Planning your meals ahead of time can save money

 
By Michelle Champalanne • Published: June 27th, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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The next time you’re hitting up a drive-thru because cooking a homemade meal seems too expensive, think again. Planning and preparing your meals ahead of time can help you save on both money and calories.

Researchers say many ready-made and processed foods actually cost more than homemade foods, especially over time.

These foods are also high in calories, saturated fats and sodium, and notoriously low in important nutrients. A poor diet full of processed foods can lead to long-term health problems, like cardiovascular disease.

The best way to keep a healthy, nutrient-dense diet is by planning meals ahead of time. Try these tips to save time and make eating healthy meals simple:

Sit down and plan all your meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) weeks ahead of time. Schedule in your family’s favorite dishes and add new recipe ideas to try out when you come across them.

Be sure to shop for ingredients and cook everything over the weekend. Store your meals in the fridge or freezer and just reheat or defrost when it’s meal time.

For a healthy snack alternative, cut up vegetables and have them ready to eat in the fridge. They go great with hummus, salsa or low-fat ranch dressing.

When grocery shopping, look for the best sales and collect coupons before you go. Also, stock up on the seasonal fruits and vegetables that are on sale.

Try to avoid ready-made foods, especially in the freezer aisle. They’re often full of sodium and can cost more than homemade foods in the long run.

Consider taking baby steps to make the process easier. Replace one high-calorie or high-fat serving with a nutrient-rich one at each meal. This will make eating healthy feel easier and your family won’t feel deprived of their favorite foods.