There are so many benefits to meal planning and meal prep we all know about - weight loss, saving money, reducing food waste. But, there are these three unexpected benefits that have made this a long lasting habit!
Meal planning and prep is often associated with a diet culture and to be honest, that is why I started meal planning and doing meal prep.
That is not why I still have this habit - 5 years later.
In fact, for me, meal planning has absolutely nothing to do with weight loss or following any sort of diet plan (often called "lifestyle change" to make it sound less like weight loss culture.)
After 5 years of being a meal plan addict, there were some really awesome unexpected benefits!
Say good buy to mindless eating, and say hello to mindful, intuitive eating.
Meal prepping and planning has helped me become thoughtful about what I am eating.
When you plan your week of food, you make better food choices.
You think with your head, and not your stomach. You are making a conscious decision of what is going in front of your family. You stop letting your busy life be an excuse for poor habits.
Meal prepping and planning rekindled my relationship with food. I shifted from eating what was readily available and fast, to creating food that was readily available and fast.
I notice that when it is meals I have created, I have more of an appreciation for food.
I seek better ingredients. I wonder where my ingredients come from. I have become friends with local farmers and have amazing conversations about where my food is coming from.
Food isn’t just something quick and mindless I put in my body. I pay alot more attention to it now - that is being mindful.
Meal Planning helps me organize my whole week - beyond what am I eating.
Meal planning forced me to look at my week ahead.
What is going on in the evenings? Who has baseball and when this week? What nights do my husband or I have business meetings? Who is travelling that week? Who is going to the gym right after work and needs dinner on the fly?
When I plan meals to suit the level of chaos each night, it gives me the 10 minutes I need to look at the whole week. Often I can plan babysitting, girls happy hour dates, and other activities for the week at the same time.
This gives a sense of organization and declutters my mind and sets me up for a good week.
Meal Planning and Meal Prep are a form of Self Care
Seriously, I did not even know what self care was until recently. Everybody needs to learn the concept of self care. I had absolutely no idea that this little habit of mine had become my therapy. My self care.
Practicing self care means taking actions to serve YOU. To take care of your mental, physical and emotional health. Meal prepping touched on all of this for me.
Meal prepping and planning was my time to STOP AND SLOW DOWN.
Sunday is my time to STOP and think. What does the week have in store. Oh, yea I am worried about A,B,C and should call a friend to talk me off that ledge.
Wow, yea, this week is a bit nuts, and I need to drop about 10 things. This habit has made me think each week – can I handle all of this in just this one week? Do I need to handle all of this? What’s important? What can wait?
Meal planning forces me to stop. think. evaluate.
Meal prepping is also telling myself that I am worthy of my own freaking time! MY time. I get to stop and plan what I want to eat. Not run through a drive thru and eat whatever is available. I am worth MY OWN time.
If you are a meal planner or a meal prepper, I would love to know the benefits that you enjoy about the habit - here in the comments!