What Meal Planning can do for You — and Nebraska

What Meal Planning can do for you — and Nebraska

By Bradley Averill, Nebraska Extension Educator and CYN Steering Team Member

 

Nebraska Extension helps Nebraskans enhance their lives through research-based education. Food, Nutrition and Health include one of Nebraska Extension’s focus areas for educational programming. Delivering research and evidence based programming can have a significant impact on the health and well being for the people of Nebraska.

As an Extension Educator for Food, Nutrition and Health, my job is to increase the nutritional and physical literacy of Nebraskans. Using formal elements from my education—B.S. in Physical Education from Grand Valley State University and M.A. in Physical Education from the University of South Florida—and research from the University of Nebraska, it is my job to provide the most up-to-date information on how exercise and improved nutrition can improve the quality of your life.

Nebraska’s current obesity rate sits at 31%—14th highest obesity rate in the United States. As the chart below outlines, Millennials represent a lower obesity rate than other age groups.

Trust for America's Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The State of Obesity 2016 [PDF]. Washington D.C. 2016.

 

Before arranging a victory parade for having lower obesity rates than the other age groups, you might want to take another look at the chart to see your future. Obesity rates double between the ages of 26-44. There are many factors that could contribute to an increase in obesity as we age. Improved meal planning practices can have an significant impact on obesity rates, regardless of your age.

 

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
– Benjamin Franklin

 

Properly planned meal preparation can help both your waistline and your budget. Meal preparation means:

Most families do the cooking, portioning and storage on a daily basis, but with proper planning most of the cooking that you do all week long can be done in one day. Saving money, saving time, portion control and attaining fitness goals can all be achieved by preparing meals ahead of time.

By preparing your meals in advance, you are less likely to spend money outside of the home. Fewer trips to fast food locations or convenience stores can save you hundreds of dollars each year. A carefully thought out grocery list also keeps you from purchasing impulse foods that are not healthy or cost effective. Only purchasing food you need for the week will also save you from food waste.

 


 

  1. https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usda_food_plans_cost_of_food/CostofFoodJul2014.pdf
  2. Bloom, American Wasteland, 187. The author reports a 15 percent loss in homes, with potentially an additional 10 percent loss in liquid products.

 


 

Not only does meal preparation save you money, but cooking your meals for the entire week in one day is a time saver. Two or three hours spent cooking and preparing on a Sunday, can alleviate the need to cook a meal the rest of the week. With this meal preparation plan, fixing nightly meals will only require you to reheat meals that have already been cooked. This allows more time to spend with your family, hit the gym or just relax instead of rushing home from work to prepare a meal during the week.

When you plan out and prepare your meals ahead of time, you take control of how much food you are consuming during each meal. It is important to remember that each of our bodies require different amounts of food and nutrients. For this reason, make sure that your portions are rationed properly for each member of your family. To find out how many calories you should be consuming every day, consult your physician.

Proper nutrition is just as important to a healthy lifestyle as exercise. There is an old saying that states, “abs are made in the kitchen.” There is a lot of truth to this phrase. Your body requires healthy food for endurance, strength and weight loss. With your meals properly planned and portioned, it is easier to include foods that give you energy (whole grains), muscle building proteins (lean meats and nuts) and vitamins and minerals (fruits and vegetables).

To prevent food waste and to test the feasibility of weekly food planning for your family, it may be best to cook twice per week instead of once per week initially. This will help with the identification of proper food storage needs, as well as the nutritional needs of your family.

I would love to hear how your family prepares meals. Do you go grocery shopping once per month or once per week? Do you prepare each meal individually every day? Share your meal preparation ideas with your fellow CYNers on Facebook or Twitter.

 


 

Bradley Averill

Bradley Averill

Food, Nutrition, and Health Educator | Nebraska Extension

Bradley Averill is the University of Nebraska Extension Educator for Food, Nutrition, and Health. He grew up in Holt, Michigan, and currently resides in Neligh, Neb. He pursued his undergraduate degree at Grand Valley State University and attended graduate school at the University of South Florida. He believes that Connecting Young Nebraskans (CYN) can bring together young talents from all across the state and allow young professionals to network with peers of different backgrounds.

 


 

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