Woman writing down recipe in a dairy from internet using laptop in kitchenLife can often become stressful and busy between all of your responsibilities. Let’s be real, after a long day of work, the last thing you want to do is spend the next couple of hours putting together dinner. The same can be said for getting up early to make breakfast and lunch.

That is why planning and preparing the week’s meals in advance will not only help you save time and money, it allows you to eat healthier meals. No need for last minute decisions to go to a restaurant or through a drive-thru because you don’t have time to fix something at home. It also reduces the impulse to choose less healthy options if you have healthier options pre-prepared ready and waiting. When we are hungry, we typically tend to make less healthy choices in the moment.

The purpose of meal planning is to save you time during the week while also giving you access to healthier nutritious meals. How you choose to meal plan is up to you. Some people prepare all of their meals for the week (breakfast, lunch and dinner), while others may only prepare one meal for each day of the week. Whichever way you want to do it, the benefits will amaze you.

Here are 5 benefits of meal planning:

Reduce stress – Knowing you have to decide on and rush to prepare meals each day can become stressful. This unnecessary stress can not only affect you emotionally, it can also affect your overall health. Stress can cause high blood pressure, heart problems, depression, along with many other health issues. Just taking the simple step of planning out your meals in advance could be better for your health.

Save money – Eating out can be costly, especially eating lunch out every work day at those expensive restaurants by your office or on the road. Imagine how much you could save by prepping. Also, by making a grocery list and buying in bulk, you will go to the grocery store fewer times. This then helps keep you from buying impulse purchases as you walk down the aisles or wait in line. By planning and prepping your meals, you could easily save hundreds of dollars a month.

Manage weight – Meal planning can help you choose fresh nutritious food. You know what you’re having for every meal, and you know exactly what you’re putting into your body, because you made it. This allows you to control what you’re eating. By portioning out your meals, you’re eating the correct amount of food, which is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight. This way you don’t overeat. Plus, it helps you cut back on junk food.

Save time – We have all stood in front of our refrigerator wondering what we’re going to make to eat. Having the food already put together will save you time every day. Yes, there is time needed for planning and prepping your meals, but if you do it on one day, it saves so much time the rest of the week.

Become healthier – There are many advantages to meal planning, but this may be the best part. Cooking every meal allows you to eat less processed food. When you see every meal you’re going to eat written out, you will begin to add a variety of different vegetables, proteins, and grains to your menus. All of this can lead to a healthier you.

Getting started with meal planning is easy. There are many recipe books out for meal planning, and a quick search on Pinterest will give you hundreds of ideas. There are also a lot of apps available that can help with meal planning, such as Mealime, Paprika, and PlateJoy.

Find what works for you and get started today!

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Susan Wilson, R.D.

Susan Wilson is a registered dietitian with UofL Physicians – Pediatric Gastroenterology. She received her bachelor’s degree in dietetics from the University of Kentucky, and her dietetic practicum rotations through Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pa. She is currently working on completing her master’s in public health promotion. She has served on the Kentucky Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics board of directors for the past two years. Wilson’s daughter has a nut and peanut allergy. This firsthand knowledge helps her as she works with her patients with food allergies, intolerance or any other condition where a restrictive diet is required. When she has any downtime, she enjoys jogging, working in her garden, and traveling to new places.

All posts by Susan Wilson, R.D.
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