meal planning

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Meal planning can be a tool that moves you in the direction of wellness. Farmer’s Market guru and real food advocate, Nina Planck, reminds us that we should “eat freely, for health and pleasure.” It’s possible to do both.

Eating freely and with pleasure calls for us to make conscious food choices. To navigate our perplexing food culture, it helps to have a blueprint. And a meal plan serves as that blueprint.

Preparation

Planning your meals is the cornerstone of cultivating healthy eating. It forces you to make decisions about what you will eat and take specific steps toward making that happen, like a shopping list and recipes.

Move From Meal Planning Paralysis to Meal Planning Action

I recently learned about the term “errand paralysis,” which defines those mundane tasks that are a high-effort but low reward. For the record, I tend to ignore those tedious tasks on a “to-do list” like mailing a package, pick up two avocados at the grocery store, and drop off dry cleaning.

Similar to errand paralysis, “meal planning paralysis” is a manifestation of the same condition. We tend to avoid the job of meal planning because it lacks immediate gratification and results.

Also, meal planning is the shoulder devil that reminds us of our responsibility for physical custodianship. And let’s be honest, we don’t want the reminder.

Maybe you are waiting for meal planning inspiration to cross your path or screen. But binge-watching cooking shows on the Food Network won’t improve your health or get you cooking.

Michael Pollan writes that “the path to a diet of fresher, unprocessed food, not to mention a revitalized local-food economy, passes straight through the home kitchen.”

We have to harness the motivation to work through the paralysis and distractions so that we can get down to the tasks at hand — planning, and cooking.

Why You Need to Move Into Meal Planning Action

So maybe you are ready to kick meal planning paralysis to the curb, but you still need to know why the whole meal planning thing is so important.

Eliminates stress

Avoid the stress and the cost of last-minute meals by carving out some time to either design a meal plan or follow an existing one. You could take meal planning off your plate (pun intended) and outsource the task. Then, do so guilt-free.

I designed a 21-Day Healthy Eating Meal Plan as a resource to get you started on your journey.

meal planning

Saves Money

Without a plan, you may find yourself driving in circles at the supermarket parking lot just so that you can conjure up that night’s dinner menu.

Really? Is that what you want to do after a long day?

The moment you cross the threshold of the grocery store, you’re done. The pre-fab meals will bewitch you.

Establishes healthy eating habits

Science validates that meal planning improves the quality of our diet, rather than zipping through the drive-thru or ordering Uber Eats.

Cooking at home and using a meal plan that consists of wholesome ingredients allows you to control what goes into your food. Food prepared outside of your kitchen is most likely processed.

Processing removes nutrients and then adds chemicals to food. It’s still too early to tell what some of the chemicals do to the body, so it’s best just to avoid them altogether.

In her book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which is part memoir and part investigative journalism, Barbara Kingsolver reminds us that “cooking is the great divide between good eating and bad.”

Obesity affects 93.3 million adults in the U.S., and even more sobering is that lifestyle choices cause forty-percent of premature deaths in Americans.

You are more likely to manage portion size when you fill your plate at home.

meal planning

Ella Olsson- Usplash

Serves as a Tool to Exercise Physical Custodianship

Food plays a significant role in our well-being. We are responsible for our health and wellness. It’s not the responsibility of a doctor, a multi-level marketing food supplement company (MLM), or a fitness trainer.

Writer and speaker, Bethany Jenkins points out in her article Watching What We Eat that “God cares about how we treat our physical bodies.” Entrusted by God, we are the custodians of our bodies.

Many of us have gotten trapped in the snare of faulty thinking that we own our bodies to do with what we want.

A meal plan evokes small, incremental changes that lead to long-term changes in eating habits and food choices. An eating strategy built on real food recipes and snacks changes your perspective on food and catapults you into a new lifestyle.

 

Cultivate awareness about food

I recently wrote an article about the ripple in the food supply during COVID-19. Before the pandemic, most shoppers cruised the aisles of grocery stores without giving much thought to where their food came from or the farming practices that went into growing their food.

My son raises beef on our farm, and since COVID-19, he has a six-month-long waiting list for his product. Why?

Staring at empty freezer cases in the grocery store compels us to consider how far food travels until it ends up in our grocery cart. It provokes us to grow our food or buy it directly from a farmer.

Cooking at home fosters awareness about the ingredients used in recipes. And ask questions like:

“Does this condiment contain synthetic ingredients?”

“Is this GMO corn?”

meal planning

Expands your culinary skills

A meal plan pushes you into the kitchen and gets you cooking. It’s comforting to know that making mistakes is all a part of the experience.

It reminds me of when the late Master Chef Julia Childs flipped potato pancakes in the air and then watched them fall and splatter.

After picking up the pieces of the splattered potato pancakes, Julie reminded her television viewers, “The only way you learn to flip things is to flip them.”

Meal planning empowers you with the tools to cook. And the self-deprecation to smirk and blush when you drop an egg.

Start planning meals for one week, then move on from there.


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4 Comments

  1. Ava James on May 20, 2020 at 2:26 pm
    I love your statement about the only way to flip things is flip them! I will be applying that to lots of stuff going forward. And your meal planning thoughts are great. I certainly have become loads better at organising the fridge and meals for the week in this Covid19 crisis. Thanks Denise!
    • Denise Sultenfuss on May 21, 2020 at 9:56 am
      Ah, yes, COVID-19 has plunged all of into meal planning and cooking mode, which is really not a bad path to head down. I guess there are positive aspects of the shelter-at-home mandate, right? Thanks for stopping by the blog for a visit and a chat. Warmly, Denise
  2. Mihaela Echols on May 20, 2020 at 2:49 pm
    Yeah! Once you start meal planning your find yourself and family eating so much better and saving money.
    • Denise Sultenfuss on May 21, 2020 at 9:54 am
      Hi Mihaela, thanks for stopping by today. Indeed, meal planning saves time and money, plus the health benefits of using an eating plan that consists of wholesome recipes really make it all worth it.

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