3 key strategies for having healthy food available when you need it.
These make meal planning a no-brainer.
An important lesson to learn about nutrition –
Keep it simple. Think less. Make fewer decisions. Let your environment do much of the work for you.
If healthy food is around you and convenient, you’re more likely to eat it. If you have a trusted system for making healthy food available, you don’t have to decide to eat well… you just show up and do it.
Enter the “food ritual”.
No, this ritual doesn’t include lamb’s blood or any special Kool Aid.
It just means you set aside a bit of time to prepare some healthy food in advance so that it’s ready, available, and convenient when you need it.
How you choose to ritualize healthy meal prep is up to you. Here are some strategies that have worked well.
Option 1: The Sunday Ritual
You don’t have to do this on Sunday, of course. You can choose any day you like.
It’s just that Sunday is often a time when people are more free, more relaxed, and more able to devote time to this type of task. And it’s a time when we’re usually thinking ahead to the upcoming week.
Whatever day you choose, set aside 2-3 hours once a week to do the following.
- Look ahead to your upcoming schedule and see what’s happening. What nutrition challenges or opportunities might pop up? Where might you need some special preparation in advance? What are the quiet and busy times? Etc.
- Come up with a general menu for at least the next few days. It doesn’t have to be anything in-depth. Just get a basic sense of the food you might need to have on hand for the week ahead.
- Build your shopping list from your menu. This will help you be as effective and efficient as possible when you hit the grocery store, and you’ll be less tempted to buy random (and non-goal-supporting) things.
- Hit the grocery store. Stock up on what you need for the week. Consider grabbing a few extra “just in case” emergency items as well, such as canned beans, frozen vegetables, or other easily-stored healthy options that you can use in a pinch.
- Once you’re back home, start prepping and cooking. Whip up a batch of lean protein — for example, by grilling or roasting several chicken breasts/thighs at once. Try some one-pot meals that can be easily cooked in a slow cooker, then divided into containers to be frozen or refrigerated, such as soups, stews, curries, chili, etc. Wash and chop veggies.
Option 2: The Daily Ritual
You can combine the Sunday Ritual with the Daily Ritual — for example, by preparing the labor-intensive staples such as lean protein on Sunday, and then adding some quick-prep items (such as fruit and veggies) every day.
It often takes about as much time to prepare a few items as it does to prepare one.
For example, it’s nearly as fast to chop 3 carrots as it is to chop 1, or to scramble 6 eggs instead of 2. During the Daily Ritual, you can prep a few extra items to have on hand for later in the day, or the following day.
Option 3: Healthy meals made for you
Many grocery stores — from your average Safeway or King Soopers to more upscale Whole Foods-type places — now offer a wide range of grab-and-go meals. Think salad bars, pre-washed and cut vegetables, and individually-portioned lean protein. There are also many specialty food store chains that offer healthy food takeout and delivery.
Some people even sign up for a healthy meal delivery service, if only for one or two meals a week. If you don’t enjoy cooking, or are extremely busy, you may find that having a break from the time and hassle of meal prep is worth the money. It might just mean the difference between a delicious, nourishing, physique-friendly lunchtime salad and another regrettable fast-food run.
Google “healthy meal delivery” and see what pops up.
The bottom line: Do what works best for you — your life and your goals.
You can mix and match all of these food ritual options, in any way that works for you. Anticipate, plan, strategize. This is the way of (what we call) the “PN warrior”. Have fun!
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15 Clean & Jerks 135/95#
*Rest 1 Minute after each round
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