I tried eating the same dinner for 2 weeks straight, and there were so many benefits that I'd totally do it again

  • In an effort to cook more nutritious meals at home, I ate the same dinner for two weeks straight.

  • I balanced my meal with protein and healthy fats from lentil pasta, vegetables, and a mixed salad.

  • I loved the easy prep work, thought my body felt better, and even looked forward to dinnertime.

I'm not someone who enjoys spending time in the kitchen and would rather end the day with takeout than cook myself a meal. But after doing an audit of my 2022 finances, I realized I spent way too much money on dining out and needed to change my eating habits.

So, in an effort to save money and delete the daily stress of figuring out what to cook, I ate the same meal every single night for two weeks.

Here's how it went.

I chose an easy pasta and salad meal that was inexpensive to prepare and included a lot of nutrients

Ingredients for pasta and salad on a countertop
I liked that I needed to grab the same few groceries when I went to the store.Jen Glantz

Registered dietitian Lori Walker said it was important to think of a meal with all the nutrients I needed for optimal health. According to Walker, such a meal would include vegetables, a lean source of protein, and healthy fats.

Since I'm a vegetarian, I decided my go-to meal would be lentil pasta, which has 12 grams of protein, alongside tomato sauce, a side of sautéed vegetables, and a mixed salad with avocado.

Irene Mejia, a registered dietitian, also told me that eating the same healthy, balanced dinner like pasta and salad each night would also provide a consistent source of nutrition.

During the experiment I ended up having more spare time to myself

The writer poses and smiles with a bowl of pasta
My new dinner saved me some time.Jen Glantz

By doing this experiment, I hoped I'd save time since I usually took about an hour to prepare dinner. I typically spent 75% of that time figuring out what to eat and debating whether I should cook or order takeout. I also spent around an hour a week in the grocery store trying to figure out what ingredients I needed since I never planned my meals ahead. 

Now that I had a set plan for dinner, I saved at least three hours a week.

I knew exactly what I needed at the grocery store and I'd cook two servings of the pasta and salad every other night so it would last me for two days. Since it was such a simple meal, it took me only about 10 to 15 minutes to make.

Preparing and eating dinner took only about 30 minutes, allowing me an extra half-hour to do something relaxing and enjoyable each night.

Eventually, I got bored of the same meal

Unfortunately, by the fourth night, I started to get tired of eating the same meal. I craved takeout from my favorite local spot and almost gave up on my eating challenge.

However, I was motivated to continue when I reminded myself that I was doing this to consistently eat balanced, nutritious dinners.

In trying to stick with this one meal, I began adding spices like pepper and garlic powder and different salad dressings like ranch and balsamic to help make it taste a little bit different every night.

Still, my body felt better and I think it's because it was getting the nutrients I needed

By day 10 of eating my pasta and salad meal, my palate got used to consuming the same thing and I found myself looking forward to dinner. I think that may be because my body was happy it was getting the nutrients it needed.

Walker told Insider that when you eat the same foods regularly, your digestive system gets used to them and "can lead to better gut health overall."

According to Walker, the experiment also had the benefit of potential weight loss or management because "eating the same foods regularly makes it easier to control your portion sizes and calorie intake."

Because I don't track my weight or weigh myself, I can't confirm if I lost a few pounds but I felt better over the two weeks than I did in a while. I didn't crave dessert as much, something I often did before, and I felt full every night.

Overall, I enjoyed the experiment and would try it again

The writer poses with a bowl of salad, vegetables, and pasta
I'm glad I experimented with eating the same meal for two weeks.Jen Glantz

All in all, I thought the experiment gave me encouragement to eat more nutritionally balanced meals and cook at home. Though I wanted a little more variety with my dinners, I think my body felt better and I loved how much time I saved at the grocery store and at home.

I'll take a break from eating the pasta and salad meal for at least a month but I want to try this experiment again with a different meal. That way, I can have two or three nutritious meals that I can switch back and forth from making each week.

But until then, I'll settle on ordering takeout one or two times a week.

Read the original article on Business Insider