Life can get super busy, and it’s soooo tempting to rely on eating out or ordering in. But imagine how amazing it would be to always know what’s for dinner, and you didn’t have to rely on either of those options. Well, that’s one of the many benefits of meal planning!
Not only does it save you time and money, but it also ensures you are getting a well-balanced diet.
And hey, it’s not just about health – it can also help you from eating out too often (which I’m totally guilty of more times than I’d like to admit).
The key to successful meal planning in a way that works for you is to make it personalized to your preferences and lifestyle. It can be super flexible, you don’t have to eat the same meals daily, and you don’t have to cook every day.
If I’ve peaked your curiosity, read on!
Here are the eight benefits of meal planning, and how it can improve your health and overall lifestyle.
What is Meal Planning?
Ever heard of the saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail?” Well, it applies to food, too!
Meal planning is simply about organizing your meals ahead of time. It could be for the next day or the entire week, depending on your schedule.
It involves deciding what you’ll eat, making a shopping list, and then prepping your meals or ingredients.
1. Improve Dietary Quality
Meal planning can make a big difference in the quality of your diet. It’s been shown that people who actively plan their meals tend to stick to nutritional guidelines more closely.
It’s all about being mindful of what you eat, which not only helps you maintain a balanced diet but also gives you a wider range of food choices.
And that variety is important because it ensures you get all the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients you need for a healthier lifestyle.
2. May Be Associated With Obesity Prevention
In addition to helping you maintain a balanced diet, meal planning plays a significant role in weight management.
Research indicates that women who regularly plan their meals are less likely to struggle with overweight or obesity.
And while the correlation in men is specifically tied to obesity, it’s worth mentioning that meal planning benefits everyone.
When people are mindful of their food and weight management, they take a proactive approach to their health.
This is further supported by studies showing that successful weight loss maintainers often rely on meal planning as a primary go-to strategy.
3. Improve Time Scarcity & Organization
A busy schedule is often a common reason why people tend to opt for quick takeout meals. But guess what? Cooking can actually save you time in the long run!
By prepping meals in advance, you can skip the daily food preparation and cleaning hassle. For example, you don’t have to cook and prep everyday. Set aside one to two days per week to prep your meals in advance.
Although it might seem overwhelming at first, making grocery lists and investing time in prepping and cooking upfront can ultimately save you a lot of time.
4. Save Money
The most obvious benefit when it comes to meal planning is saving money! When you plan your meals, you’ll know what you’re cooking and have your grocery list ready.
This way, you can avoid overspending on unnecessary items and minimize food wastage. Plus, having a meal plan for the week means you won’t have to rely on expensive alternatives like eating out or ordering take-in.
Interesting Fact: Did you know the average American household spends around $3,000 to $3,500 per year dining out? That’s a lot of money.
5. Waste Less
Meal planning is an awesome strategy to significantly reduce waste, making our environment greener and more sustainable. Can you believe that almost 40% of food in America goes to waste? That’s quite a bit of waste.
On average, a family throws away about $2,200 worth of food every year. Imagine keeping that money in our pockets instead of the trash.
This is where meal planning comes in. It helps you avoid the frustrating experience of finding moldy sour cream or wilted greens in your fridge that you meant to consume but forgot about.
With meal planning, you can ensure that every food item is used in your cooking, leaving no room for forgetfulness and waste.
6. Prevents Impulsive Shopping
We’ve all been surprised by those unexpectedly high grocery bills from impulsive buying. Yes, I am also guilty of this *no shame*. In addition to waste prevention, by planning meals, we can create a detailed shopping list with exact quantities and ingredients, avoiding unnecessary purchases. This is another way meal planning helps us conserve resources and save extra cash.
7. Improve Emotional Wellness
Meal planning offers not only practical advantages but could also improve your emotional well-being! Eliminating the daily stress of deciding what to cook, especially after a long day at work, brings a sense of relief. Research indicates that meal prepping can be a positive contribution towards reducing stress and promoting mental wellbeing.
8. May Help You Live Longer
Eating many meals outside your home might not be the best for your health and longevity. Which kind of makes sense, right? When you eat out, you don’t know all the ingredients that are going into your food.
According to research, people who cooked and ate at home more often (like, less than one takeout meal a week) lived longer than those who constantly dined out (two meals or more per day).
The benefits of meal planning go beyond just saving money and making healthier food choices. It can boost your emotional well-being, reduce stress, and increase your lifespan! By dedicating time to plan your meals, you’re investing in a happier, healthier, less stressful lifestyle.
I hope this blog post helped you understand the benefits of meal planning.
So, what do you think about meal planning? Is this something you’d like to give a try? Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts and, if you’ve tried it, what your experience was like with it.
- Ducrot, Pauline et al. “Meal planning is associated with food variety, diet quality and body weight status in a large sample of French adults.” The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity vol. 14,1 12. 2 Feb. 2017, doi:10.1186/s12966-017-0461-7
- Yang Du, MD etc al. “Association Between Frequency of Eating Away-From-Home Meals and Risk of All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.