By Kylie Spicer, Accredited Practising Dietitian
Meal planning isn’t a mundane task – it’s a gateway to a more vibrant, budget–savvy life. Whether you’re eager to build muscle, reduce unwanted fat stores, improve your budget, or simplify your daily routine, meal planning can be your delicious journey to a better life.
In this article, we’ll explore why meal planning is essential and how it can increase your savings, reduce food waste, streamline your shopping, alleviate mealtime stress and help you achieve your health goals.
Meal planning is your compass, guiding you towards a more enriching life. Here’s why it matters:
Health goals – nourish your wellbeing
Meal planning empowers you to embrace foods packed with vital nutrients to assist with meeting your health goals, whether it is increasing calcium for osteoporosis, reducing inflammatory foods to improve chronic diseases, reducing fat and building muscle for a healthier body. A thoughtful plan is the key to achieving your health and lifestyle goals.
Budget management – financial freedom
Meal planning is your tool kit for affordable, budget–friendly meals, allowing you to stick to your financial goals. With a well–crafted plan, you’ll be less tempted to impulse buy, dine out or order takeaway, saving you money in the long run.
Simplified shopping – your shopping companion
Meal planning ensures you’re well–prepared for your shopping trip, preventing impulsive spending or time wandering the aisles picking up ingredients only to find you have four of them in the pantry. You can also bid farewell to forgotten food in your fridge. Your meal plan ensures that every purchase is meaningful and will be used.
Time efficiency – more “you” time
Your meal plan cuts through meal preparation time, granting you more time to enjoy life, especially when you incorporate who is cooking or helping to cook each meal. Double batch cooking can be a great strategy to ensure you eat nutritiously and avoid takeaway orders. Some great frozen options include fried rice, bolognese or savoury mince and casseroles.
Meal planning can also mean fewer trips to the store as you get all you need in the first shop meaning more time for the things that matter most.
Stress reduction – a serene dining experience
At the end of a long day, with a meal plan, you can enjoy dinner without the daily stress of deciding what to cook, which can be the hardest part of cooking dinner. If you have trouble with fussy children, involving them in the meal planning process, planning alternative easy options and giving them notice of what to expect can assist in reducing food refusal and food wastage.
If you are unmotivated to cook, put on some music to shift your mood. You can relax knowing your meal plan guarantees a well–balanced diet, eliminating concerns about nutrition.
Launching Your Culinary Journey into meal planning
- Choose a specific day each week to embark on your meal–planning adventure.
- Explore your culinary preferences and health objectives.
- Craft a menu that promises delightful, nutrition–rich meals. Many households find a rotational, fortnightly menu that is changed up seasonally, works perfectly including from year to year. Planning breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks around the activities the other people in the household are doing is also essential.
- Look in the fridge and cupboards to check what you have and what you need.
- Create a shopping list and stick to it, ensuring your grocery spending stays on track.
- Have a backup plan. When somehow, things don’t go to plan, have a list of simple meals your family can eat, such as baked beans on toast, cereal for dinner, cheese toasties, sandwiches or wraps, salad with tuna and a can of corn.
- Become a meal prep pro, saving you valuable time during the week.
Tools for a smooth meal planning session
- Meal Planning Apps: Your trusted companions, simplifying the meal planning process and offering recipe suggestions.
- Culinary Inspiration: Seek out cookbooks and online recipes to discover tasty, budget–friendly ideas.
- Food Storage Containers: Invest in quality containers for organised meal prep and food storage.
Meal planning isn’t just a chore; it’s a tantalising journey filled with delicious possibilities. It equips you to eat healthier, save money, streamline your grocery shopping, eliminate food waste, free up time, and transform mealtime stress into peace. Whether you’re striving to stay fit and healthy, bolster your savings, or simply simplify your life, embrace the joys of meal planning and embark on a flavourful path to a healthier, budget–friendly lifestyle.
Kylie is warm, non–judgemental and passionate Dietitian/Nutritionist working at Bright Diets. She enjoys working with people of all ages in a supportive and empowering way to assist them to improve their health and wellbeing. Contact Kylie on 0419 612 807, www.brightdiets.com.au or Bright Diets Facebook page.