The growing concept of weekend outings, take in food, and fast food trucks have blindsided people to the deceptive notion of healthy living. We are okay with following a cheat day by gorging on calorie-rich, deep-fried delicacies when you starve for an entire week with a customized diet plan. It’s okay to eat junk foods and processed snacks on weekends because you want a lazy day. These excuses are becoming a fashion statement because it is being endorsed by celebrities and public figures.
The millennial generation has shifted to instant and processed meals because of a mammoth focus on wealth, power, and fame. We become obsessed with the fact that the wealth tops as the list of our accomplishments while ignoring the need to have a healthy body. Because of this, it has become difficult to recognize the worth and power of agriculture and sustainable farming.
But life is a circle. Nature is taking us back to the fundamental needs of human life by increasing our focus on leading a healthy lifestyle with sustainability. Therefore, now it is more than necessary to create a novel concept of conscious eating by planning your meals ahead of time to be healthy and reduce food wastage.
Meal planning is just like gardening or farming as it requires a little more care, patience, and creativity. Sowing seeds and waiting for harvest can be a hard task, but the joy of reaping its benefits is enormous. Similarly, when you start meal planning, it can look like a strenuous task but after a few weeks of following it, you will feel its effects on your body, mind, and lifestyle.
Here are a few things to include in your daily lifestyle to become a better meal planner,
Listen to Your Body: The first step in meal planning a meal is to have a clear mindset and understanding of your bodily functions.
• Make a note of your moods, cravings, feelings you have towards food.
• Spend time with yourself and check how your body reacts to seeing, smelling, and tasting certain food items and products in your pantry.
• Make a list of the produce, spices, nuts, oil, and products you use every day
• If you are allergic to certain foods, note it down to avoid them in the meal plan.
Choose Seasonal Foods: Traditionally, a year has four seasons based on the weather, agriculture, and harvesting conditions. In tropical countries like India, China, Malaysia, summer and spring seasons last longer than winter and autumn seasons. Whereas in the USA, UK, Russia, and Europe, it is vice versa.
• Make your meal plan according to the seasons in your locality.
• Buy and eat seasonal fruits and vegetables.
• Stock during a sale because seasonal produce is easily available and much cheaper than processed and frozen non-seasonal produce.
Plan Your Grocery Shopping: Most people go out for grocery shopping every day or on weekends without a list. Most stores use discount sales as an option to empty its old stock. Make use of it in the right way.
• Never buy perishable products during a sale because it can spoil much faster when you buy in bulk.
• Buy whole spices, spice powders, flour, oil, and dry fruits in bulk, as they can last for 3-6 months if stored properly.
• Always shop for a variety of fruits and vegetables for a week.
• You can either plan your meals and buy the required grocery or meal plan after shopping. It’s your choice.
Follow Right Storage Practices: The interest people show in buying food products is much higher than in storing them properly. When you become mindful of buying, storing, cooking, and eating food in the right way, you can automatically feel active and less stressed while meal planning.
• Wash fruits and vegetables in vinegar and water as soon as you return from the store.
• Never keep foods in the store packaging after opening as it can accelerate the rate of spoilage.
• Store dry foods in separate containers and wet foods in the fridge for a longer shelf life.
• For bulk storage, keep the beans, rice, whole spices, and flours inside a closed cabinet. We must store spice powders and perishables in the freezer.
Batch Cooking: The more you love cooking, the easier it will become to plan your meals. Batch cooking is a simpler technique to clean, process, and store your cooked meals for a shorter time. This can be best for bachelors, nuclear families, and students to eat healthier meals without busting their pockets.
• Choose a variety of complimentary vegetables to cook in a week. Make one-pot meals with rice, dal, and vegetables and store it in separate portions for 2 days.
• Cut 3-4 fresh fruits and raw vegetables to make instant salads and chats. You can store these for 2 days without the dressings.
• Marinate meat and seafood in bulk for many recipes and store them in the freezer for a week. Adding spices to the meat prolongs shelf life compared to raw meat.
• Cook soups, chicken curry, fish stew and store them in separate containers.
• Making dishes for two meals instead of one can cut your cooking time. You can always enjoy your leftovers with fresh salads, yogurt, and chilled drinks.
Little plans at play overcome little thoughts a day and keep little worries at bay – Meal Planning is the Way!