How Meal Planning Makes you Healthier, Richer and a Better Cook

posted 10/17/2014 in General

There are two problems that are pervasive not only in Iowa, but across the United States as well: we don’t save enough money and we don’t eat healthy enough.

Over 25 percent of Americans don’t have any emergency savings, and even the majority of those who do have savings (67 percent) don’t have enough according to a survey from Bankrate.com released in June of this year. We’re failing when it comes to our health, too; no state has an obesity percentage below 20 percent of its adult population, with Iowa falling into the 30-35 percent obesity category according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How Planning Your Meal Planning can Help

Meal planning? Seriously?

Yes.

Not only does planning out your meals give you a better idea of what you are putting into your body, but helps you avoid impulse eating that is both unhealthy and expensive. It can also sharpen your cooking skills. Let’s take a look.

Why Meal Planning is Healthier

How often do you have your whole week’s meals laid out in front of you so you can see what you’re eating? For most of us, the answer is never. Listing out the meals you’ll make for the week allows you to spot deficiencies (probably in fresh fruits and vegetables) and overeating (often in carbohydrates, fats and sugar). If variety is the spice of life, then a variety of foods of different colors (a colorful plate is a healthy plate!) does the body good.

Having your meals planned, and possibly made in advance when possible, also eliminates impulse eating and cooking. Sometimes it definitely feels easier just to stop at McDonald’s on the way home, order pizza or make a grilled cheese with a side of potato chips. Having a planned meal in place discourages both impulsive eating and impulsive cooking.

How Meal Planning Saves you Money

Think about how you behave when you go to the grocery store; do you wander up and down the aisles basing your purchasing decisions on what looks good? If yes, that can be bad for your health and your wallet.

Planning meals means you have to put a list on paper or on your phone, which makes grocery shopping more efficient. Also, having the right groceries at home and a meal planned out means you are less likely to stop on your way home for fast food that is neither healthy nor budget-friendly.

Added Bonuses of Meal Planning

Let’s not forget two additional things that come with meal planning: convenience and cooking experience. Convenience means no more waffling over what you’re going to make, and if you’re able to prepare any meals in advance so that you can simply reheat and eat, that’s doubly convenient.

Whether you’re an expert cook or you struggle with burning toast, forcing yourself to plan and cook meals can expand your cooking skills and add new dishes to your repertoire.  So, take a look at what you’re eating and what it’s costing you. If you find you could improve both, give meal planning a try!

Lincoln Savings Bank. Member FDIC

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