Eating is the EASY part.
As I move through my life trying to be healthy. Trying to stick to my grand plan. I have found that one important fact always remains true.
Eating is the easy part.
There, I said it. Seems crazy, but it’s true. Eating is the easy part. Planning, Shopping, Prepping, Portioning, Sauteing, Baking, Roasting, Browning, Cooking, Cooling, Packaging and of course the dreaded … Cleaning! Those are the hard bits. The parts that can trip you up. Forget an ingredient, plan something too arduous, burn the protein and you’re plan is curtains.
You may decide to eat out. But, When you eat out you have no control over what goes into your food. Where you might use a tiny bit of butter for flavor at home, a restaurant my use a large splat of butter. Or maybe you will opt for delivery. Pizza and Wings? Ok something quick because now I am starving and beginning to feel desperate. Peanut butter and Jelly? Wait no bread. Ok. How about that quart of Ben and Jerry’s in the freezer? I have to admit that I have used a Hersey’s bar as a spoon to eat Cherry Garcia. Delicious but not nutritious and really costly for calories.
You need to always have a plan B.
For me, my plan B is almost always eggs. I love eggs in every shape and form. I didn’t used to. But I gave eggs a chance Sam-I-am, Green Eggs and Ham. Always have a quick meal that you can make if something goes wrong. It needs to be made out of ingredients that you always have. Some candidates are Salad, Soup, Genius Fried Eggs, Tacos or Oatmeal. As you get more experience, you will start singling out recipes to be your plan B. Another alternative is to make a bit extra a few nights a week and throw it in the freezer. You can pull it out, heat it up and save the day. Having plan B takes some of the stress out of cooking, because you know that you have it covered.
Pick a day, any day or three.
Pick a day that you can devote to planning. It doesn’t matter what day or what time. It matters that you set aside dedicated time and use the same time every week to plan. I like to plan Friday nights. Yea I’m a real party animal! I picked Friday nights because I am trying to get out of work mode and I like thinking about the week ahead. I dedicate Friday night to planning, Saturday afternoon to shopping and Sunday to morning prepping. I have done all three on one day but it makes for a long day. So think about when you have an hour or less as you get better at it to plan your week.
One important thing that took me FOREVER to learn is that you can actually eat the same thing every day. It sounds crazy but if you commit to one lunch and one breakfast for your week, your life will be so much easier! You can change it up a bit, but trying to plan. shop and prep multiple breakfasts for multiple people is hard and I will proclaim that it is not necessary. Pick one thing like oatmeal or quiche for breakfast. You can add different things each day to customize it. But you just make one batch, economical and efficient. About half of you won’t believe me and will go off to plan the grand menu and honestly if you want to do it,you have the ability, then you should go for it. Come talk to me on your prep day.
Next you will need a few hours to shop. How long depends on where you prefer to shop and your particular style. Do you like to go to the farmers market? Do you hit the grocery store at a dead run and try to get through it like you are being chased by a pack of jackals? Do you enjoy your alone time at the grocery store and take your time to read every label? Are you dragging along unwilling victims that are going to have a tantrum 15 minutes in? You know your shopping habits the best, so you decide whether to set aside an hour or two. I need about an hour, unless I need to go to a specialty bakery for salted-rosemary bread or strawberry-champagne macaroons for my cheat day. Remember to add time in time for properly stowing your food. No use buying fresh herbs if they are going to be crushed in the back of the refrigerator where they dry up like unwanted sad little bits of former greatness. I usually take about 30-45 minutes to drag everything inside and stow it away properly.
Now you will need time set aside time for prepping. This is really the long part when you are first starting out. Once you get into a rhythm it’s not too bad. I co-opt my unwilling shopping victims, also known as my family, to help clean and chop. I usually do this on Sunday morning, so whatever I am having for breakfast during the week is the same thing I am having for breakfast Sunday Morning. I make a big batch and then enjoy a nice breakfast with my family. The calm before the storm.
After breakfast, I portion, package and label all of the breakfasts. Remember that you need to bring food to room temperature before you put it in your refrigerator. If you are planning to process a lot of food you may want to consider throwing some ice/ice packs into a cooler and using it for temporary storage and a place to cool your food before putting it in the refrigerator.
Ok, so breakfast in done! Next look at your lunch recipe(s). Chop and bowl all of your ingredients to make cooking easier. Professionals call this Mise en place. For each step in your recipe make a collection of ingredients. If in the first step you need to cook onions, peppers and mushrooms, you can clean, chop and put them all into a bowl. Do this for each step and then begin cooking. Smart Prep will help you stay on track. Next you will need to portion, package and label all of the lunches. Remember my tip for cooling meals before stuffing them in your refrigerator.
You may want to take some time now to prep for the week. You can bowl and store some of your ingredients that are durable and will last.
Now the easy part. Eat and enjoy.