You may be wondering, why the hype on meal planning and food prep? I often am asked why I feel so strongly about meal planning and food prep. The truth is the advantages of meal planning are huge and today I am sharing with you my top 5. And if you are ready to start meal planning and food prep yourself but do not know how to start, sign-up for my monthly meal planning program where I take out the hard work by providing the recipes, instructions and grocery list. All you have to do is get in the kitchen and have fun! Make it a whole family event where the kids are able to help and learn all at the same time. Sign up for your first week free here.
1) Meal Planning Saves Time
Yes, I know it seems like you are spending more time when you have to sit down and plan out your family's meals for the week, but actually, you save a ton of time. The average person saves 5 hours per week when they spend just 60-90 minutes to meal plan and food prep. When eating out, it takes time to decide where and what to eat. When you meal plan and prep, instead of chopping up food several times a week, you need it twice, you chop it once. You take one trip instead of several to the grocery store. Even going to a restaurant or drive-thru is going to eat up at least 30-60 minutes of deciding, driving and waiting, which is plenty of time to prepare a meal at home when it is already planned and prepped or ready to re-warm. The best part, you gain back those 5 hours to spend relaxing and hanging out with your family.
2) Meal Planning Saves Money
The average American spends $232 per month eating meals prepared outside of the home, which equals on average $12.75 per meal. However, the average cost of meals planned at home is $6.30, that's more than half the price of eating out!
For families, the average meal for 4 when preparing meals at home is $20 vs $60 at restaurants/fast food. Challenge yourself to forgo eating out for 2 weeks and spend the extra money on a fun activity with the family such as laser tag, trampoline park or movie night.
3) Meal Planning Makes Healthy Eating Easier
When at home, children consume greater quantities of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. In contrast, children of families that eat out more at restaurants/convenience foods consume more fried foods and soda.
Restaurants of any kind tend to serve meals that are high in fat, sugar and sodium; these foods are calorically dense but nutritiously poor. They do not provide the mental or physical energy you and your family need to thrive and instead make you more tired and vulnerable to getting sick and put you at higher risk for developing chronic diseases.
Plus, have you noticed the size of meals at your favorite restaurant? Portions today are much larger than they were 50 years ago. This may be a contributing factor to the increased incidence in obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease. When we eat out, we tend to eat a substantially larger amount of calories that can contribute to our waist line than when we eat meals at home or bring leftovers.
When you prepare meals, you are in charge of the ingredients, how it is prepared and the portion on your plate. You can more easily have a balanced plate that is portioned to you and your calorie and nutrient needs.
4) Meal Planning Allows us to Reach our Goals
We cannot reach our goals through willpower alone because willpower is dependent on our day, our stress level and how we feel. By meal planning, we take will power and feelings out of the equation. We review our weekly schedule and are able to plan our health goals into our week. Our goals become realistic and relevant to our lives at that moment and we are able to successfully meet our health goals.
5) Meal Planning Allows us to Have Quality Time with our Family and Friends
Get everyone in the kitchen and involved: young kids can tear, stir, measure and more, plus they learn valuable kitchen skills and are more willing to try new foods if they help make them. Make it fun, turn on some music, have a healthy snack so you're not hungry, laugh and enjoy each other. It may get messy, but you'll have those memories forever. Some of my favorite memories are with my mom or Granny in the kitchen. The best part is you get to enjoy and share a meal together in the comfort of your home.
Want to get together with your friends? Have a potluck where everyone is responsible for bringing part of dinner over. Now, you can enjoy each other's company, with or without kids, the kids can play and not be stuck trying to sit still at the table like they have to at restaurants and you are in control of your portion sizes.
To summarize: when we meal plan, we can be more intentional about providing our bodies with foods that support our health, give us energy, help us get to and maintain a healthy weight and provide our kids with the nutrients their bodies need for mental and physical development.
If you are ready to start meal planning and food prep yourself but do not know how to start, sign-up for my monthly meal planning program where I take out the hard work by providing the recipes, instructions and grocery list. All you have to do is get in the kitchen and have fun! Make it a whole family event where the kids are able to help and learn all at the same time. Sign up for your first week free by clicking here.