Jan. 23, 2019

Meal Planning For Your Best Health

President's Blog
Margaret Hudson
President, Burnbrae Farms
4th Generation Farmer

My weeknight dinners run smoothly when I have a plan in place. So, on Sunday nights, I take a few minutes to sit down and plan out what we’ll eat during the upcoming weeknights. I get input from my family to see if there’s something their craving, and we sync calendars to see how many people will be home for dinner each night.

Once I have an idea of the upcoming meals, I find it much easier to create a grocery list. When I get home after a busy workday, it’s nice to have dinner items already in my fridge and pantry. When possible, it makes prepping and cooking dinner so much simpler.

How Do I Meal Plan?

For me, a meal planning template is key. You can use a piece of paper, a spreadsheet or an app such as Mealime or MealPlanner – whichever is most convenient to you. You can also take a look at The Heart & Stroke Foundation’s Meal-Planning Tool Kit . I like using anything that saves the weekly meal plan, so I can use it again a few weeks later. The truth is, most people only rotate between a handful of dinner recipes, so it’s nice to have the option of using the same meal plan every few weeks.

- When you are planning your meal template, consider the following:

- What each person likes to eat: Pick recipes to match taste buds.

- How many people will be eating: Choose recipes that serve the right number of people.

- How much time you have for meal prep: Don’t choose a recipe that takes 45 minute if you only have 20 minutes to cook.

- What you will do with leftovers: Maybe you can cook once and eat twice?

- What your 10-minute meal back-up will be in case the plan goes awry: Despite best efforts, sometimes an ingredient goes bad, or you run into traffic and have less time to cook. Have a back-up plan in place.

- What you will need to shop for: Make a grocery list based on the meals you will cook.

The Advantages of Meal Planning

There are some obvious wins when meal planning. It allows the household to be more organized, and ensures you have the right groceries on hand to prepare the meals you desire. This helps save time, as you don’t need to run to the grocery store for last-minute ingredients, or make rapid decisions about what to eat.     Planning nutritious meals has also been linked to an improved quality of the overall diet. A recent cross-sectional study of over 40,000 participants took a closer look at the association between meal planning and diet quality, as well as weight status. It found that the participants who planned meals in advance were more likely to eat a healthier diet with a wider variety of foods; and had less chance of being obese.

Of course, a cross-sectional study doesn’t show cause and effect, but there is certainly an association between meal planning and obesity prevention. Maybe it’s because planning meals leads to fewer fast food or take-out orders?

My busiest nights are Wednesdays so I opt for a quick meal such as our Fried Egg Pasta Supper or an Oven-Baked Omelette . With all of the groceries on-hand, dinner can be on the table in 15-20 minutes, which is faster than ordering a pizza!

Margaret Hudson

President, Burnbrae Farms