Being fit and healthy impacts more than just clothing size. Research has shown that employees with a healthy BMI earn more money over the course of their career than those with an unhealthy BMI. Employees who are fit tend to have better immune systems, and therefore take fewer sick days. They also experience an increase in energy and are more productive throughout the day, which shows that being fit positively impacts your professional life.
[Editor’s Note: Do Finances Affect Your Health? Find out in “Does Balancing Your Health and Finances = Wellness?”]
There are two primary factors that impact fitness levels: exercise and eating right. There are many ways to get exercise, including joining a gym, buying home exercise equipment or lacing up those sneakers and heading out for a run! However, for some, eating right can present a greater challenge. Meal planning, grocery shopping, and meal prepping for a busy family for an entire week can seem overwhelming. But research shows that eating together as a family is worth the effort! From reduced rates of teen smoking and drug use to better grades and lower incidence of depression and anxiety, having five family meals per week around the family table can literally change your children’s lives!
There are many things to consider when planning a family meal. The cost of the food, convenience, nutrition/healthy options, variety, taste and sustainability are all important factors of family meal planning. Eating out or having restaurant food delivered typically costs more than cooking at home. Plus, calories can be 50% lower when preparing food in the kitchen. But, did you know there are alternative options to eating out and/or preparing meals at home?
Meal kit delivery services have sprouted up across the country. Blue Apron, the pioneer in the market, has been joined by HelloFresh, Green Dish, and Peach Dish, to name just a few! Each has its own place within the industry. Some tout organic sourced ingredients, while others offer flexibility within their plans. Others provide customers with exotic choices they might not otherwise prepare. Using a meal kit delivery service takes some of the stress out of planning meals for the family. The key to enjoying a meal kit company is picking a service that has an appealing menu! With easy-to-use websites, online ordering is simple.
One drawback with meal kit services is the excess packaging. Boxes, wrapping, and freezer gel packs to dispose of can be a challenging hurdle to the environmentalist. However, many meal kit services have minimal food waste and sustainably sourced ingredients. As far as meal plan costs are concerned, most tend to be fairly competitive.
Autumn Yates breaks down the comparison for three popular delivery services, and found that copying the recipes with grocery store ingredients can save money, but much depends on the service as compared to a fully stocked kitchen, which many people do not have! Meal delivery services can get you out of a menu rut and help you prepare healthy, interesting meals for your family, if you don’t mind the repetition of the food (many of the services do not have menu options that are unique enough to last for more than a few weeks).
While to some this option may seem the most daunting, it can also be the most cost-effective and nutritious way to go. Nutrition experts find that individuals are more likely to eat healthy during the week if weekly meal planning is done ahead of time. Furthermore, shopping experts find that less money is spent at the grocery store if meals are planned prior to the trip. This may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Just remember to start small and shop big!
[Editor’s Note: For more on how healthy eating can improve your everyday life, check out “Eat to Live: This Article Might Just Save Your Life”]
Purchasing family size portions of packaged foods and meats at the grocery store or bulk stores (like Costco or Bj’s) are more cost-effective. The key is to plan meals that use common ingredients for the week so nothing is wasted. For example, a roasted chicken can be prepared in the slow cooker, and then the leftover chicken can be used for another meal. To avoid feeling like meal planning is an insurmountable task, choose two busy weekdays and plan and prepare those meals on Sunday. Then do a meal kit delivery service once or twice a week, and boom! Four days of meals are planned.
The benefits of preparing food at home and having family dinners are indisputable, but there is really no need to stress. Weekly meal planning for the family can be a joyful, bonding experience. Children can also get involved by helping plan the meals, going grocery shopping, and even helping to cook. Kids are more likely to eat what is in front of them if they have had a hand in preparing it, so get those picky eaters in the kitchen! The family that cooks together stays together.
Weekly meal planning can help save money, lower BMI, and is more cost effective. Winner winner, what’s for dinner?
Mercedes is a business owner and the Executive Consultant with Rodan + Fields. In addition, she works in the field of behavior analysis for children with autism and their families, specializing in preschool-aged children. She also has her Masters in Science from the University of California at Davis.
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