The second step on our Pyramid of Importance, which we introduced in our Intro to Nutrition denotes the idea of making sure you plan and prepare your meals appropriately. Doing yourself a favour and creating the best eating habits outside meal time is a top tip we have to introduce. Meal prep is going to be your best friend. When you’re tired and hungry but can’t be bothered to cook something that will fuel you properly.
As with our first element, we may be teaching you how to suck eggs but you’d be surprised how easy it is to let these elements slip.
Plan And Prepare
“Failure to plan is preparing to fail” is a common phrase that can easily be applied to our nutrition. Planning and preparing meals can have a lot of advantages including saving time, portion control, reducing the stress of last-minute cooking and avoiding unhealthy choices when tired from a long day! Not only that but your nervous system prepares for digestion during the preparation phase of a meal – the smell of ingredients stimulates salivation and in essence, it literally relaxes you.
You probably see social media influencers with lavishly prepared meals all laid out nicely, ready for the week and think to yourself ‘I wish I could do that’. Well, here are a few simple ways that you can plan and prepare ahead to help your week go more smoothly.
Start by just setting yourself a menu for the week. Pick some meals, write yourself a shopping list, go and buy the stuff on the list (and just the stuff on the list). By doing this you will save yourself the hassle and stress of trying to decide what to eat last minute.
You’ll know what’s for dinner in advance and having the ingredients already in the house making healthy choices easily accessible. If you stick to your shopping list you can avoid having less healthy choices in the house, helping you make better dietary decisions.
The second thing we can do is actually prepare meals in advance. This can be a great time saver for people with busy lives as well as saving you a lot of bother at a later stage. If we look at your time & energy like an old school phone battery with everything you do using up bars on this ‘battery’.
During a weekday, you have to work all day, zoom meetings, deadlines etc. which all take up a significant amount of your battery.
Factor in sorting out the kids, walking the dog, keeping the house tidy. Come the end of the day your battery is almost drained. Do you really want to be using those last few bars to cook a meal and then clean up as well?
At the weekend, your battery is probably a lot fuller; now would be a great time to use a couple of energy bars to pre-cook a few meals ready for the week ahead. Try cooking meals that are easy to cook in bulk, chillies, casseroles and stir-frys are good options.
If you don’t fancy spending your time off cooking food then another extremely straightforward option would be to just cook extra. You’re already getting the pan dirty right? So why not chop up a few extra veggies, throw in some extra chicken breast or tofu and cook twice as much saving the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. It might be worth investing in a slightly bigger pan.
Planning and preparing food in advance doesn’t have to be rocket science. Just taking some small steps can make your nutrition a lot more efficient and stress-free, as well as allowing you to keep better control of your energy balance.