Every home workout plan, nutrition guru, and dieting channel on social media seems to revolve around one basic concept: meal planning. The reason this appears to be the common denominator is that meal planning is critical to the success of a diet routine.
If you’re new to meal planning, here are a few things you should know before incorporating it into your routine for yourself or you and your family.
How To Make Meal Planning Easier: Tips For Success
Begin By Making A Master Food List
The first step in meal planning is to create a master food list. You can find these online and print them by season, or you can make your own list. Ideally, you’re narrowing down the foods you like, foods you don’t like, foods you’re allergic to, and foods you’ve never tried.
This master list will assist you in narrowing down your recipes and selecting foods for your meal planning that are suitable for you. You can also record how many calories each item contains and how they can be used.
Consider Your Objective
When planning your meals, keep your goals in mind. For example, you might be looking for a way to relieve stress during the week. Meal planning may provide you with more downtime and time to spend with your family.
On the other hand, you might want to lose a few pounds. If this is the case, you should keep a close eye on your caloric intake. Bodybuilding goals require even more considerations in order to be met. Before you begin meal planning, think about your long-term, short-term, and overall goals.
Think About Your Containers
Many people overlook the importance of the containers they will use when meal planning. This can have a significant impact on how you plan your meals. Most people use containers with multiple compartments for protein, vegetables, fruits, and sauces.
These are ideal if you will primarily be doing full meals. You could also use bento boxes, soup containers, or other containers. Consider what kinds of meals you want to eat and then make sure you have the appropriate containers.
Check to see if your containers are ready to go. You’ll want to prepare all of your meals at once and have everything ready to go in the fridge. You should also ensure that the containers are prepared for all of the meals you are preparing.
This ensures that you have everything you need for breakfast, lunch, and dinner preparation and that you aren’t halfway through when you realize you’ve forgotten something.
You should also label each container with the food type, any special instructions, and the serving time, such as breakfast or dinner.
Meal planning fundamentals include taking into account your timeframe. You must ensure that you plan for a specific number of days. Most people plan their meals weekly, but larger families may plan their meals for the entire month.
The timeframe, along with the food lists and goals, can have a significant impact on your budget, so it is critical to consider a timeframe.
These basic meal planning principles can help you get started. Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all method for meal planning. The idea is to work with the diet of your choice, plan the meals, and ensure that they work for you and your lifestyle.
It may take some time to get things going, but once they do, you will find meal planning to be a much easier route on many levels.
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Make A Day Of It
Setting aside a day for meal prep and cooking is the key to making meal prepping work before you even begin. You may believe that prepping should not take long and that you can prepare the next day’s food the night before.
The truth is that it can become very stressful over time, causing you to forget something or simply not want to do it. Also, keep in mind that life can get in the way at times.
Choosing one day, or afternoon, a week will help you get through the week of prep and avoid missing anything or becoming overly stressed.
Cooking At Similar Temperatures
Cooking foods of similar temperatures together is one way to expedite the process and ensure that everything is properly cooked. For instance, if you bake chicken for twenty minutes at 375 degrees, you can also bake potatoes for an hour and a half at the same temperature.
The key is to set a timer to ensure that you remove the foods at the appropriate time. Because you’ll be running the oven for less time while cooking the same amount of food, you’ll save money on energy.
How To Make Meal Planning Easier For Weight Loss
One of the most common reasons for meal planning and meal preparation is weight loss. Before you dive into meal planning, convinced that you’re making the right choices and doing the right prep, there are a few things you should think about.
These considerations will ensure that you are making the right meal preps for your diet, exercise, and, most importantly, your short and long-term weight loss goals.
Consider Your Calorie Requirements
The first step in meal planning for weight loss is to figure out how many calories you’ll need per day. There is a common misconception about this that is directly related to your current weight and what you want to weigh.
For example, if you weigh 250 pounds, you may come across a chart indicating that you require 2,000 or more calories per day. You should keep in mind that the number given is for maintaining your current weight, not for gaining or losing weight.
If you want to lose weight, you must reduce your caloric intake on a daily basis. Once you’ve reached your goal, you’ll continue to consume the same number of calories in order to maintain your weight, as recommended by health charts or your doctor.
Consider the Workout Duration
Consider your workout amount when developing a good meal prep and meal planning routine for weight loss. This is critical, and it goes hand in hand with caloric intake.
For instance, you might want to reduce your caloric intake and combine it with exercise that burns calories to provide you with the calories you need to function and achieve your workout-specific goals.
If you want to burn 300 or more calories per day, you might consider running or another activity that fits that plan. If you do this, you will need to modify your meal plan to accommodate that type of workout, which will include carbs and protein.
Consider the Meals You Have Planned
Now that you know how many calories you’ll be consuming and what kind of workouts you’ll be doing to burn them off, it’s time to think about the meals.
Your meals should complement your lifestyle and weight loss objectives. They should also be compatible with your daily routine.
If you are constantly on the go, you may prefer smoothies and quick fix protein food packs to three full meals per day.
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The Advantages of Meal Planning
Meal planning is something you may be familiar with and may even be doing on a rudimentary level. The problem with meal planning is that you may not be aware of how it benefits you outside of your regular workout or exercise routine.
Calorie Counting Made Simple
The ability to monitor your caloric intake is one of the most significant health benefits of meal planning. Monitoring this can be beneficial in a variety of ways. For instance, if you’re trying to lose a lot of weight, you’ll want to make sure your calories are lower than what you need for your current weight.
For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, your daily caloric intake may be around 2,000 calories. If you want to stay at that weight, you can eat whatever you want. If you want to lose weight, you should limit your caloric intake to 1,500 calories or less.
Meal planning will help you easily stay on track with this!
Stress Levels Reduced
You can reduce your stress by managing meal planning and sticking to it. You no longer have to be concerned about missing a meal, not having meals ready, or forgetting to put meals out to thaw.
Though this may not appear to be a major source of stress, it can have a domino effect. If you’re having a bad day, you don’t add the time constraints and stress of meal planning to it.
This minor stress reduction can benefit your overall stress levels and provide you with more downtime in the evenings after a long day.
Reduced Probability of Missing Your Goals
When you don’t have any meals planned, you can just grab whatever is available. If you’ve had a long day and don’t feel like cooking, you could order pizza or something quick. If you eat a salad, you might think you’re doing well.
The truth is that a fast food salad can have a lot of calories that you aren’t aware of. This can derail you from your goals, increase your calorie intake, and appear to be an easier option over time, causing you to completely abandon your diet.
Meal planning eliminates all of this.
Preservatives have been reduced
One health benefit you may not have considered is the reduction in preservatives your body would be exposed to. Many store-bought prepared meals, for example, contain high levels of sodium or sugar.
When you prepare the food at home, you can significantly reduce this amount, making your meal plan a healthier alternative to store-bought convenience foods.
Other health benefits exist, but these are the ones you are most likely to notice in your life. Remember, if you want additional or different health benefits, you should consider changing your meal planning to accommodate those health benefit goals in your daily life and long-term health goals.
Things To Consider Before Meal Planning
Meal preparation and planning entails more than simply cooking and storing meals in a container. Before you start cooking, there are a few things you should do to get started with meal preparation.
These fundamentals will help you stick to a meal plan and budget before you go shopping. Here are a few of the fundamentals to remember.
By ensuring that you understand the fundamentals of meal preparation in relation to your weight loss goals, you can ensure that you are making the right choices.
Keep in mind that you may need to make minor adjustments to accommodate any special medical history or issues you may have, or to meet any goal changes that may arise.
What To Do With Leftovers
When it comes to healthy meal planning, you’ll probably want to store some of the prepared ingredients and dishes in the fridge and freezer.
It’s also a good idea to save some leftovers for future meals, especially if you don’t want to do any more cooking. In both cases, you’ll need to know how long leftovers last so you can keep your family safe while eating these prepared dishes.
Food Storage Suggestions
Before you begin, it is critical that you understand some of the rules for storing foods and prepared meals. To begin, you should store meat in containers or freezer bags rather than the original package it came in.
This ensures that they are airtight and prevents freezer burn. Also, keep in mind that any food you prepare must be cooled before it can be stored.
Never try to store or freeze leftovers or a warm meal. Also, label everything with the date it was put in and the used by date so you know when it needs to be thrown away.
Food that has already been prepared and stored in the refrigerator as leftovers must be consumed before the four-day period expires. This is when it is kept in a lidded container or an airtight freezer bag.
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Food That Should Not Be Frozen
Salad can be frozen, but it does not freeze well. It is prone to freezer burn and will not taste good when removed. This is especially true for salad greens and prepared salads. Only keep these in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Other salads, such as macaroni, potato, and tuna salad, do not freeze well either. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days if the temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
Temperatures in the Fridge and Freezer
Now, let’s look at the times for various other foods in the fridge or freezer. In general, refrigerator leftovers, including prepared dishes, should not be eaten after 4 days.
Cooked meat in the freezer, on the other hand, can last between 3 and 6 months if stored properly. The freezing time for fresh meat and seafood varies depending on the type.
Bacon and sausage can be frozen for up to two months, while poultry can be kept fresh for up to a year. Luncheon meat should not be stored in the freezer for more than 1-2 months.
Meal planning is an excellent way to meet your calorie goals and lose weight. Not only does meal planning help you avoid food temptation, you don’t have to think about your meals and cooking beforehand.
But many people are intimidated by the meal planning process. Don’t be afraid to give meal planning and preparation a try. Follow this handy guide above to assist you in remembering helpful tips about how to make meal planning easier!`