Meal Planning 101
You’ve made the decision to get your diet under control and start eating healthy. But maybe now you’re thinking, Where do I go from here? Even if you love to cook, deciding to revamp your diet can be an overwhelming commitment, as it requires more effort and thought than boiling some noodles and heating up a can of spaghetti sauce. Here are some ideas to help you ease into the transition.
- Figure out what ingredients you will need for at least three or four meals for the week before you go grocery shopping. Then go to the store with a plan. You’ll notice when you start eating clean that good food is more expensive! If you want meat that hasn’t been so processed it’s practically radioactive and veggies that haven’t been drowned in pesticide, you’ll have to pay a little more. This means you don’t want to go shopping without a list because you’ll likely end up with a cart full of things you might not even need and an empty wallet. Before you leave for the grocery store—or farmer’s market if you’re lucky enough to have one close by—pick out your recipes for the week and write down exactly what you’ll need to buy. This might also be a good time to budget your food expenses for the week.
- If you don’t have a crock pot, get one! This is a crucial investment for the working person who wants to eat healthy. There are websites dedicated exclusively to healthy crock pot recipes, and this is a major asset to those of us who want to be healthy but don’t have hours of free time to cook every day. You can spend a few minutes prepping food the night before or the morning of and then go to work and have a delicious slow-cooked meal waiting for you when you come home. And the best part: You can get one for under $20!
- You + your food processor = BFF. You’ll probably notice that a lot of healthy recipes call for foods to be mashed up, chopped up or otherwise mutilated in ways you’ve never heard of before. Cauliflower rice, for example, is a common ingredient that requires whole cauliflower to be diced up into grain-like pieces. Unless you want to toil over these tasks by hand, I highly suggest getting friendly with a processor. You can spend a small fortune on one of these, but you certainly don’t have to. It really depends upon how often you think you’ll use it and how much food you’ll be preparing at one time. For the average person, a $30 processor is probably all you need.
- Pick a day, probably on the weekend if you work a normal work week, to dedicate a few hours to preparing meals. Make no mistake–this is not fun. It can be tedious, especially knowing you don’t even get to eat the food you’re prepping until later in the week. But it is so worth it in the long run. Having meals prepared, or at least mostly done, before your week begins will be a huge asset, particularly if you come home from a work day tired and not exactly motivated to cook. You’ll also be less tempted to eat out if you know you already have healthy food waiting for you in the fridge.
I hope this gives you some good ideas for how to begin a healthy eating regimen. Please feel free to comment with questions or your own ideas about eating well!