by Grenada Food and Nutrition Council
Planning and preparing meals 2 to 3 days, or even a week in advance can make a significant difference in cultivating a healthier diet and managing your overall health and wellbeing, and it can also help in saving money.
Planning meals can also be an instrumental practice that will help you to have more control over what you eat, your portion sizes, when you eat and helps you to consume more home-cooked meals, which are always a better option to fast foods.
According to EverydayHealth.com, research has shown that meal planning can help people to live longer because eating foods that are not prepared at home increases your risk of death by several factors such as food poisoning, exposure to processed and chemical-infused foods, foods high in fats and sugar, and chronic diseases. Meal planning also helps to eliminate impulse eating and can improve your emotional wellness as it reduces the burden and anxiety of deciding what to eat during a busy day or after a long day. A nutritionist or dietitian can help to construct a meal plan or meal guide specifically tailored to your needs which can make a huge impact on your life.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that choosing healthier ingredients while meal prepping will make a difference in the quality of foods being prepared. The CDC states using low-fat cheese and low-fat milk, low-sodium soup packs are a great option. Additionally, choosing leaner cuts of meat or skinless turkey or chicken breast and draining excess fat while the meat being is cooked is beneficial. Use more fresh and frozen vegetables in meals and try using a non-stick cooking spray or a small amount of cooking oil for sautéing instead of a solid fat. When adding snacks to the meal plan, go for healthier options such as low-fat and fat-free yoghurt, Whole-grain crackers, nuts and seeds, and fruits like golden apples, oranges, bananas, and carrots and cucumber. If dining out, review the restaurant’s menus beforehand to see the healthier options and make a smart decision.
When meal prepping, remember your portion sizes; fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, one quarter with proteins such as meats and beans, and the last quarter with carbs such as ground provision, brown rice, or pasta. This will help to alleviate food wastage and control how much you eat.
When constructing a meal plan remember to include some of your favourite foods, and give yourself time—don’t rush. Read food labels and choose healthier produce. Use fresh foods compared to processed foods and cook in bulk to reduce hassle.