Life is busy, and before you know it, priorities––like eating healthfully––go out the window. Having a plan and doing your best to stick to it will keep you on track. Getting in the habit of regularly inventorying your kitchen, planning a weekly menu, and having a cooking strategy will save you frustration during the whirlwind.
By mixing and matching what you have on hand––whole, healthful foods in a variety of colors––with supplements from the grocery store, you can quickly plan meals to get you through the week. Do your best to be creative or you will essentially be eating the same foods over and over, but don’t overburden yourself. There are plenty of websites and smartphone apps like Sunfoods.com and Whole Foods Market Recipes that generate recipes from what you already have in your refrigerator and pantry. Spotlight one main ingredient in multiple ways––like grilled chicken breasts in one night’s dinner and another day’s lunch, or roasted Brussels sprouts that can be tossed into a salad one day and used as a side dish the next. Based on your calendar and kitchen inventory, design meals to last you the entire week.
If you’re wondering how you’re going to find the time to fit all of this into your already busy schedule, consider this: according to wellness pioneer Dr. Frank Lipman, research shows that the average American watches more than five hours of television each day, yet spends barely half an hour on food preparation. Take a good look at your less-than-productive hours and put them to better use by approaching your potential food dilemma in a smart and manageable way. Planning and preparing meals ahead not only puts your mind at ease, but guarantees success in nourishing your body, which is even more important when times get overly hectic.
Once you get into a routine of a weekly menu lined up and good foods in your kitchen, the risk of impulse eating something not so great and regretting it drops. At the end of your busy, busy day, you will be grateful for the hour or two you spent upfront creating plenty of healthful and delicious meals.
- Consult your calendar. Mark off the days of the week where you will realistically be able to grocery shop, cook, eat at home, or bring leftovers with you to the office.
- Inventory your kitchen. Write down everything in your fridge, cabinets, and pantry, grouping like items together on your list (meats, veggies, nuts, etc.). Toss any item that’s expired. Shop for any items you need to add/replace.
- Cook for the week. Prepare what you can in bulk––a pot of chili, steamed string beans, mashed sweet potatoes. Divide everything up into small containers or snack bags and freeze/refrigerate them. All you have to do from this point forward is refer to your weekly meal plan each day or the night before, then defrost, reheat, or assemble your meals accordingly.