As a nation, we’re not getting adequate, quality sleep. In The Sleep Revolution, Arianna Huffington writes that she wishes to see “people list their healthy sleep habits as an item on their resumes.” We need seven to nine hours each night, and making up for it on the weekends, doesn’t quite cut it.
Parents of babies have a particularly rough time with sleep. A child not sleeping isn’t the only thing that keeps parents up though. Chores do, too. Twenty-seven percent said so in a study by Daily Mail.
Cooking is a common chore; we can’t survive long without food. By cutting down on the time we spend cooking, we’ll have more time for sleep — hopefully. I caught up with some nutrition and dietician experts and here’s the low down on the best meal planning app and meal planning tips for the work week, but first …
Reasons to meal plan:
Alana Kessler, MS RD, CDN, E-RYT and founder of BE WELL says, “a meal plan promotes organization,” “supports healthier meals,” and “removes the potential for a chaotic and reactive environment,” so a.k.a. it’s calming. We tend to eat based on how we feel. Sleep deprivation makes us sugar ‘hangry’ because the brain doesn’t get charged up enough during sleep and so we take the needed energy through glucose. Planning meals curbs the chances of not getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals that will help set our minds and bodies up for our best work. Plus, who wants to look like a disorganized Mamma? Modeling the behavior that you want to see, according to science, makes us awesome parents.
The #1 meal plan app:
When you’ve had a busy day at work, it feels great to come home to a healthy, tasty meal that’s not going to make you feel guilty. There are a number of good, free meal planning apps like Mealime, Cozi and Yummly. Mealime's meal planning app vows to help time-strapped busy professionals learn to cook, eat healthy and save time with personalized and healthy meal plans. It's certainly a resourceful planner app. With Cozi, you can manage your family’s go-to recipes and discover new favorites with Cozi’s Recipe Box and Dinner Planner. You can also save recipes from your favorite sites in one organized place and add the ingredients to your grocery list with just one touch with the free app. And Yummly is another free app meal planner that matches over one million recipes to your cooking lifestyle's nutrition, diet, food allergies and favorite cuisines in the palm of your hand on your iphone. The app reads: "Want Healthy? Quick? Italian? Gluten-free? Paleo? Savory? Fried? With Yummly, create a personal food experience that finds the recipes you want, when you want them."
But there are a several reasons that make Kitchen Stories the best free meal-planning app. It's an easy iphone app that offers more than just a meal planner; it's also your grocery list for the ingredients you need to cook smart — whether those ingredients are found at the grocery store or in your very own pantry. There is a menu for everyone.
- There are calorie sliders and you can choose between veggie, vegan and gluten free dietary options.
- Kitchen Stories shows you the difficulty level, a perfect way to cater to your cooking mood.
- You can adjust the serving size with the click of a plus or minus button. This makes it super easy to cook in batches and save time.
- The app is visually neat and clean, creating a sense of order and ease.
- There’s a quick section with meals that can be cooked in 20 minutes and under. Talk about bonus productivity points.
- The meal preparation and cooking steps are easy to follow and the photo and video instructions make it perfect for visual and auditory learners.
- Kitchen Stories has a list of nutritious meals for ‘lean’ budgets.
- There are “how to” videos on things like how to clean, dry, and store salad, how to slice a cake like a pro, and how to prepare a cake pan.
- You can actually plan your dinner on the go with the practical shopping list generator.
- You can even export your list to your reminders for a hassle-free shopping experience.
Melissa, a registered nutritional therapist and owner of Roots & Shoots Nutrition highly recommends it because “it’s easy to use and has mood boards for inspiration.” Kitchen Stories really does help downloaders live up to their slogan: “Anyone can cook.”
So who's hosting dinner tonight? Andrea Laine, RD from Baby Fresh Organics has a great motto. She says, “Prep once, eat often.” I totally agree with working smarter and not harder with our chores so we have more time for sleep.
Now go meal prep your favorite recipe on the menu. Bon appetite and sweet dreams.
Rachel Montañez holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Career Guidance and has worked in the Professional Training and Coaching industry since 2007 across 3 continents. She is the founder of Sleep 10:2 and specializes in helping parents with infants get better quality sleep, time, and work-life harmony. Join the Sleep 10:2 community at www.sleep10to2.com.