Picture the scene; you have just got home from a busy day at work, and have little time before the kids need to be put to bed. You also need to eat, however, and the idea of preparing a healthy and nutritious meal seems fanciful.

So what do you do? If you are like 16% of British citizens who spend less than an hour each day preparing, cooking and clearing away food at meal time, you most probably look for a fast and convenient alternative that satisfies the appetite but offers scarcely any nutrition or dietary balance.

How to create Nutritious Meal Plans

This can lead to a genuinely unhealthy lifestyle over time, especially if a diet characterised by convenience food is supplemented by a lack of activity or exercise. This is why meal preparation is so crucial for modern families, as it helps households to develop a balanced diet that increases energy levels and encourages greater levels of physical exertion. Here are some key steps towards creating nutritious and ultimately time-effective meal plans:

Utilise Whole Foods where Possible

Whole foods should serve as staple features of any healthy meal plans, and there are two key reasons for this. Firstly, they offer the most nutritional value of any food group, as they essentially include ingredients that are consumed as close to their original forms as possible. Secondary to this, they are also easy and less time-consuming to prepare, as they are not subjected to intense cooking processes before being served. Whole foods include staples such as baked potatoes and fresh vegetables and they should feature heavily in your daily meal plans.

Control and Regulate Portion Sizes

When attempting to create a balanced and nutritional range of meal plans, portion size is an integral consideration. After all, even the healthiest meal plan can be undermined by a core dietary imbalance or an excess of one particular food group, so carefully controlling portions will ensure that you achieve your healthy eating goals. It is particularly important to regulate portion sizes of food groups such as carbohydrates and fat, while this process should also reduce the amount of food that you need to prepare on a daily basis.

Plan Ahead on a Weekly or Monthly Basis

From a strategic point of view, meal planning can easily be undermined if it is attempted on a daily basis. The secret lies in the application of the word ‘planning’, which should empower you to research recipes and shop for ingredients on either a weekly or a monthly basis. Weekly meal planning is probably the more manageable option in terms of purchasing ingredients and scheduling meals, while you can also use the quiet hours of Sunday evening to research viable recipes and plot a detailed plan for the following seven days.

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