Diet planning involves a set of strategies for creating meals that fit your individual dietary needs and goals. Many diet plans address specific health conditions such as high cholesterol or stomach illnesses.
Some meal planners also establish specific days of the week for different foods or meals to make the planning process easier. Some examples include Meatless Mondays and Whole Grain Wednesdays.
Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time
It takes a bit of effort at the outset, but meal planning can save time, money and stress over the long run. It also helps ensure that you’re following your nutrition goals and meeting your health needs.
People use meal plans for all sorts of reasons, from managing a health condition like diabetes to sticking to a budget to making sure they’re eating a variety of foods, says dietitian Stacey Simon. She recommends choosing recipes that include lean protein, healthy fats and lots of fruits and vegetables.
To make meal planning easier, select one day each week to plan the meals (you can use an app or a calendar), food shop and do meal prep. This will help you avoid forgetting a key ingredient or buying more than you need.
Store Your Food Properly
Proper food storage helps you to save money by extending the life of your foods. It also prevents harmful bacteria from growing in your refrigerator, which could make the foods unpalatable and potentially a bacterial health hazard. Signs that you should watch out for include rancid fats, slime on meat and yeast growth in fruit juices. Some foods, such as canned goods and dry food items, can last up to a year if they are properly stored away from sunlight and humidity.
Buy Seasonal Produce
Buying seasonal fruits and vegetables has many benefits. It is fresher and tastier than food that has been shipped long distances, and it decreases packaging waste and greenhouse gases. It also helps support local farmers, encourages the use of farmland for more than one crop per year, and keeps money in the community.
Plus, when food is in season, it’s usually cheaper than out-of-season produce because transportation costs add to the price. It might be difficult to stick with this practice if you’re used to shopping at grocery stores where most produce is available all year round, but it will make a big difference in flavor and health. Plus, you can always freeze or preserve in-season fruits and vegetables to eat later. Having variety in your diet also increases the number of nutrients you consume.
Plan Your Meals Around Grocery Store Sales
When you’re meal planning, look at the grocery store’s sales ad to see what foods are on sale and then choose meals that incorporate those items. This will help you save money and avoid food waste.
Be sure to also check the freezer and pantry before shopping, as you may already have some of the ingredients you need in storage. Staples like canned tuna, canned beans, tofu and peanut butter are great protein options that you can keep on hand at all times.
Americans tend to overspend the most in the area of food, so learning to plan your meals ahead of time will help you save money and eat healthier at the same time. Download our free meal planning worksheet to get started.
Choose Cheap Protein Sources
Protein is a key nutrient that can aid in weight loss, muscle growth and overall health. However, it can also be quite expensive. This can be a problem for those who are on a tight budget. Fortunately, there are many cheap protein sources that can be easily added to your diet.
Eggs are a great example. While they may not be as affordable as they once were, they still provide a healthy dose of protein for under $0.30 per egg.
Other good protein options include chicken, cottage cheese, lentils and milk. Look for these foods in the grocery store sale section or at warehouse stores like Costco to find the best deals. You can also save money by buying in bulk. For instance, a pack of four large turkey breasts will cost less than one small cut of beef.Kostplanering