If you feel crunched for time, you may push food to the bottom of the list because it seems like there aren't enough hours in the day to shop, prepare, cook, and then sit down to eat.
Believe it or not, this excuse actually makes you less effective in your daily life! Food fuels everything we do, and if we choose not to give ourselves good fuel then we run less efficiently.
If you make the time to care for yourself then you will have the energy to get more done and do better work.
But when you hardly have time to breathe in the midst of your existing routines and responsibilities, how can you fit healthy eating into your schedule? The truth is that you can't, unless you put systems in place to help yourself out.
In order to consistently create time for healthy meals and snacks, you need a set of steps that can be repeated over and over to promote efficiency.
Try this simple system to make fueling yourself part of your weekly routine:
- List 10 non-starchy vegetables that you enjoy eating (ex: broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, spinach, kale, etc.
- List 10 proteins that cook quickly (ex: thin cuts of meat or fish, eggs, canned beans)
- List 10 starches or starchy vegetables (ex: corn, sweet potato, whole grain pasta)
- Create 7 quick dinner ideas, one for each night of the week, by mixing and matching one item from each category; there are hundreds of combinations just using the foods in your three lists!
- Start your grocery list by adding all the dinner items you selected, then fill in foods for breakfast and lunch along with anything that ran out during the week
- Organize your list by sections of the grocery store--such as produce, dairy and meat, dry and canned, frozen--to streamline your time shopping
- Make one grocery trip for the week using your shopping list; think of how much time you'll save if you currently pick up just a few things multiple times per week!
- Set aside a half hour each night to cook the food you bought; most of the foods on your list will cook within ten minutes in a saute pan on the stove, and really need nothing more than olive oil, salt and pepper to taste fresh and delicious
- When you prepare something that takes more time, such as baked potatoes or brown rice, always cook extra--then you can enjoy your leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day to have healthy food ready to go with no cook time!
- Repeat these steps each week using the same three lists you started with, but try creating new mix-and-match meals for variety