5 Empowering Results To Expect When You Start Meal Planning
When we’re looking to create a new healthy habit (or get consistent with one that shows up only once a week right now) most of us are truly seeking one or more of the following results:
A change to our body, energy, and/or mood
Less stress on a daily basis
Improved productivity and mental clarity
Feeling in control of our appetite
Taking away the anxiety of an on-again-off-again relationship with our health routine
Ditching any unwanted habits along the way
The consistency that feels effortless and leads to overall self-confidence
Before we dive into how weekly meal planning checks all these boxes, I have a very important message.
Your healthy habit journey will not be and should not be “perfect”. If you’re looking at the list above with a view of “Yeah! I need to lose weight. I need that body change.” Or “Yep, I definitely eat too much, appetite control sounds like the discipline I need!”
I want you to take a big step back and hear me. That is our societal conditioning talking, not your body. You are beautiful. You are amazing. And you are always doing the best you can at every given moment.
Stepping into self-care and nourishment is a wonderful accomplishment and, yes, it takes work. But it shouldn’t feel like a punishment for the body you have now. Remember the reasons outside of a certain weight goal that you are looking to form new habits.
If your meal planning routine becomes “diet-like” and is founded on restriction, guilt, fear of food, and over-obsession with “getting it right”, you will ultimately fail. You will miss the various other benefits meal planning has to offer, and you will likely not stick with it.
Can meal planning be part of your routine that helps your body find balance? Absolutely! And, the more we can celebrate our consistency and non-weight accomplishments, the happier we will be.
So, rant over. Let’s take a look at these five empowering results you might experience from meal planning.
Meal planning is taking time weekly to brainstorm, shop for, and often prepare meals for the week or part of the week, in order to save time, money, and sanity in your busy lifestyle.
1. Save money
Whether you’re a master-budgeter at the store, or a convenience over cost shopper, I think if any of us were told that we would save over $1,000 a year by doing a little planning ahead (which is an actual statistic btw), we’d say “Show me how!”
Not only that, but one of the first steps of weekly meal planning – simply making a grocery list – helps us spend 40% less at the store than when we go without a list.
Then you can buy yourself something fun as a “go me!” reward for sticking with your meal planning routine each month.
2. Kitchen confidence
Ok, for those of you who are thinking that meal planning and fancy recipes will just never be your thing because you burnt oatmeal last week… take a deep breath. If the kitchen is NOT your comfort zone, that’s ok.
Start really simple. Your meal planning for the week can be a baby step to get you started. This might look like simply cutting up raw veggies for grab-and-go snacks, portioning out your crackers and mixed nuts in individual containers for convenience, or making simple recipes like salads or sheet pan recipes where you throw everything on one pan in the oven.
Before you know it, you’ll have a slew of go-to recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner! You’ll find yourself putting your own spices on things, mixing up the ingredients slightly, and even experimenting with your own creations!
The biggest benefit of kitchen confidence beginning to kick in is that it motivates us to keep going. It makes us want to share with others, which always feels good. And it calms the overwhelm and sparks that effortlessness and ease that we’ve been seeking.
3. Appetite balance
Ok, Tess, I thought this post was NOT about dieting!
You’re right, so let me explain the non-weight benefits of feeling like our appetite is balanced, and doesn’t have control over us.
So often as the busy go-getters that we are, we might find we skip meals, eat really fast, stress eat, didn’t make time to plan ahead so we grab something convenient and possibly not too healthy, or wind down from a crazy day with a huge meal and 3 glasses of wine.
If one or more of these is happening on a regular basis, it’s almost certain that our appetite is out of whack. Our body might be going in and out of starvation mode, which can affect our blood sugar, weight, hormones, and energy.
Irregular meal timing can make us crave unhealthy foods more often, it can impact our sleep quality, and it can fog our brain clarity.
While we are all unique physiologically, the body’s metabolism is on a similar daily trajectory for each of us. In the morning, metabolism revs up and loves to be nourished to get the day started with energy. Midday, our energy peaks and it’s a great time to have our biggest meal of the day. From evening into the night, metabolism slows down as the body prepares to rejuvenate, detox, and repair itself.
By planning our meals ahead of time, and even having 3-4 days of grab-and-go breakfasts and/or lunches at the ready, we’re so much less likely to skip meals or go for an unhealthy option, therefore avoiding the pitfalls of being unprepared.
4. Midweek peace of mind
Isn’t it interesting how even if we work on the weekends, there is still something about that Monday through Friday energy that feels like grind time? So let’s work WITH that!
What I mean is, think of Wednesday. This is a day that it might become a little more difficult to still get up and go to the gym. Our decision-making capacity has already been at work thousands of times each day, and our mind is ready for a break.
Now, imagine you finish working on Wednesday evening, and the ever-annoying question pops in your head… “Ugh, what am I going to eat for dinner?” You don’t have anything in the fridge. You want to cook but you don’t know what. So you go to the store and get some chicken, veggies, and potatoes. But when you get home you realize you don’t have any cooking oil and you’re out of salt.
So you have to go back to the store, grumpy as all get out. You don’t get back home until after 8pm and you frustratingly make a late dinner (while eating your Twix you got the second time back to the store because starving) and pretty soon it feels like there is no wind-down time and the next day is practically here.
On the flip side, what if you had planned on Sunday to make enough chicken and veggies for at least 3 dinners that week? And you got to simply reheat, Netflix, and chill on a Wednesday night?
Not only is this benefit of a mind at ease available mid-week when things tend to be most stressful, it’s available throughout the entire week just by planning a little bit ahead of time.
5. Uplifted mood
Being creative has been proven to boost our mood. When we prepare our own meal, and get in the zone of planning out a balanced week of food, that’s us in our creativity!
Some people express that cooking is indeed a stress reliever for them, almost like painting, listening to music, or journaling.
The mood-boosting from meal planning also goes back to what I mentioned in number 3, appetite balance. When we skip meals, we get hangry. The imbalance of meal timing and portion can also lead to feelings of depression, irritability, brain fog and sleepiness.
Use this as a simple experiment within the next week. Take notice of when your mood is feeling low, and then check in to see what the last thing you ate was, and when. If it was a while ago and not very healthy or not very much, try grabbing a piece of whole fruit, a hard boiled egg, and/or a string cheese and crackers. Within a few minutes, you might find yourself getting a second wind!
As with any health changes, it’s super important to consult your medical doctor before making changes. No suggestions here are meant to be nutritional advice, as I believe we are ALL unique in what our body needs, and it’s important to take that into consideration when choosing our food.
Remember, start simple, and build from there. Celebrate your progress, not perfection. And continue checking in with yourself to make sure you still feel balanced and in moderation with your food choices, not in restrictive guilty diet-mode ;)
Which of these results is most appealing to you? I’d love to hear!