Food As Medicine: Meal-planning Ahead
Just like you can’t treat an ailment until you have the remedy on hand, the same goes with intentional nourishment. Are you one of the 53% of Americans who plan dinner within an hour of eating it? Talk about a fast transition!
By planning ahead, you have much more control over what you and your family consume, reduce the stress of decision fatigue, and often, save money in the process!
Plus, according to scientific studies, meal planning and make-aheads are associated with improved food variety, diet quality, and body weight status in a large sample of French adults. It also often reduces food waste, because you get in the practice of buying what you need and know you’ll use. It’s one practice with myriad wonderful benefits.
There are countless approaches to meal planning that are all highly dependent on personal preference, so we won’t try to prescribe a one-size-fits-all approach. However, we do encourage you to do some research about various styles and pursue a trial and error approach for your family until you see what fits you best!
Whether you prefer a fully detailed daily menu (Monday dinner: steak, roasted potatoes, salad), or a more category-style model (Monday: pasta night)—carving out 20 minutes each week to schedule your meals and create a shopping list removes a lot of daily friction between your family and the nourishment you need.
THE MAKE-AHEAD METHOD
Weekly make-aheads can be real lifesavers when you’re pressed for time or too drained to cook a healthy meal from scratch.
Simply cook up batches of flexible ingredients, then mix-and-match them through the week to your heart's (and stomach's) content!
Some delicious “make-ahead” ideas…
- Prep large batches of items that can be mixed and matched to easily create quick and healthy meals.
- Large sheet pans of roasted vegetables, tossed in oil and seasoned to your preference.
- Boil a chicken with aromatics, then shred and save the meat as a topping for salads and grains, then add the bones back in the pot and boil again for a broth you can use all week. (Try this version, too!)
- Load 32oz mason jars with your favorite greens, beans, and veggies for quick salads on-the-go. The same works with yogurt, granola, and fruit!
- Prep baggies of your favorite smoothie ingredients so you can just pour them into the blender and blitz
- Portion roasted nuts and/or trail mix into small pouches that you can take on the run, or sprinkle over yogurt
- Hard boil a half-dozen eggs for a quick hit of protein whenever you need it