ARTICLES

Meal Planning: What, Why and How

 

Sitting down at the start of the week and planning out your meals is without a doubt the best way to eat healthily and save money. Knowing what you are having for dinner one evening is the difference between eating a nutritious, balanced meal and ordering Deliveroo, picking up food to go or devouring the contents of your kitchen. Whether you are a fan of cooking from scratch, using meal box delivery services or ordering from meal prep companies, meal planning is always a beneficial process and is easy to incorporate. You will waste less food, spend less money and stress less about what you are going to eat. While it can take a bit of time to sit down at the weekend and plan out the week ahead, do a food shop or order your meals, it is more than worth it.

 

How to plan your meals 

  • Sit down on a Sunday with your diary/calendar and a shopping list. Look at what events you have on, how busy you are and when you are heading to the gym. Use this to give you a loose framework of what days you need quick meals on and what days you may need a more filling meal to refuel after exercise.
  • Aim to plan around 5 dinners with some breakfast and lunch options. This gives you flexibility in case you want to eat out with friends or have loads of leftovers to eat up.
  • If you know you want to use a meal prep or meal box service, head to your preferred ordering site and pick your meals with your diary in mind and then pencil them in to your diary so you know what meals you are having when. Using Gousto as an example, you may order a quick 20 min meal for that night that you know you are going to be in late for work and a chicken pasta dish to have after your spin class.
  • If you are cooking, as you think of recipes to have, fill out your shopping list ready to take to the shops. Try and do your shop on a Sunday so that you have all the food you need for the week ready to go.
  • Unless you are using a meal prep service, try and do some of your preparation on a Sunday so that you have food ready for the week ahead. Prepping your lunches will guarantee you nutritious meals to eat at work rather than heading to Pret and grabbing a sandwich.
  • Another way to prep lunches is to cook extra of your dinner and save it for lunch the next day. You can double up your Gousto order to allow you to cook extra portions at once or order extra of your prepped meals to cover lunches.

 

What to include 

  • Plan your meals with your nutrition and fitness goals in mind. Trying to eat more veg? Put it in your meal plan and stick to it! Trying to hit your macros? Plan with your macros in mind rather than tracking and changing as you go. Planning is key to smashing your goals.
  • If you are using a meal service, pay attention to the nutrition of the dishes you are ordering and make sure they align with your goals.
  • Try to plan your week to have a range of meals, variation is key to ensure good nutrition so include lots of different vegetables, different carbohydrate sources and different proteins to get a range of nutrients.
  • It can be easy to stick to the meat, carb and veg pattern but including fish is important for our diet. The omega-3s in fish do wonderful things for our bodies, so aim to get at least one portion a week.
  • Red meat is an amazing source of iron, so meat-eaters should include 1 portion a week to keep their iron stores up – this is particularly important for women!
  • Vegans and vegetarians should plan their meals to ensure they always have a good source of plant-based protein.
  • When building your meals, aim for 1/3 of your plate to be vegetables, 1/3 to be a wholegrain carb and 1/3 to be a source of protein and fats. 

Hopefully this will help you figure out how to plan your meals a bit more efficiently and help you reach your nutrition and fitness goals! Looking for a meal prep or meal box service to try? Use the YouRCook search tool to find the right one for you!
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