How Healthy Meal Plans Help Smash Your Fitness Goals
No one would ever turn down a tasty, home-cooked meal, but few of us have the time, skill, or patience to prepare one. The one thing that can make it easier is meal planning. Taking 30 minutes out of your day to plan your grocery list could set you up for success during the week.
Although preparing your list in advance will improve your overall health, there are several other reasons why meal plans can help you reach your fitness goals, including the following.
Top 5 Benefits of Home Cooked Meal Planning
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1. Home Cooked Meal Plans are Healthier
Home-cooked meals are associated with better diet quality and weight loss. When you decide to stay in, you’re typically eating fewer calories than you would at a restaurant. On top of that, the ingredients you use at home tend to have more veggies, fiber, and less sugar or saturated fat.
Overall diet quality actually decreases according to the number of times you eat out. However, if you regularly prepare meals at home, you’ll lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Simply put, cooking meals at home makes it easier for you to stay healthy.
2. Home Cooked Meal Plans are Cheaper
High-quality, healthy restaurant food is often expensive, which is why we usually eat fast food when we don’t want to cook. On average, it costs 5 times more to order a dish from a restaurant than you could have made at home. Meal kits cost half the amount you’d pay in a restaurant.
When you add up month to month, the savings start to become substantial. With all that extra money, you can eat healthier for longer and even purchase a gym membership or treadmill.
3. Meal Plans Offer Variety
Humans are creatures of habit. We prefer to eat at the same restaurant and eat the same foods that we always eat. However, meal planning can increase food variety, which is essential to a healthy diet. You need several food types to increase your chance of absorbing your nutrients.
What’s more, meal planning allows you to avoid food allergens and experiment with ingredients you never thought to try. You also gain access to local, farmed, or specialty produce.
4. Meal Plans Reduce Decision Fatigue
It’s frustrating to constantly have that nagging voice at the back of your head asking you, “what’s for dinner?” Eating can sometimes feel like a chore, especially when you’re trying to meet your fitness goals. If you cook for the family, you’ll have other nagging voices to contend with.
Creating a meal plan can reduce the amount of stress you feel when coming up with breakfast, lunch, and dinner day in and day out because you already know what to cook each day.
5. Meal Plans Decrease Food Waste
Deciding to eat healthier is a lot easier to do than actually committing to it. Without proper planning, you’re more likely to buy food you won’t eat. Half the time, you may even purchase ingredients you don’t even like, but you’re hoping you’ll change your mind. Except, you don’t.
Meal plans reduce your overall grocery runs and food-related outings, which gives you more time to go to the gym. When you create a grocery list, you’re less likely to buy things on a whim or forget needed ingredients. All of this planning leads to less food waste and fast food trips.