While I do my fair share of cooking in the house, I don’t usually prepare meals in advance, although I’ll grill enough chicken or salmon, or make a large enough salad to last a few days.
Let’s be honest, it does take time to prepare meals, time that you might rather just spend relaxing, reading a book, or watching some TV. There’s really no way around it, short of hiring a personal chef or having one of the online healthy food services deliver a box of frozen meals for the week to your front door.
The Smart Way
The smart way to do it is to set aside a couple of hours on a Sunday and prepare meals for the week that you can either freeze or put in containers. By having fresh, healthy food, that’s ready to eat, you reduce the number of decisions you have to make, which lowers your stress level and helps to keep your will power or self-control reservoirs full.
Plus, you’re less likely to grab the kind of snack that you shouldn’t be eating (of course, that type of food shouldn’t be in your house in the first place). Remember, one of our goals is to make good behavior easier.
The benefit of spending a couple of hours on a Sunday or whichever day is easiest for you is that you know you’ll be eating clean, healthy food for the rest of the week.
Shopping At The Market
The first thing to do, before going to the market, is take inventory of everything that you currently have in the fridge, freezer, or pantry. Decide on which staples you want to have on hand. I usually stock up on berries, apples, carrots, celery, kale or some other greens for salads, and yams or sweet potatoes from the produce section. Then I head for the dairy section for cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, eggs, string cheese, and shredded cheese. Then it’s off to the meat section for chicken, fish, ground turkey, and a little beef and pork. I’ll grab some almonds as well.
You’ll notice that what I’ve done at this point is to “perimeter shop.” Next I’ll hit the frozen section for vegetables and turkey burgers. But I make it a point to look at the ingredient list to make sure that there isn’t anything more than just peas or broccoli, or turkey breast, or other natural ingredients in the package. I try to avoid chemicals and preservatives at all cost and believe it or not, there are plenty of frozen foods where the item you’re buying is the only ingredient.
Then it’s off to the canned section where I’ll pick up some chunk light tuna in water (not oil, and not albacore because of mercury), along with a variety of beans. I’ll also pick up some hummus.
When You Get Home
Here’s a smart thing to do when you get home and a real time saver- as you put the food away, keep the vegetables and fruit out, wash them all, and slice the ones that you want to slice and store them in containers either for snacks or to add to your other foods. Do the same with garlic and onions, if you like those.
Hard boil some eggs and start cooking your entrees. When you’re finished, put everything in the fridge. Now, throughout the week, all you need to do is grab various combinations of things to make salads, wraps, main courses, add some spices, heat it up and you’re ready to eat.
Finding Healthy Recipes
If you do a search online for something like “creating healthy meals that don’t take a lot of preparation” or some version of that, there are tons of websites with recipes and ideas for you. It’s not that hard and the benefits are enormous.
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