Ok, so its not so much fun as it is good to do but being prepared sets you up for succeeding by offering you a positive choice. The old adage “when you fail to plan you plan to fail” can be changed when you have short cuts already in place.
Guideline #3: Being Prepared by Planning ahead!
A year ago I never would’ve seen myself being this prepared; having cut up veges, washed apples and single portion chicken in the freezer. I would’ve been haunting my pantry and doing multiple runs to the grocery store…but when I got smart and realized there is a better way to eat I found that being prepared is the only way to go!
Strategy #1–Pick a day of the week when you have a little bit of time and try to plan out your main meals for the next week. Believe me it takes practice, and you may find yourself eating the same things over and over but starting to do it is what counts. Have ‘backup meals’ in case your plans go haywire. Make up a grocery list and buy anything you don’t have on hand. No last minute shopping if possible (you’ll save on your grocery bill big time!)
This is something my daughter made for me so I can plan out meals and exercise against my commitments. This has been the result of several revisions but it may not work for you–simply design one that fits better–if you like it, you’ll be more apt to use it!
Strategy #2 —Once you have a general plan of your main meals you can start prepping. Things I try to have ready to go? Cleaned and cut up carrot slices, red and green peppers and celery–these are great for snacks with hummus, peanut butter or salsa and make stirfries quick as can be.( I find its easier to pass up on chips if these are available.) Wash apples, grapes and other fruits so you can just eat them. Have bananas on hand; slice them and stick in the freezer for smoothies or ‘banana ice cream‘. Strawberries can be cleaned and frozen as well for smoothies. If you are a salad person try setting up salads so you can just grab one and have it for a quick lunch or meal–I find if I have to start from scratch for each salad I don’t make them at all.
You can do prep with protein as well. I try to buy family portions of boneless chicken breast and freeze them in individual freezer bags. This way you can just take out the portions you need instead of defrosting the whole package. Depending on how much you use it, you can cook 3-4 breasts in a crockpot and then shred them so they are ready to go in enchiladas or ‘pulled chicken’. I normally cook them plain but you can season them with taco seasoning or other flavors depending on how you plan to use them. I make lean beef burgers ahead of time by also buying the 3-4 pound pack of lean beef, measuring out portions, forming patties and storing in the freezer–no more fatty patties to sabotage your efforts! You can use your imagination to what you will actually use and eat if it were readily available.
Strategy #3–Make and store ” reheatables”. Oatmeal, chili, stews, lasagna–pretty much anything you can make ahead and then freeze or use in the next few days. These are also know as “Planned Leftovers”
As you know, I love oatmeal and I tend to make either the ‘overnight refrigerator oatmeal’ in warmer weather (eat cold) or the Crockpot oatmeal in cooler weather (which re-heats nicely). My husband laughs because I tend to store my portions in mason jars when I can so I just can grab one and know it is ready to go.
But do these things actually work? Is it worth the time planning and prepping? Yes! It drives me crazy when it gets around to dinner time and I have no idea what to have. I try to have a well stocked pantry with broth, beans, brown rice/pastas and a good selection of veges in the fridge/freezer, but planning ahead–its just so much easier than trying to throw something together. Try it for a week or two and see if it works for you.
Let me know what Strategies you use to make your eating meals easier and healthy ~Janice