan in some more fruit and veg, or some more wholefoods, so that you can get more fibre in your diet?
Meal planning also takes away some of the stress of deciding what to eat each day. If you work full time for example, and need to feed the family at the end of a long day, then having a plan can help with this. Maybe you could plan ahead and be prepared enough to pop the slow cooker on in the morning, or even just have some veg peeled and chopped ready to cook.
Make meal planning a nice time too. Grab a coffee in the morning, or a tall cold drink in the evening if that is better for you. Find a space you like to sit in and look through some recipes. Get online, or check out one of the free magazines that your local supermarket offers you. Recipes are everywhere. Enjoy the satisfaction of having lots of lovely meals planned for the week ahead.
Just some ideas. There will be other ways to plan your week, but I hope that’s got the brain ticking and got you inspired. Now where’s that pen and paper………?
Please note: This post is intended to be general information that applies to people who don’t have diagnosed medical conditions and are not pregnant, and any figures correct at the time of writing. As always, please see a registered professional before making changes to your diet.