I know how it is. You are busy: working, supporting families, building business, following dreams and trying to maintain some sense of balance. At the end of the day you are exhausted and the last thing you want to think about is what’s for dinner or who is doing the shopping. I know you are health conscious and desire to eat better but I see your carts.
Sometimes you can’t help but to grab the quick meals, prepackaged foods or eat out. I’m guilty of this too. There must be a better way to get a decent meal on the table. Right? The truth is the more you cook at home and prepare meals from fresh whole foods the more energy you will have and the quicker you will build your vibrant health.
I know planning is boring and sometimes it feels like it takes too much time and energy. But know that good food habits can quickly become routine, and in the end will pay you back in time and money saved and result in big shifts in your well being.
Set a Date: Pick an hour or two each week to plan your weekly meals. Important: Don’t stand yourself up. Most of the stress of cooking comes from arriving home late, hungry, with no clear idea of what ingredients you have or what to cook. By creating a dinner plan for the week, you eliminate all that stress, eat better, feel better and save money. This is a date you will want to keep.
Keep It Simple: Pull together recipes you like but keep it simple. Plan an easy breakfast like green smoothies, warm grains or veggie scrambles. Utilize diner leftovers for lunches and keep simple snacks on hand like nuts and fruit. Check out Kris Car’s meal plan as a template for meal planning.
Make a List: Use your meal plan to create a list. Shop with it. I often skip this simple step and wind up in trouble—calling my husband asking if such-n-such is in the fridge. When you shop from your list you will avoid unhealthy impulse buying—which will ultimately save you time and energy not having to return to the store later. I still make a paper list if you can believe it but you can keep a running list on your phone if that is easier for you.
Shop with Intention: Shopping with a list in hand should be a breeze. I know my store well. I hit the outside isles (that’s where all the produce and healthy foods are) in clockwise circle, use the self checkout, and I’m done in a flash. The more you shop with a list and with intention the more time and money you will save.
Never Shop Hungry: Just as important as your meal plan date is a fixed date to shop. We’re all guilty of rushing into the store with growling stomachs and making poor food choices. You can’t event wait to get home so you tear into the quick energy item you purchased at the store or in the car. Shopping on a whim, possibly when you’re hungry, can lead to a cart of extra unhealthy items not on your list so be sure to make it a habit to shop at a designated time each week.
Stock a Healthy Pantry: “Staples” differ for everyone. Staples are those things you like to have on hand to cook a favorite meal in a pinch. A few of my staples are quinoa, lentils, salsa, veggie broth, pesto, greens and eggs. Check out Whole Foods’ healthy pantry essentials list for ideas.
Handle With Care: There’s a few more steps after you return home and unpack your food. Store it thoughtfully and in a clean environment. This will extend the shelf life and make it easy to grab healthy foods quickly. If you have time prepare fruits and veggies. Yes, buying pre-cut veggies is easy but it’s also more expensive. The better you become at shopping and meal planning the more time you will have to prep for the week ahead. I often make a big meal (like soups or lasagna) on Sunday and save leftovers for lunches and busy nights during the week.
Now it’s time to get your plan on, stock up and cultivate your healthy shopping skills. You will be happy you did.