By: Leo Desforges
One of the simplest ways is to improve the quality of food you’re eating is to prepare more food at home. Whether you are looking to lose body fat, gain muscle, improve energy levels, sharpen mental focus, sleep better, or any combination, eating appropriate amounts and types of food will need to be your number one priority.
Most of the clients whom I work with generally know how to “eat better,” and I’m sure that most reading this article have at least a general idea about which foods are healthier and which are not. Where most folks get stuck is with actually eating the foods they know they want to eat. There is an abundance of reasons why this happens, and I will argue that a lack of preparation is high on the list. Shopping for and cooking your own food will help dramatically. And, unless you spend all of your waking hours at home, this will mean you will have to prepare some of your meals in advance and take them with you. This article will offer some tips on achieving this goal.
Food Preparation 101:
Set aside 2-3 hours on your least busy day of the week to do all of your grocery shopping and food preparation for the week. Although this seems like a lot of time, it will save you tons of time throughout the week, save money, and help you eat better food.
First, create a weekly shopping list and keep it stored on your smart phone or in a notepad. The list should be composed of healthy, basic foods in adequate amounts for the week. What the list looks like will be different for every individual/family, but ultimately it should consist of some combination of vegetables, fruit, simple grains, meat, dairy, fish and basic condiments and spices. (You could do this right now.) If you are following a specific diet, you sure as heck should have all of the necessary foods to be successful on your plan. When creating this list, include only foods that you want to eat. If you buy ice cream, cookies, or whatever treat you’re trying to eat less of, you are sabotaging yourself. (If, on the other hand, you are one of those people who has ice cream go bad due to disinterest, feel free to pick up ice cream.) This is where the shopping list is so helpful: If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t go in the shopping cart. This strategy alone will save you a tremendous amount of willpower throughout the week as you will not have tons of temptation at home. Anyone who has seen my incredibly lame pantry will know that I practice this strategy! I enjoy some less nutritious foods a few times a week (at special occasions or as a treat), but I spend very little willpower resisting them at home. It has helped our family tremendously.
Second, when you get home from the grocery store, precook lunches and basic dinner staples for the week. For my wife and me, this might mean sautéing a few pounds of onions and garlic and putting them in a Tupperware container for use in recipes later in the week. We’ll often bake five to 10 pounds of potatoes one night and reheat them throughout the week or make 10 servings of rice. We might also cook three pounds of chicken thighs or prepare a slow cooker dish like chili or pulled chicken. My wife hard-boils a dozen eggs, peels them, and keeps them in a Tupperware container for use as breakfast. Having some simple nutritious snacks is always incredibly helpful, too. Chopping up some vegetables into sticks and preparing some Greek yogurt-based dipping sauces are a great option for snacking before dinner. We try to set ourselves up for a successful week, so that when the busyness sets in, healthy food becomes an easy choice and not a nuisance.
Another option is to cook double portions of dinner so that you’ll have a lunch prepared for the whole family the next day. Once dinner is cooked, place the extra portions into spill-proof containers to take to work/school the next day.
These are just a few of the ways that food preparation helps to reduce stress and create healthier eating habits at the same time. I would highly recommend trying one of these methods for the next month and seeing if it helps you, too.