Another holiday season has flown by, and poof! It’s January already. And yes, it may be cliché to form New Year’s resolutions, but reflecting on your habits and trying to improve your health is a good thing to do no matter what time of year it is. So add the following resolution to your list: I hereby resolve to stick to my healthy eating resolutions. “Now what?” you may wonder. Here are some helpful, healthful suggestions on keeping your resolutions.
Moments of weakness are more likely to occur when there’s lack of a plan. Consider this scenario: It’s Thursday, and you’ve just arrived home from a long day of work. You look in your refrigerator and see that you have food, but you’re not sure what to make. You’re incredibly hungry, and frankly, you’re tired of making decisions. In this scenario, you’re likely to end up ordering takeout food or just eating a bowl of cereal because you don’t have the energy to be creative or make decisions.
Now, consider a similar scenario. It’s Thursday, you’re still tired and really hungry, but earlier in the week you wrote down a nightly plan for dinner for the entire week. You’ve got the recipe and all the ingredients. There’s no need to make a decision, so you focus your remaining energy on making the meal.
By creating a weekly meal plan, you create moments of strength for yourself that help you stick to your eating resolutions in advance. Additionally, you make purposeful healthy food choices while grocery shopping and eliminate the “maybe I’ll need this” moments that add cost to your cart and weight to your waist.
Do you have a friend who is also trying to eat more healthy foods this year? Give that person a call and see if they would be willing to plan two weeks of the month while you plan the other two. Not only will you cut your planning in half, but you’ll probably learn new recipes and create new memories with your friend.
Have you ever noticed that folding laundry or washing dishes is way more fun when you’re talking on the phone or watching a show? Cutting, chopping, and preparing ingredients for meals are parts of the cooking process that really don’t require much thought – other than making sure you’re handling the knife safely. It’s also true that making sure a meal is ready on time for your family to eat adds stress to the entire process. So this year, why not eliminate that stress and simultaneously take advantage of the opportunity to use meal prep as a time to relax?
First, pick a day and time of the week when you can work uninterrupted for an hour or two. For some people, it may be Sunday nights; for others, it may be Wednesday afternoons. Once you have a day picked out, backtrack and figure out a time to plan your meals for the week and go grocery shopping. For example, if you can do your prep work for the week on a Wednesday afternoon, you can meal plan on Sunday and grocery shop on Tuesday.
Next, gather your storage materials. Since you’ll be preparing ingredients for an entire week, you’ll need a decent amount of storage containers or bags. If you’re worried about mixing up ingredients, you can use dry erase markers to temporarily label containers. Once you’ve prepped all the food, you can group the ingredients for a particular meal together in your refrigerator and/or pantry by using a plastic container or a small baking sheet.
Before you being chopping, know what you want to do while you work. Think about what activity would make you most happy. Do you wish you had more time to talk to your friends? Here’s an opportunity! Feel like you never have time to read anymore? Download some audio books. Miss knowing what’s going on in the world? Subscribe to your favorite podcasts.
By scheduling time to prepare your meals, you’ll not only ensure that you stick to your weekly meal plan, but you’ll be more like to eat healthy and be less stressed out trying to do so. Having a set time of the week to catch up with your best friend? Bonus!
Make New Friends
There’s an old Girl Scout song that goes, “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” Take the fresh start of the New Year and your healthy eating resolutions to find some fresh foods. Nobody likes to eat the same old foods over and over again, no matter how good they are for our bodies.
Give your taste buds something to get excited about by finding new fruits and vegetables to bring home and incorporate into your meals. But don’t just go to the grocery store and buy the weirdest item! If you do that, chances are you’ll just end up staring at it for a week before you throw it away. Rather, make it a point to find a recipe using this new piece of produce and incorporate that recipe into your weekly meal plan. That way, you’ll have a purpose behind the purchase.
It’s a secret craftsmen know: its half talent, half cooking tools. Yes, you develop cooking chops by, well, chopping. But using a quality knife for chopping is an important part of the process as well. With that in mind, consider the kinds of meals you prepare most frequently. Better yet, after a few weekly meal plans, take an inventory of the kitchen tools you used most often and which tools you needed but didn’t own.
Once you’ve conducted your own kitchen inventory, consider the tools that will help you prepare your meals faster and easier. As with meal planning and establishing a designated prep time, having the right tools will make your cooking and baking experience less stressful, more streamlined, and more enjoyable.