Check your calendar. Between work meetings, the commute, kids’ activities, and sleeping, do you allow time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? The hours in our day are limited and we have to decide what we will do with our time.
How many nights per week do you get home and stand in front of the refrigerator trying to decide what to make for dinner… again? (If someone would have told me that being an adult means planning dinner every single day for the rest of my life, I would have refused to grow up.)
How often do you succumb to exhaustion and just call the pizza man?
Enter meal planning. Don’t worry – we aren’t going to “Pinterest-ize” it. We are talking about real food for real people with real schedules. Catch my drift?
What can happen when you eat on the go
Meal planning can seem like more hassle than it’s worth. Especially if you have a packed schedule and your family has to be multiple places at once. So, not only do you have to plan dinner, but you have to figure out when you will cook it and when everyone will eat it. Right? Hmmm, not necessarily.
It’s time to weigh the pros and cons. First, let’s look at what can happen when you eat on the go.
- Limited options. When we don’t plan ahead, we are left to grab food whenever and where ever it is available. That may mean a gas station hot sandwich or pizza delivery.
- Lack of portion control. Portion sizes vary greatly from one eating establishment to another. That may leave you second guessing how much you are eating. According to a study, “When we don’t fully concentrate on our meals and the process of taking in food, we fall into a trap of mindless eating where we don’t track or recognize the food that has just been consumed.” Eating on the go comes down to distraction. “Any form of distraction, including eating at our desks can lead to weight gain.”
- Wasted food. Does this sound familiar: You go to the grocery store on Sunday and buy your family’s favorites including ingredients for potential dinners this week. But then the family calendar explodes, you are running from one thing to the next, and the food in the refrigerator just sits.
Benefits of meal planning
- Cost savings. One grocery run and one list will cover your entire week’s needs. With fewer last minute trips to the store, it’s likely you’ll cut back on splurges. In addition, when you meal plan, you can plan ahead and purchase in bulk allowing you to pre-plan how leftovers will be reused into new meals.
- Maintain wellness goals. Meal planning allows balanced meals that are satisfying and nutrient-dense making it easier to maintain your wellness goals.
- Time savings. Being hungry and realizing you have nothing planned is stressful. Instead of standing in front of the refrigerator deciding what to cook for dinner, you can have a well balanced meal ready in minutes.
Remember, meal planning doesn’t have to be time consuming or hard. Start by making a list of 3 (easy/fast prep) meals your family loves and stock your refrigerator with the ingredients. Then look at your calendar and decide what days this week you will make those 3 meals. Want to get extra crazy? Double the recipe and use as leftovers throughout the week!
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