We’ve all had those nights when we realize it’s 6 p.m. and there is no plan for dinner. Then we spin into panic mode about what to scrounge up for dinner to feed your family. If we're honest, it probably happens far too often! Life is busy; it’s bound to happen. This is generally when we resort to a quick solution such as takeout or the drive-thru (or cereal?!) – and we can all agree on the fact that those aren’t the healthiest options. One of the biggest determinants of healthy eating vs. the drive-thru dining is preparation. Preparing for this dinner dilemma ahead of time will help you stay on track with your healthy eating, and will give you peace of mind. With a few small steps each week, you’ll be on your way to a healthy meal every evening — no panic involved. Here are three steps to get you there:
Prepare your space. First and foremost, prepare your kitchen area. Starting with a clean kitchen makes the process much more smooth and effective. Throw out any old food that is not salvageable and determine what you have left that you can use. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve purchased a new jar of spaghetti sauce when there was one hiding in the back of the pantry (next to two other unopened ones?!)
Make your plan of action. Before you head to the grocery store, make a detailed list of the items you need. We’ve all made the mistake of going to the grocery store without a list, right? You are always bound to forget something — and it’s usually the most important item — so rid yourself of that stress and make a detailed, organized shopping list beforehand.
Make it enjoyable. If you don’t enjoy cooking, ask for help. Make it an enjoyable experience so you are more likely to continue cooking regularly. I love listening to podcasts or audiobooks while I batch cook, or making a day out of it with my closest friends.
Spend the next hour or two chopping and prepping all of your food that your meals will include for the week. A simple way to batch cook all of your veggies is to roast them in the oven — they’re so delicious that way, and it couldn’t be easier for you to fill your oven with veggies and come back a half an hour later to a ton of aromatic, cooked vegetables. On top of batch cooking your meals for the week -- be sure to prepare several meals that you can store in the freezer to pull out in times of desperation. Knowing you have these options on hand will put your mind at ease, and give you a better option than ordering pizza.
Take action this week by making meal planning a priority and then choose one or two recipes, prepare a grocery list, then make time for shopping and food preparation. Meal planning takes practice, build your preparation muscle one meal at a time!
If you live in Western Michigan and would be interested in attending a workshop on make-ahead meals and batch cooking, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sara Wolfsen is a Certified Health & Lifestyle Coach who specializes in helping people make their own healthy changes by providing private health coaching, nutrition education and wellness classes, and gentle weight-loss guidance and support. Schedule your complimentary coaching session and learn more online at www.sarawolfsen.com.