One of the easiest ways to stray from your diet is to not plan out what you’re going to eat the next day. When you’re really hungry, it’s easy to head for the nearest drive thru or grab a box of macaroni and cheese out of the pantry.
Preparing meals in advance does require some time and thought but the health benefits are worth it. During National Nutrition Month®, celebrated every March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to “Go Further with Food” by preparing meals in advance to enjoy throughout the week.
The first step is to choose a day to prepare your food. A lot of people do their meal planning on the weekend when they have time to shop and cook. Next, figure out which recipes you want to use to create a grocery list. Try to choose meals with ingredients you already have at home to make the most out of your food.
“Preparing several meals on the weekends can provide balanced meals that can easily be reheated throughout the week,” said Kristen Smith, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in a news release. “It’s also a great way to eat healthfully, save time during the week and reduce food waste.”
When you cook in bulk, you save money because you can create several portions and freeze meals for later, said Smith, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. You can save food by only reheating a single meal at a time, versus an entire dish, which may go to waste. Just make sure you reheat your food to a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Create a meal prep plan that includes a variety of your favorite, healthful foods,” Smith said.
Of course, the best person to ask for advice is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in giving proper nutrition advice to meets an individual’s specific health needs. You can learn more about healthy eating through our weight-loss programs at Bon Secours Weight Loss Institute.