By Anneke Aubert, Certified Culinary Nutrition Expert
These days everyone is “busy,” whether we like it or not, and so it becomes difficult to pay attention to our broader health, resulting in the majority of us only taking action and seeking help when something serious has already taken over our bodies. That is where the benefits of a meal plan come in, at least when it comes to your daily nutrition. If you just spend a little time at the beginning of each week prepping for the days ahead you wouldn’t end your week feeling so depleted, stressed or tired. How you ask? I have 5 detailed reasons below to justify why everyone should use a meal plan.
1. Get all your vitamins & nutrients from food!
Having a well thought out meal plan can help ensure you are getting a variety of nutrients and vitamins. That means you will feel more energized throughout the day, as well as reduce long-term effects of poor diet. Planning meals in advance means that you can add variety and nutritionally beneficial foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes to your daily diet. Knowing in advance what you are eating each day means you won’t be left feeling overwhelmed trying to decide what to eat for each meal. Without a doubt having an organized meal plan will lead to less or no consumption of processed, frozen or take out foods, which can also be costly to your wallet and health.
2. Save money on grocery bills!
Speaking of your wallet, meal planning is a great way to save money. Why you ask? Well, the fact that you are planning ahead means that you will only purchase what you need. This is especially important with perishable food items like fresh produce, dairy or meat that can spoil if you don’t have a plan for how you will use them. A meal plan means that at the end of the week you won’t be throwing away rotten spoiled food that you forgot you had in the back of your fridge. Another way meal planning can help reduce grocery costs is by selecting seasonal recipes or checking your local grocery store flyer to see what the weekly deals are and integrating these items into your plan. Cooking with the season usually means these foods are local and highly available, therefore making them more affordable than items that might be shipped from long distances. Your health can also benefit from eating locally and seasonally, as nutrient content is higher in foods that have not travelled great distances.
3. You may actually spend less time in the kitchen!
Proper meal planning by you or your nutrition expert may actually lead to you spending less time in the kitchen… if desired. I always ask my clients to choose one day a week where on that day they can reserve an hour or two to spend time prepping for the week ahead. An hour or two in the kitchen to some may sound like an eternity, but most will find that the tasks done in this time can feel like a form of therapy; wash, peel, cut, store, wash, peel, cut, store, repeat. Meal prep day for my clients is usually a time for them to not only make some recipes ahead of time, but a time to prep individual ingredients for snacks and meals that will be made later in the week. If you have family or friends that you think could reap the benefits of this therapeutic experience have them come help. The joy in cooking comes from sharing that food with the ones you care about.
4. Improve the efficiency of your day!
Having a well-organized meal plan can make your time in the kitchen a breeze. We all have those days where we find ourselves staring into the abyss of our fridge, trying to decide what we should make for dinner, and if we only had that one extra ingredient than we could make some awesome stir-fry, power bowl or casserole! Well, having a meal plan can be your saving grace when it comes to these tough decisions, as the meals are all planned out in advance taking the decision factor out of your morning, afternoon or evening. Not only will it help meal time prep be more efficient, a proper meal plan can help organize your fridge so you see clearly when you open the door to pull out your next snack or meal. Knowing what recipes are going to be made ahead of time and having ingredients prepped in advance, means you won’t be left wondering what your next meal is going to be, over and over again.
5. Advance recovery of health conditions or concerns!
A well researched personalized meal plan with recipes and foods that are beneficial to you and your family’s specific health conditions and concerns can significantly reduce symptoms of ongoing or potential health problems. Having a supportive health care provider, like a naturopath or your family doctor, who is an advocate for not only your current but future health concerns is so important when it comes to understanding what your individual body needs. Quite often I utilize doctor’s recommendations when creating a personalized meal plan for a client, making sure to research and pick specific foods that will be nutritionally beneficial to their health concerns and improve their body functions. Getting to know your body and what you are putting in it is the first step to taking responsibility for your own health!
For more information on custom meal plans created by Anneke Aubert click here!