Techniques like meal planning and preparation are vital assets in the pursuit of health and wellness. In addition to helping, you save time and money, a well-thought-out meal plan can boost the quality of your diet and get you closer to your health goals.
Do you often find yourself struggling with what to cook for your next meal? If that is the case, know that you are not alone. After a long and busy day, mealtimes pose an additional source of tension, uncertainty, and even anxiety for a great number of individuals, couples, and families. Because of this, making a decision on what to eat and ensuring that you have the required foods on hand can appear to be nothing more than false dreams. As a result, ordering food from a restaurant becomes an enticing, costly, and regular default option. This can affect both our goals to cook more at home and our efforts to improve our nutrition. Having said that, this is not an inevitable outcome. The age-old question of what to cook for lunch or dinner? can finally be put to rest with the assistance of some careful meal preparation tips.
What is Meal Plan
Meal plans are typically in the form of fixed templates that outline what should be consumed for each meal. Meal plans frequently involve eating the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner multiple times in a row. In addition, they often do not take into account the timetable you have for cooking or the ingredients that you need to use up before they go bad.
What is Meal Planning
Meal planning is the process of selecting ahead of time what meals you will eat by making use of your schedule, preferences, items already in your pantry, seasonal produce, sale items, and other factors. As a result, meal planning typically results in going to the grocery store just once per week, purchasing only the things that are required, and involving other people (such as family members) in the process of developing the menu. You may make your own weekly meal plans if you are proficient with meal planning and know what foods go well together.
Here are some easy ways to make meal planning part of your routine.
It can be intimidating to make a meal plan for the first time or after a long break. Meal planning is like any other positive change. Starting small and growing confidence is a terrific strategy to make your new habit stick. Plan a couple of meals or snacks for the week. You'll find the best planning methods, and you may gradually add more meals to your schedule.
Consider each food group
Whether you're planning meals for a week, month, or a few days, make sure each food category is included. The best meal plan emphasises whole foods such fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, high-quality protein, and healthy fats while reducing refined grains, added sugars, and excess salt. Think about each food group while you browse your favourite recipes. Fill in the gaps if any are missing.
Successful meal plans require organisation. Since you'll know what you have and where your equipment and ingredients are, menu planning, grocery shopping, and meal prep are easy with an organised kitchen, pantry, and refrigerator. There's no wrong way to organise your meal prep areas. Just make sure it suits you.
Food Storage Containers
One of the most crucial components of every kitchen is a set of food storage containers. Meal prepping can be an absolute pain if your cabinet is stocked with random containers without matching lids. Purchasing high-quality storage containers is a wise investment. Think about how you plan to utilise each container before you buy it. It's important to use containers that can withstand the temperature extremes of the freezer, and microwave. Glass is microwave safe and more eco-friendly than plastic or metal. They can be found in a variety of retail and online outlets. Also, it's helpful to have various sizes for various foods.
Well stocked pantry
You may save time and effort on both meal preparation and menu planning by keeping a supply of pantry staples on hand at all times. Some examples of nutritious and flexible pantry staples are whole grains, legumes, oils, and baking basics. If you already have some of these staples in your pantry, your weekly grocery trip can focus solely on picking up perishable items. As a result, you may plan your meals with less stress and greater efficiency.
Video credit: HAPPY HOMEMAKING
Shop your pantry first and Buy in bulk
Make sure you have everything you need on hand before you sit down to prepare your meals. Search your cupboards, freezer, and fridge for perishables and write a list of what you need to eat before it goes bad. As a result, you'll be able to use up the food you currently have on hand, cut down on waste, and avoid making unnecessary repeat purchases. Use the supermarket's bulk department to your advantage to save money, avoid buying more than you need, and cut down on packaging. Here you may stock up on dry goods including rice, cereal, almonds, seeds, dried fruit, and beans.
Plan to make plenty for leftovers if you don't want to spend time in the kitchen every day of the week. Making a few extra dishes of dinner is a terrific way to save time and have lunch ready for tomorrow. If you're not a fan of leftovers, consider how you may transform them into something you'd actually enjoy eating. Shred the leftover paneer from dinner the night before and use it in tacos, sandwiches, or as a salad topping for lunch the next day.
Cook in Batches
Foods can be prepared in bulk and stored in the fridge or freezer for use in a variety of recipes throughout the week. If you don't have much time to devote to cooking throughout the week, this strategy can be a lifesaver. Prep for the week's salads, stir-fries, scrambles, and grain bowls by making a large amount of quinoa or rice and roasting a large tray of vegetables, tofu, or chicken. Make a big quantity of chicken, or chickpea salad to use in sandwiches, on salads, or just to snack on with bread.