Trying to monitor your calories intake?
Having a hard time deciding what to eat?
Overspending your food budget every month?
If you answered “Yes” to any of the above, meal planning is exactly what you need.
1. Meal… Meal what?
Photo: Amy Dix
Welcome to the world of meal planning! While this is not a new concept, meal planning came back in trend recently because of its many benefits (talked more about below). To put it simply, meal planning involves a detailed pre-planning of the meals you have daily. What most people do is that they specify the food they will eat or serve for all the three meals they have each day.
2. Why the trouble?
The benefits outweigh the hassle when it comes to meal planning.
- If you’re looking to lose weight effectively, meal planning can assist you in monitoring your calories intake.
- If you have a fear of choices, meal planning saves you from panicking over what to eat.
- If you are cooking for the family, meal planning makes you more efficient and allows you to bond with your family as everyone can sit down together to brainstorm about food ideas.
- If you’re on a tight budget, meal planning allows you to monitor your food expense and stretch your dollar. An effective meal plan ensures that you stick to your grocery list and resist impulsive purchases.
3. How should I go about it?
Firstly, jot down some of your favorite meals and meal suggestions from your family. If you run out of ideas, you can source for more from the vast array of recipe websites on the net. When you first begin cultivating the habit of meal planning, start small by planning the meals for one week. Aside from the main dishes, be sure to factor in any side dishes if necessary. Keep in consideration the amount of time needed to prepare these meals, and be realistic with your schedule. Leave the meals that require long preparation for a day where you are not tight with time.
If you’re looking to eat healthily and lose weight, make sure to consume food that are low in calories such as soba noodles which have 50% fewer calories than whole-wheat spaghetti, vegetables (e.g. watercress, celery and radish), and chicken breast which is rich in protein.
Thereafter, create a shopping list of the ingredients you have to buy to make these meals and come up with a rough estimation of the total cost. If the expense is within your budget, go ahead and head to the supermarket. If the cost comes out higher than budgeted, you have to go back and revise your meal plan.
By taking half an hour off your time to plan for the meals each week, you will be able to keep your meals organized and healthy. Stop ordering take-outs or going to the drive-throughs for a quick solution. Cooking yourself is a healthier option for you and your family.
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