Monday, 31 October 2022

Meal Planning With Intention


meal plan with intention

Meal planning is taking time to plan and write down your meals for a period of time, which could be a week, biweekly or monthly. Meal planning is not just about making a list of groceries and being sure you get everything on that list. It also takes having a solid plan, expecting the unexpected, and being realistic.

A big part of meal planning with intention involves considering you and/or your family’s specific needs  knowing that sometimes things come up and your meals won’t always be perfect. The idea is not to start any meal from scratch.

Benefits of Meal Planning

Eat Healthy Meals

If you want to make the switch to being a healthy eater who transforms their diet, one way to look at it is just by balancing your plate. Meal planning helps you to control your food choices because you get to plan and prepare your meals ahead of time. Planning out your meals makes it easier to stick to your food choices.

 Healthy, Balanced Plate

Meal planning can help you create a balanced plate. A balanced plate is simply one that contains all the necessary nutrients for a healthy meal. Not every plate will have these in the same portions, but it is a good place to start when transforming your diet to a healthy, sustainable one. The basics nutrients to focus on with a balanced plate include having a protein, carb, and a healthy fat, with some fruits or veggies in for fiber. 

For example, a dinner with salmon, brown rice, and roasted vegetables fit all the categories. Salmon is both protein and healthy fats, the brown rice is your carb, and vegetables allow you to get in more fiber, plus also have some carbs. If you used oil to cook your vegetables, that can be a fat as well.

What Nutrients Are You Missing?

Planning your meals can help you figure out if you might be missing out on some important nutrients, Start by listing all your favorite meals and snacks, and what you eat most often. Next to each meal, write down the components, like protein, carb, fat, fiber. Do you notice a trend of one category of foods you always eat? Maybe you have found you are really good at getting your carbs in, but tend to be missing out on fiber. Or perhaps you are great with protein and carbs, but don’t have a lot of healthy fats in your diet.

Read: 9 Heart Healthy Low Cholesterol Foods

Finding the Missing Ingredient

Of those food groups or nutrients you notice you don’t have much in your meals, which ones do you enjoy in those food groups? If you are not getting enough fiber in your meals, then you need to find some foods with fiber, and list the ones you enjoy. This might be healthy grains, vegetables, or fruits. Make a list of these foods that you can incorporate more into your meals, and your diet will start being a lot healthier and more balanced.

Eat the Right Portions

Planning and portioning out your food ahead of time can help to stop you from overeating. 

Reduce Food Waste 

You buy only what you need for your meals.

Save Money

Planning and cooking your meals at home can be less expensive than eating out.

Save Time

 Planning and cooking meals you love ahead can save time, You don't have to waste time deciding what to eat or cooking from scratch. This is helpful if you have a busy schedule or need to leave your home early in the morning.

Reduce Grocery Store/Market Time

When you have planned your meals ahead, you will have a list of the exact food items and groceries you need. This reduces time you spend going to the stores frequently to buy an ingredient for an unplanned meal. It also reduces time spent wandering at the grocery store because you have a list of the food items you want to buy.

Meal Planning Tips

Start With a Plan

You should always have a good plan when you are meal prepping. For some people, they like to write down days they know they will be eating out and just plan the remaining days, while others are on a budget and want to use what they have in their fridge as much as possible in the meal plan.

Create a weekly habit where you go through the food you have, decide on meals with those ingredients, and make a list of what you need. This is a really easy way to start with healthy meal planning.

Use Ingredients That Cross Over Multiple Meals

To avoid getting bored, think of foods or ingredients that you can add to your meal plan that you are able to use for multiple types of meals. 

For example, you might have veggies that you are using for a salad, and use the leftover veggies in sandwiches or wraps throughout the week. You can use parmesan cheese for pizza, pasta, and even to top salads, and use leftover chicken for  new types of casseroles.

Don’t Cook Too Many New Recipes at One Time

If you try to cook 5 brand new recipes in one week, you will probably get overwhelmed, and by day 3 or 4, be over cooking altogether. When you first get started with meal planning and meal prep, choose just 1-2 new recipes to try each week. 

This allows you try new recipes and new foods for your healthy diet, but you can avoid becoming stressed or overwhelmed. It also ensures you are also cooking some meals that you already know your family enjoys.

Be Realistic With Your Own Needs and Preferences

It is great to use other meal plans people recommend, but if your family hates pasta, for instance, why are you trying to make a pasta salad with dinner one night? The great thing about meal planning is that it is easy to personalize to your own family’s preferences. Always start with foods you enjoy, and use those to create healthy meals.

Read: How To Eat Healthy On A Low Budget

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