Whether you like cooking or not meal planning is something that we do actively or passively. And there are times we may feel like not cooking or doing all those chores of cooking. While is normally not easy to make such feelings go away and we cannot deny them, in this article we are going to help you manage and get through them.
We are going to start by looking at what meal planning is and share some education on nutrition. We will then look at why it would be a good idea to meal prep. We will also talk about how meal prepping can be a whole lot easier with use of helpful websites or apps. We will also share with you options you can take to shortcut certain aspects in meal planning and prepping
The shortcut is the fun part. We will show you some websites (or apps) you can use to help you with healthy meal planning ideas. How to make a grocery list and make use of online grocery shopping sites.
We will share healthy meal prepping ideas like using meal kit delivery services or prepared meal delivery service that can have fresh or frozen meals delivered to your door. And don’t forget juicing and smoothies, we will share websites where you can buy or get ideas how to make healthy smoothies and juices.
In a nutshell here is the breakdown of some of the key points to expect in this article;
Best Meal Planning Service 2017 – this will give a list of the best meal planning sites that can help you with 7 day healthy eating plan, healthy meal plans for weight loss, healthy weekly meal plan with grocery list, vegetarian meal prep ideas, etc.
Best Online Grocery Shopping 2017 – this will be a list of some of the best online grocery shopping sites or apps you can use for online grocery shopping with free shipping, buy bulk organic food online, order groceries by mail, or just know where to buy wholesale groceries online, etc.
Best Meal Kit Delivery Service 2017 – this will be a list of meal kit delivery services that you can use all the time or occasionally when you don’t feel like doing the whole meal preparation and cooking from scratch. Whether you are looking for meal kit service for one person or best meal delivery service for weight loss you will find it here. After you package has arrived you just cook – chopping, ingredient and their measurements, etc will be done for you…
Best Prepared Meal Delivery Service 2017 – If you want everything prepared and all you have to do is minimal work like adding spices, salt or heating, these are the kind of services that your meal will be prepared already. They are at lest two kinds you can have a Fresh Prepared Meal Delivery Service or Frozen Prepared Meal Delivery Service.
Smoothie Kit Delivery – Smoothies and juices can also be a chore that you sometimes don’t feel like doing or you would rather have a drink that has been well crafted by the experts. You can smoothies delivered to your door or cleansing juices if that is what you want. This list will share some of the best sites out there that you can use.
OK let’s dig in!
Why Meal Planning?
- 1 Why Meal Planning?
- 1.1 Preparing Healthy Meals in Advance Begins with Education
- 1.2 Why You Should Meal Prep
- 1.3 Choose Your Meals and Recipes
- 1.4 Creating a Shopping List
- 1.5 Healthy Bulk Cooking Recipes and Ideas
- 1.6 Other Tips for Planning Your Menu Ahead
- 1.7 Bulk Prep Your Ingredients
In a world populated by fast food chains and eating out, processed food-like items full of toxins, additives and addictive chemicals are the norm. At the same time, the typical 21st century adult is busier than ever before. While automation and technology are meant to free mankind from toil and stress, they have done the opposite… we have less free time than people in the past.
Much of our day is dominated by staring into electronic monitors and screens. We sit more than stand, we are sedentary and inactive, and children now develop “adult” diseases. The increasing risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and mental health issues have created what the World Health Organization calls an epidemic of health problems we have never seen before.
In 2008, obesity in the US caused a recorded $147 billion in medical costs. Just 4 years later diabetes medical costs had bloomed to $245 billion. This condition, and others, is directly linked to overweight and obesity, physical symptoms linked with a long list of chronic diseases and illness. And while we used to believe that exercise could “offset” poor nutrition to a great extent, we now know that bad eating habits can’t be overcome with all of the jogging and weightlifting in the world.
If that sounds pretty grim, and it should, there is a simple answer… healthy meal prepping.
This healthy eating guide makes a simple proposition – to save you time and money while replacing poor health risks and realities with overall health and wellness. That begins with education, understanding what and how to eat for physical, emotional and mental health. You will discover a myriad of tips and best practices that make planning and preparing healthy meals simple.
There are apps and websites that can help you along the way, and you will receive a few simple recipes that promote good health. Coincidentally, you will discover exactly why you should prep days of nutritious meals in advance, if the scary health facts and figures from earlier are not enough motivation. Finally, you will formulate a shopping list, and uncover the frugal beauty of bulk buys.
If you are ready to avoid the 21st century curse of poor health so many profit-seeking food manufacturers have put on you and your family, let’s get started by going back to school.
Preparing Healthy Meals in Advance Begins with Education
Let us start with How to meal plan, buy in bulk, store food, and check expiration dates. Watch the following video before going to the next section.
Everyone has different health and fitness goals. If you want to bulk up like an Olympic bodybuilder, you need lots of protein and carbs. Those looking to lose weight will cut carbs and up dietary fiber. In general, though, there are some recommendations you want to aim for, especially regarding fat, carbohydrates and protein. These are the three macronutrients required by the human body in large supply, and they must be replaced frequently.
Since the 1970s, people in Western nations have been told that eating fat will make you fat. This simply isn’t true. The sugar industry spent millions on a media campaign to name fat as a health hazard and downplay the danger of sugar. It worked. Everybody began eating fat-free diets, sugar was seen as a healthy flavor provider, and now the world suffers from the worst sugar-related health problems in human history. Your body needs a decent amount of fat in your diet, good fats. About 20% to 35% of your total calories should come in the form of fat.
Healthy fats help your body absorb vitamins, they provide a protective cushion for your vital organs, and it can be stored as an energy source for use later. Totally avoid trans fats, limit your saturated fats, and focus on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to keep your cholesterol down.
Like carbohydrates, protein provides energy. Protein is harder to break down than fat or carbs, so when you eat foods with protein, you feel full longer. This helps you regulate how many calories you eat throughout the day. Accordingly, a high-protein diet that cuts back on carbohydrates is a great way to lose weight. About 20% to 35% of your daily caloric intake should be in the form of protein.
Every cell in your body requires protein, and the more active you are, the more protein you will need. Someone who is extremely active could require as much as twice the protein of someone who is sedentary. Protein can be found in plant-based foods, and animal-based foods contain much higher levels of this essential macronutrient.
You need somewhere between 30% and 60% of your calories to come from complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are translated to fat and stored almost immediately, so you want to avoid them. This means opting for carbs found in fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, as opposed to processed foods, starchy food, fast food, pastries and other unhealthy options. Vegetables, beans, plant foods and fruits make excellent complex carbohydrate choices.
Consider these proportions when planning your meals.
Understand that protein and carbohydrates deliver about 4 cal per gram of weight. Fat weighs in at a heavy 9 cal per gram, but again, sugar is the culprit that makes you overweight and obese, not fat. In a 2,000 calorie daily dietary plan, the above ranges would mean the following:
• Fat – 100 – 175 grams
• Protein – 100 – 175 grams
• Carbs – 150 – 300 grams
Understand that everyone is different. Your body works differently than anyone else’s. You are going to have to play around with these percentages until you find out what works for you.
Why You Should Meal Prep
Back in the introduction we highlighted the big 3 reasons you should be planning and prepping healthy meals ahead of time. You can save time, you can save money as well when you shop sales and buy in bulk, and you benefit from overall health and well-being. It is also easier to resist temptations when you plan your meals in advance, shop accordingly, and keep your belly full of healthy proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Meal prep is all about planning. And if you want to shortcut everything rather use the best prepared meal delivery services.
Prepared Meal Delivery Services
There are two kinds complete meal delivery services, you can have fresh prepared meal delivery service or frozen prepared meal delivery service. The former is more like having a restaurant delivering hot meals to your door and all you have to do is dig your teeth into the food as soon as it comes. No cooking! The latter you have to microwave the food before you eat it. Let’s us look at the top fresh prepared meal delivery services.
If you prefer pre-made meals for the week you would rather buy frozen meals. Below are some of the top rated frozen prepared meal delivery services you can choose from!
When you work out your schedule, and that of your family, you can shop and prepare your meals properly. This allows you to have healthy snacks around when the kids get hungry, and can keep you from reaching for unhealthy processed food and sugar-filled snacks if you get the munchies throughout the day. It also means eating a lot of plant-based foods, which are full of dietary fiber that cleans out your system and fills you up quickly.
When you focus on foods which are found in nature as opposed to processed foods, you ensure you are getting all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals your body and brain need. When you keep your mind and body fuel with the nutritious foods they crave, you are healthy and happy. Studies have also shown that this type of smart eating leads to healthy choices in areas of your life not related to nutrition.
When you start to see the positive impact that healthy meal planning has on your family, you want to make other smart changes. This usually leads to more energy for exercising and staying physically active, which is another plus.
The money end of the equation is simple. Eating out can be costly, to your wallet as well as your health. When you have no plan, you have to think on the fly where you are going to eat. It costs money to pay for someone else to prepare and serve the food you are going to eat. The per-serving cost of planning and preparing your own meals can be extremely low, and your meals can be as versatile as your imagination.
Don’t forget that you are going to be putting more time back into your life. One of the most common complaints of adults these days is a lack of time to get things done. When you feel rushed, you feel stressed. Stress is found as a key component in almost all chronic diseases. When you start limiting the stress in your life by enjoying more free time by planning your meals, you save money and time while reducing stress, which means benefits to your wallet and your health.
Another huge benefit of healthy meal planning is that you reduce your impact on the environment. Current food manufacturing processes waste natural resources, and in many cases are cruel to animals. You become an ambassador to the planet and the animals on it when you choose to shop, prep and eat your meals in a responsible and healthy manner.
Meal Kit Delivery Services
If all the meal planning and prepping is not your thing or you do not feel like it you can use meal kit delivery services. These services are flexible, you can have meal kit for singles, gluten free meal kit delivery, etc. If you are a family of 2 or more you can look for best meal kit service for families or for weight loss if you want to lose weight.
Meal Kits generally are prepped meals all you have to dos is cook – in most cases there is no need for chopping, measuring, etc. Below is a list of some of the top meal kit delivery services you can choose from.
Choose Your Meals and Recipes
So, how are you going to choose what you are going to eat? How many meals should you make at a time? If you make too much, will this lead to a lot of waste? Those are all good questions. That is what planning is for.
The last free day before you start your work week, sit down with paper and pen in hand. You may also opt to develop your meal plan online. If you choose the latter, the following applications go a long way to saving you a ton of time when you plan what and how much you will be eating in the coming week.
Some of these are paid services there may also be a free trial to test out the service. If you are unsure, start with the free trial!
Best Meal Planning Service 2017
When you are ready to get started, figure 3 main meals and 2 to 3 healthy snacks each day, for each member of your family. You want to cook and prepare meals for 1 week. This means 35 to 42 meals and snacks for each person each week. This may sound like a lot, but remember that you are not going to be eating massive portions at each meal like you may do now. A standard 2,000 cal diet would mean maybe 500 to 600 cal at your main meals, and 100 to 250 cal for your snacks.
That simple formula lets you know exactly how many meals you will need to prepare.
Divide your calorie intake out over those meals. If you don’t want to crunch numbers, just make sensible portions. People these days eat way too much, and they generally eat too few meals each day. Instead of eating two mammoth meals, stick to the 3 major meal and 2 or 3 snack formula just listed.
Make sure your snacks have protein whenever possible. As mentioned earlier, this keeps you feeling full longer than if you were to eat fat or carbohydrates. It can help you monitor and reduce your calorie intake throughout the day. Don’t forget to plan on drinking water, green tea, black tea or some other healthy beverage daily. Not only does this make you feel full, but the human body needs constant hydration.
The number of recipes you are going to need is really up to you. Some people can make a crock pot full of healthy chicken soup and parcel it out over a week. They don’t mind eating the same types of food over and over. You may have those in your family which require variety. This is going to dictate how many separate recipes you need to learn to make.
Also, don’t forget to include “reward” or “cheat” meals.
Eating a bacon double cheeseburger and large order of fries is not going to impact your diet too negatively if you prepare the meal yourself, and only enjoy that meal once a week. You can bake your fries or choose sweet potatoes over white potatoes to make them healthier, and make your burger out of grass-fed beef. You can still enjoy “bad” meals from time to time, and when you prepare them yourself, you can make them as healthy as possible.
Obviously, you want to address any specific dietary or supplementation needs you and your family have.
Creating a Shopping List
Once you know how many meals you are going to prepare, you can create your shopping list. Then it is off to your local grocer, farmers’ market or backyard garden to get the things you need.
Your shopping list can be as detailed or simple as you desire. One of the great things about cooking multiple meals at once and storing them for use later is you can cater this process to your personal desires. In our next section we will cover a few healthy bulk cooking recipes. Use these recipes or your own favorites in conjunction with the meal planning steps you took in the last section and you will have no problems creating the perfect shopping list.
Here are a few applications which can help you streamline your next trip to the grocer.
• Free Shopping List Ease
Also, check with your favorite grocery store manager about store-specific grocery list applications. These apps alert you to savings when you are shopping, and in many cases help you manage multiple grocery lists.
Watch the video below that gives you tips on how to shop for healthy, organic food at the grocery store. It is a video from Thrive Market. Thrive Market is one of the best organic online store to buy from. However, if you prefer to the grocery store here are a few tips how you should do it!
Healthy shopping tips – Choose organic whenever you can, Thrive Market is one of the leading places to buy organic food online cheap. You should always opt for grass-fed over grain-fed beef and wild-caught fish over farm-raised. Pastured, organic poultry and dairy products are healthier than those which come from animals that have been raised on grain like corn.
Sodas are never a healthy option, so opt instead for coconut water, coconut milk, almond milk, green tea, black tea and any herbal tea. Choose whole grains over more processed grains and bread choices, and stock up on fruits and veggies. Below is a list of some of the best online grocery shopping sites to do your grocery shopping.
Best Online Grocery Shopping Sites 2017
Healthy Bulk Cooking Recipes and Ideas
The following bulk cooking recipes may or may not float your boat. They are designed to be simple, and not require any special skills in the kitchen. You will find freezer and refrigerator meals and cooking ideas that can be tweaked to raise or lower the amount of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats you get with each serving.
Did you know you can freeze omelets. Make your favorite omelet in the largest pan you can find, and you can get as many as 4 to 5 servings out of one mega-omelet. Toss in fresh vegetables and prepare in coconut oil rather than butter or some other oil. Add shredded cheese or cheese slices, portion and freeze.
Scrambled Egg Muffins
Add bits of lean meat, whole grain bread torn in little pieces, cheese, broccoli and your favorite vegetables in a muffin tin. Whip together as many eggs as you need, pouring the egg mixture in with your ingredients. This simple, fast, healthy-as-you-want-it-to-be creation provides an inexpensive snack or a quick breakfast. Preheat your oven to 350°F and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, individually freezing portions for use later. Pop in your microwave for a minute, and you are eating.
Pre-Packed Frozen Smoothies
Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe? Smoothies are a simple way to enjoy a healthy beverage, and when you make them at home, they are a heck of a lot less expensive than when you buy them from a juice or smoothie retail location. Instead of making a smoothie, pop your favorite ingredients into re-sealable freezer bags.
Write the name of the smoothie on the bg. Do this for a couple of dozen smoothies at once, and you will always have a yummy, nutritious drink that is ready to go after less than a minute in your blender.
Veggie Pizza Pockets
Use ready-made pizza dough, whole-grain if it is available, or make your own healthy dough from scratch. You can also opt for large pita breads. You will need some organic pizza sauce, your favorite cheese, and of course your preferred pizza ingredients.
Prepare your dough, then roll it into 6″ to 8″ circles. Add your pizza sauce, leaving a 1/2″ ribbon around the edge of the dough. Place your toppings and cheese on one half of the dough and fold over. Pinch together around the edges. Lightly oil a baking sheet with olive oil or coconut oil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes in an oven preheated to 450°F. Freeze, then bake or microwave when hungry.
Super Simple Chicken Nuggets
Frozen, store-bought, processed, fast food chicken nuggets can be nutritional nightmares. These are not. You bake for 25 minutes, spend about 15 minutes prep time and only use 4 ingredients. You save money and time, and these are so much healthier than anything you buy away from your home. Just 1 pound of ground chicken will make roughly 20 to 24 nuggets. Mix 1 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of chicken. Combine 1 cup of breadcrumbs of your choice and 1/4 cup finely grated cheese.
Drop 1 tablespoon of your chicken into the bread crumb mixture. Coat all over, pressing into a flat, oval, chicken tender shape, roughly 1/2 inch thick. Cook for 25 minutes in a 375°F oven. That’s it. Make as many as you like, as these are a healthy hit with the kids, and you can create your own healthy sauce for dipping.
Any Kind of Soup
What is your favorite kind of soup? Why not make it in the largest slow cooker you have? You can combine any healthy ingredients you like, opt for low-salt soup stock, and cook for 4 to 6 hours. Bake or roast poultry or meat ahead of time, and add fresh vegetables and any other ingredients you desire. You can get anywhere from 6 to 12 large bowls of soup from a slow cooker this way, and you simply freeze individual servings in microwavable glass containers.
Best Smoothie Kit Delivery
You may also order ready-made (fresh or frozen) smoothies delivered to your door from one of the following;
Other Tips for Planning Your Menu Ahead
Look at your shopping list. Which types of items are going to go bad before the others? Which can be frozen? How much storage space do you have in your pantry, freezer and refrigerator? One of the biggest mistakes rookie meal planners make is over-shopping. In their haste to begin eating healthy and saving money and time, they buy too much food, some of it eventually going to waste.
Think about that ahead of time. Stick strictly to your 1 week meal numbers and recipes. You will learn as you go. At the end of your first week of eating pre-made meals, see what foods you have left over before making your shopping list for the upcoming week. This keeps waste at a minimum, which also means saving money.
It was mentioned earlier but bears repeating. Don’t forget to plan your favorite “cheat” meals here and there. This doesn’t mean one unhealthy meal a day, but a couple of less than healthy home-cooked meals each week is not going to ruin your health.
Buy a rice cooker, a slow cooker, large mason jars, resealable freezer bags, a dependable chef’s knife and a nice sized blender. You may want to pick up a paring knife, produce brush, silicone baking mat, muffin tins and a juicer. Don’t forget natural herbs and spices to use in place of unhealthier alternatives like salt. Buy glass containers which are machine washable and microwavable if you can, and opt for BPA-free if you go plastic.
Bulk Prep Your Ingredients
The way healthy meal prep works is by doing individual tasks at once. After you plan your recipes, the number of meals you will be making, and you come back from your shopping trip, it is time to get busy. Dice or sliced one or two large onions by hand or with a convenient food chopper. You can do the same with tomatoes. This means they are available whenever you need them, and you don’t waste time by handling your produce multiple times throughout the week.
Depending on your recipe, you may want to cook several pounds of meat, poultry or fish at once. Organic chicken breast is extremely versatile. Cooking and portioning out a lot of chicken makes for easy and quick access and versatility all week long. Make fresh juice in your juicer and store in a 1 gallon glass container. This allows the family to sip on that nutritious drink over the period of a couple of days.
When you keep your eyes open for sales and buy in large quantities, bulk buys can dramatically limit the cost per serving of the food you make. When you prep and process your food in bulk quantities, you save valuable time while enjoying better health.