Six Benefits of Meal Planning – for Dancers and All of Us!

According to a 2016 consumer survey by the Hartmann Group, 53% of dinners are planned within an
hour of eating them! This makes sense given our busy lives, whether dancing and working all day or
doing chores and taking care of the kids. The one thing that makes meals easier and significantly more
likely to happen is meal planning. Here are 6 ways it can help make a difference in your professional and
personal lives.

1. It saves you LOTS of money! We know that home cooked meals are way less expensive than

restaurant meals and/or take-out. That doesn’t mean that we don’t avail ourselves of these options, but
when we can prep and cook at home, it will put not pennies but dollars into your pocket. Planning your
meals, even if it is just a few days ahead, means that you will have shopped for healthy and convenient
foods to make quick, healthful and delicious meals when time is of the essence. I don’t know of any
young dancer, performer or busy mom or dad who isn’t budget conscious. Planning ahead and going
shopping for staples like frozen fish filets, tuna, rotisserie chicken, sliced turkey breast, frozen veggies,
tortillas, pastas, breads, eggs, yogurt and low or nonfat dairy, and fresh, frozen or dried fruit allows you
to take advantage of incorporating weekly sales and specials into your planning.

2. It enables variety and gives you control over your health! This makes healthful eating a lot less dull!

Cooking and prepping at home gives you more control over being able to meet your nutrient needs.
Dancers, athletes, and active individuals need all three macronutrients at each meal for balance, for
satiety, and for health. Think of the MyPlate visual for balancing proteins, carbohydrates and fats: half
your plate at meals should contain veggies and/or fruits (breakfast is usually more fruit forward), one
quarter of your plate can contain your favorite starchy carbohydrate such as rice or other grains,
potatoes, pasta, bread, cereals, crackers, or tortillas. The last quarter of your plate should be balanced
with a protein: chicken, turkey, lean red meat, eggs, beans, soy, dairy, nuts. Dress your salads with a
little olive oil and cook your proteins with some olive or sesame oil and voila, you have the perfect
balance of nutrients for energy and health.

3. Meal planning can make shopping more streamlined and decreases food waste. It seems a shame

to toss those fresh veggies into the garbage when you haven’t been home much for the past 3 or 4 days.
That is why stocking that freezer with frozen fruits, veggies, fish filets, veggie burgers, salmon filets and
keeping cans of beans and tuna on hand, you can make exactly what you need for the evening and next
day lunch with minimal waste. Sometimes it seems like going to the grocery store can be a major drag
on your time, but it you have a list and go in and stay organized you can be in and out pretty quickly.
You can also have groceries delivered in some areas for a minimal charge, so if that makes sense and
takes some pressure off, then by all means use the service.

4. Meal planning reduces what we call “decision fatigue”. Isn’t is exhausting to think about that late

afternoon stress or panic about deciding “what’s for dinner”? As a working parent or busy dancer who
may come home late after a day of classes, rehearsals, and/or part time job, planning reduces anxiety
and helps you cope! Keep things on hand that can make quick dinners, lunches and breakfasts like
pasta, canned tuna or salmon, eggs, low fat cheeses, beans, frozen fish filets, quick cooking grains like
couscous, cereals, peanut butter, yogurts, fresh, frozen and canned fruits, bagged salads and frozen
veggies. Plan the “plate” as referenced above and you are good to go!

5. Meal planning helps you choose healthier snacks. When we are hungry we tend to grab whatever is

convenient. For you “on the go’ folks, planning healthy snacks can greatly improve your well being.
What might those snacks be? Think whole foods if you can: dried and fresh fruits, nuts, cereal bars,
yogurt, low fat string cheese, crackers, granola, cut up veggies and hummus, peanut butter on a pear or
apple, whole grain pretzels and low fat or fat free milk for examples! Pair carbohydrates with proteins
and some natural fats (like those in nuts or low fat milk) and your hunger will disappear. Your energy
and mental focus will be boosted. You will also be more likely to eat healthier for the rest of the day.

6. Meal planning can help improve your mental health! We know that when we allow our blood sugar

to drop, as in skipping meals or skimping on carbohydrates, that we lose mental and physical focus, we
can feel sad or blue, we can feel anxious, and we will definitely crave sugar. Balancing regular meals,
snacks and your macronutrients can help you keep a positive attitude and for dancers even prevent
injury by keeping you physically focused. Get your eating plan regulated and reap the benefits!
For more information check out Eat Right Dance Right for meal and snack suggestions and so much more!

Eat Right Dance Right, the definitive nutrition handbook for dancers

Now available in ebook form on Amazon and Barnes and Noble