Sunday, July 3, 2011

Why Meal Planning Works and How to Get Started

Why Meal Planning Works

Meal Planning Saves Time
No more wasting time wondering what you are going to make for dinner, making daily trips to the market etc.  A good meal plan should mean just one main weekly shop and one quick trip mid week to top up your supply of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Meal Planning Saves Money
When we don't meal plan we end up eating out more, grabbing expensive snacks on the go and doing multiple grocery runs.  Because we don't have a plan, we end up buying even more impulse items at the store.  It is a viscous cycle.

Meal Planning = Weight Loss/Maintenance
When you meal plan, you are not likely to 'plan' an unhealthy meal.  Instead you will be thinking about food groups, variety and nutrition.  You are less likely to eat high fat/sugar convenience snacks.  You are less likely skip meals and overeat at night.  You are less likely to order in.  You are less likely to eat dinner late at night.  You get the idea.

Planned Meals Taste Better
They do.  They really, really do.  When you take the time and effort to plan your meal and are successful achieving your goals… everything tastes better. 

Meal Planning Decreases Stress (especially on the home front)
Most couples, especially couples with children, argue about ‘what’s for dinner?’ several days a week.  Life is to short.

How to Get Started

1.      Is your partner on board?  If yes, fantastic.  If no, let it go and carry on.  Life is short and you matter.

2.      Choose one day a week to do your meal planning and stick to it.  Make sure you can go grocery shopping the same or the next day.  If possible, alternate who shops each week. 

3.      If your kids are old enough, include them in the meal planning.  Most kid’s eating habits improve when they are part of the decision making process.

4.      To save even more time, try a cook book with weekly dinner recipes and accompanying shopping lists.  I like ‘Cooking for the Rushed’.

5.      Post your meal plan where everyone can see it and assign responsibilities.  Ex. She cooks.  He cleans up. 

6.      Talk about it.  Yes, it is posted for all to see but don’t assume everyone is reading it.  Talk about the next day’s meal plan the night before and mention it again in the morning.  Prevent conflict and foster positive results.

7.      Don’t give up if you ‘mess up’.  Just re-evaluate the plan for the week and keep on trucking.

8. Tell others that you are meal planning.  You can expect plenty of encouragement.