Clean eating, when you eat mostly minimally processed foods, is a popular way to approach a healthy diet. By focusing on whole foods, you eliminate a lot of common high-calorie, sodium-heavy foods that lack nutritional substance.
Meal planning is a strong strategy to help you stick to a smart eating plan. An added benefit of meal planning is that people who meal prep tend to eat out less, which has huge cost savings over time. But during the ongoing pandemic, it might seem more difficult to be motivated to plan out your eating.
Here are 5 ways to start, or restart, meal planning to improve your eating habits.
It’s a lot easier to meal prep when you have a full pantry. Think through what your staples should be—such as beans, brown rice, nuts, and seeds—and make sure you have plenty stocked.
When you have the basics on hand, you don’t have to spend as much time trying to figure out what you’re going to make. Then, when something comes up and disrupts your plan, you’ll still have healthy options that are easy to whip up.
Listen as Provider Andrea Caprio explains:
When you’re ready ahead of time, life can happen without upsetting your plan.
When you try to plan what you’re going to eat ahead of time, you realize something – people need to eat often.
Diving right into planning all meals and snacks may work for some, but for others, the idea of that much preparation is insurmountable. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can begin slowly and work your way up to a full menu.
Provider Anita Steele describes how to do it:
Slowly increasing which and how many meals you plan and prep for increases your rate of success because you build on your accomplishments.
If you’ve got younger children at home, have them help you plan and prep family meals. It gives them insight into what makes a healthy meal, ownership over the meal, and opportunities to try new foods.
Putting them in charge of some of their own meal prep also takes the responsibility off of you and hands it over to them (yay!).
Listen as Provider Erin Darling explains:
If your kids are home with you a lot, then you have new ways of bringing them to the kitchen – and the table. The critical thinking and math involved in recipe building and meal preparation are great real-life lessons for children to think through.
Provider Andrea Caprio explains:
Encouraging other people in your home to help with meals lets you connect with them in new ways.
Cooking for other people can give you insight into their personality. Knowing what they like and don’t like to eat – and honoring those preferences is a way of showing you care.
But wanting to cook someone’s favorite foods doesn’t mean you need to eat unhealthy foods, or cook separate meals. You can work to bring the two together. It’s not that you need to cook an individual meal for everyone at your table, but using your family’s preferences to guide your menu can encourage them to eat healthier foods.
In addition to making favorites healthier, preparing meals at home and prepping for them ahead of time also has a cost-saving benefit. When you plan your meals for the week, you can incorporate some of the same ingredients into several meals. It allows you to maximize the use of your grocery store run, and it eliminates food waste because you won’t forget about that half of a bell pepper sitting in your fridge.
Provider Zachary Cooper describes how:
It’s not just children who have strong food preferences. Adults can also follow specific diets. If this is the case in your home, meal planning will still work. When people in your family have specific dietary needs, you may need to do more initial planning, like which foods can be cooked together. Over time, the planning will become second-nature.
Provider Anita Steele explains:
Adding one more to-do to your list may sound crazy, but it will help in the long-run. By making a set time to meal prep—such as Sunday afternoons, in the morning, etc.—you make eating healthy easier. When you’re busy, the food is already cut, mixed, and assembled. All you need to do is heat it up (if needed) and serve.
Listen as Provider Julia Pontones describes the benefit:
Even though we know how beneficial meal prep can be for our menus, time, and wallets, it can still slide down on our priority list until we just don’t do it. There’s a way around that. The trick is to make meal prep something you can’t avoid.
Provider Erin Darling explains:
Making meal prep an unavoidable part of your weekly routine will help you stick to your eating goals.
The ongoing pandemic and increased time at home has changed how many people eat, work, and live. But if healthy and clean eating is your goal, creating a meal planning and preparation routine will give you balance.
If you want to explore how to start a meal plan or a clean eating routine, reach out to these TaskHuman providers for a 1-on-1 live video call today.