I read a phrase in a magazine recently that I think sums up the formula for eating success. Three simple words should make up your strategy: Plan, Shop, Cook.
Planning is the hardest part, but also the most important step. Not having a plan for your weekly meals leaves you open to making bad choices. Making a plan for what, when, and how often you will eat helps minimize temptation.
- Plan “go to” snacks and breakfasts. These are the meals were I eat pretty much the same thing every day.
- Plan your dinners for the week every Saturday. Choose meals that are nutritious and make enough portions to provide lunches during the week.
- Plan your shopping list each week based on refilling pantry staples and fresh ingredients for your weekly menu.
The grocery store can be a dangerous place without your plan pre-work. Being armed with a shopping list of only those things you need prevents impulse junk food purchases and overspending. Do not stray from your list.
- Shop on a full stomach, not an empty one.
- Shop the perimeter of the store. This is where all the good stuff is, for example fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs, and yogurt. Occasionally you will need to venture into the middle aisles for things like oats and beans.
- Shop weekly to keep the pantry full and your meal plan in place.
The first two steps do not matter if you are not going to follow through by actually cooking a meal. My husband and I rarely go out to eat. However, most people we know depend on fast food or pizza delivery on a regular basis. If you are going to live the life of a healthy and fit person you can no longer be on a first name basis with the pizza guy. Cooking does not have to be stressful and it does not have to be fancy. If you plan and shop appropriately you can have dinner on the table quicker than your wait at the Olive Garden.
- Cook and prep on Sunday. Soups, casseroles, vegetables, rice, chicken, etc can all be prepared in bulk ahead of time. Placed in individual containers ahead of time you have made your own single serve meals, saving time and money.
- Cooking during the week does not have to be a complicated affair. Egg white omelets, stir frys, and other quick options provide healthy fresh meals in minutes.
- Cook – do not eat out. I think just about anything you cook at home with fresh ingredients were you control the portion size is better for you than a restaurant meal.