Meal planning is not only huge way to save money (one of the women who uses my meal planning guide told me that she is saving around $1,000 per month from meal planning!!), it’s also a great way to get yourself to eat healthier.
Meal planning doesn’t automatically make you eat healthy though. I have noticed that I can use meal planning to eat healthy if I use the strategies below…
6 Ways to Use Meal Planning to Eat Healthy
1. Plan Healthy Meals
This seems like the most basic idea but it’s #1 on the list for a reason… It works! I use meal planning to eat healthier by planning healthy meals.
Grocery shopping for whatever sounds good leads to pizza 9 times out of 10 for me. If I’ve planned ahead and bought groceries to make turkey burgers, spaghetti squash spaghetti, and grilled chicken wraps, we’ll eat those much healthier options instead.
When I think ahead about what we should eat for the week, I can think clearly about healthy choices and balancing our meals. It’s a “head decision” instead of a “hungry-belly decision”.
2. Do Not Bring Unhealthy Foods Home
We easily get in the habit of throwing certain foods into the cart. They’re kind of just staples at the house whether you think about it or not. Chips, cookies, brownie mix, high sugar cereal, juice… But if you bring unhealthy foods home, you eat unhealthy foods!
Stop buying junk food and it will be a whole lot harder for you to eat junk food.
This is where you think that you’re not buying junk food for you, you’re buying these “treats” for your spouse or kids. First, it’s time to admit that they’re not the only ones eating the junk food. Second, why is it ok for them to eat junk? It’s not a treat to give someone something unhealthy if you really think about it. Tough love, my friend.
3. Buy the Portions You Need
Excess food easily causes either waste or overeating. If you try to buy only what you need, there’s not much left to overeat.
Last week we bought a bag of chips to go with a few meals on my list (not something we normally buy unless we’re with friends or family). I told Austin that the bag of chips was meant to go with specific meals. That meant that we couldn’t just chow down the whole bag when one of us got the munchies.
By buying the amount that we needed, there wasn’t a ton left over to overeat with.
4. Plan Healthy Snacks
My sister-in-law laughs at me all the time because one of my most-used phrases is “I’m munchy”. I love snacks and I get the munchies just about every night!
Snacks can be a huge stumbling block to healthy eating, not because snacks are a bad idea, but because it’s easy to forget to plan for snacks.
I plan snack ideas for each week: usually string cheese, hard boiled eggs, whole wheat banana muffins (we make this recipe almost every week!), and applesauce. When I’m munchy, I know there’s something nutritious that I can grab.
5. Plan Simple Meals
The more time-consuming and complicated the meals I plan, the more likely I am to scrap the plan and order takeout. You can see from my what we eat in a week post that we eat very simply.
My favorite trick is to grill a whole bunch of boneless skinless chicken breasts and then use them for a few days to make wraps, salads, quesadillas or sandwiches. With some raw fruit or veggies on the side, I can make each meal in about 10 minutes.
Make it easy on yourself to make healthy choices by planning simple meals.
6. Plan It All
I know we talked about snacks already, but I want to remind you to plan it all: breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, and desserts.
If you’re planning healthy dinners, that’s great! Though, not-so-great if you’re getting fried fast food for lunch each day. When I create my weekly meal plan, I make sure that we have good options for each meal, plus our snacks and some dark chocolate on hand for dessert.
Examine everything you’re eating to make sure that you’re making nutritious choices.
If you want help with meal planning, you can get my complete guide that walks you through the 5 steps I use to plan our meals each week (worksheets included). There are plenty of expert tips about saving time and money, as well as a premade one-week meal plan including the grocery list and recipes for all three meals, snacks, and desserts. Take a look at Let’s Make Meal Planning Simple by clicking here.
By planning healthy meals and snacks, leaving the junk food at the store, and keeping meals extra simple, we’ve been eating healthier than ever.
I’m telling you, meal planning is a wonderful thing! Not only do we save a whole lot of money and spend less time in the kitchen when we meal plan, we also can use meal planning to eat healthy.
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⇒ Do you meal plan? What strategies do you use to get yourself to eat healthier?
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