Healthy eating can be hard to stay on top of at the best of times, let alone when you are a busy professional who barely has the time or energy to think of a nutritious and filling meal to have, let alone cook one up from scratch.
Everyone deserves to enjoy healthy and delicious food and should not miss out on this just because they have a demanding work schedule and/or busy lifestyle. Thankfully, there is an effective solution. Meal planning.
Meal planning is a great way to ensure that you have healthy and hearty meals to take with you to work, turning your boring everyday lunch break into a luxurious dining experience. Keep reading to learn the benefits of meal planning and how to effectively create your own.
Meal planning can be beneficial in a number of ways, especially when you’re doing so to upkeep consistent and healthy eating habits. On top of that, it can be an effective way to make sure that you are eating a substantial meal each day you’re at work, elevating your office dining experience from basic sandwiches.
Here are 5 of the best benefits to meal planning.
- Save Money: By planning your meals in advance, you are less likely to make spontaneous purchases by forgetting or not having time to make lunch at home, which forces you to go out and buy lunch when you’re at work. It also reduces your risk of impulse buying groceries, as you will have carefully considered which ingredients you will need for your meals - or you can buy meal boxes, which will have everything you need in one.
- Save Time: Though you may think that meal planning would actually consume more of your time, it is much more efficient than having to make lunch every morning or evening (for the next day). Prepping your meals in one batch and freezing them or keeping them in the fridge (depending on what you have made and how long it will last) means they will be ready to take to work with you each day, without eating into your limited morning time or evening plans.
- Portion Control: Preparing your meals in advance will allow you to control your portion sizes, meaning you can ensure that you will have a substantial enough meal to fill you up using healthy ingredients. Furthermore, by being consciously aware of your portion sizes, you will often be able to get multiple portions out of one meal.
- Reduce Food Waste: Many people end up wasting the food they buy in their weekly grocery shop, as they tend to impulse buy and are left with foods and/or ingredients that they don’t need and will likely not consume before its use-by date. Meal planning avoids this, as it encourages you to only buy the foods and ingredients that you need and know you will use, as well as making it more likely you will stick to your plan instead of making something else.
- Nutritious Variety: Since meal planning allows you the time to actively and carefully think about what meals and snacks you wish to take with you for lunch (or have for breakfasts and dinners), you can research and plan to make meals that are not only healthy, but different to the habitual meals you are used to cooking.
If you want to create your own effective meal plan, follow these simple yet helpful steps:
The first step is to create a weekly calendar with boxes for each meal occasion (i.e. breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner) that you wish to plan for. For example, if you religiously eat weetabix for breakfast every morning, then you may not need to include a ‘breakfast’ box, whilst the others will still be helpful.
Brainstorm a list of meals, snacks and recipes that you would like to eat and would be willing to make. This is a great opportunity to find new recipes you’ve not tried before as well as to focus on how your meal choices can be delicious yet health conscious. After deciding the meals you are going to make, you will then need to create a list of the ingredients that you will need to make them.
If you’re planning on meal prepping healthy lunches for work and find that you still don’t have the time to batch cook each of these, then a great alternative is to buy meal boxes. You can still plan healthy meals to take to the office with you, whilst cutting your prep time massively, since they only require heating up rather than needing to be made from scratch.
Once you’ve decided your list of meals, note down on your weekly calendar which meals you plan to eat each day. It could be that you want to have the same meal on the same day each week (e.g. always have the same lunches on Mondays, the same dinners on Tuesdays etc.) or you may wish to mix it up a bit and rotate which days you have which meals each week.
If you’ve never done meal planning before, it can still be a daunting process that seems like a) a lot of effort and b) a lot of food. Here are some of our top tips to make it even easier for first timers or those whose time is especially limited.
Firstly, your freezer is your friend, not your foe. Freezers are there to preserve food that you do not want to be wasted, keeping them safe and fresh to eat for when you are ready to eat them. This is not to say that you don’t have to use fresh ingredients - you are still able to make your meals using fresh, organic and high-quality ingredients, the freezer is simply there for you to store your meals once they have been prepared and cooked in order to retain this freshness.
This means that you can store a whole week’s worth or more of meals ready for you to simply defrost (other than those that will last in the fridge for the first few days) and take to work with you, it will just need reheating before you eat it.
Freezing your meals also ensures that you use all your ingredients, since it is likely that the recipes you cook will make at least two portions, allowing you to save one to have again on another day.
Another tip is to plan different meals that use similar base ingredients. For example, you could buy potatoes to use as mash with a cottage pie on one day, then use them again on another to have as a side of new potatoes, to give a simple example. This reduces your need to buy too many different ingredients and makes the prospect of cooking so many different meals seem less daunting, thus making it more likely that you will stick to your plan.
Ready Made Meals
Lastly, as we’ve previously mentioned, meal boxes are also a way to make your meal planning easier. This saves you the hassle and time of having to think up different meal ideas yourself; instead, you can browse the ready made meals online, which also gives you a visual indicator on what the meals will look like.
By buying your meal boxes from us, you can also rest assured that you will be consuming nutritious food that is in keeping with your healthy lifestyle, since we prepare all our meals with fresh and beneficial ingredients.
This will also save you time on cooking, which is one of the reasons many people fail to stick to their meal plan. Since you don’t need to cook the meal from scratch, you will be more incentivised to keep to your plan as it’s both delicious and convenient!
If you’re looking for healthy, ready made meals that are easy to prepare, we are the experts in high-quality, nutritious meals that you need.
All of our meals are prepared using fresh, high-quality and ethically sourced ingredients that are key to supporting a nutritious, balanced diet. We cater to all dietary requirements, including vegans, with most of our meals being predominantly gluten and dairy free.
So, whether you’re after ready-prepped meals to take with you to work for your lunch break, or luxurious a la carte prepped dishes for dinners with friends, we guarantee we’ll have the ideal meal for you.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about the meals we offer and what goes into them.