I remember reading my favorite Peter Walsh book, Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat, and being struck by Peter’s connection to life clutter (stuff, time, commitments, mental clutter) and our health and weight. How can you be healthy and plan meals if you cannot find your kitchen countertops, keep a calendar, have clean exercise clothes, or have healthy food in the house? It totally makes sense, right?
He also noted that you should always know where your next meal is coming from. That got me thinking as I am one who always knows when and what I’ll be eating next! (In fact, lunch is coming up in a few minutes!) But I thought it was a bad thing to be thinking about it so much. Peter feels it is beneficial because you’ll be less likely to eat junk, fast food, or not at all, if you have a plan for your next meal. How right he is!
Getting together a meal plan and cooking regularly is not as daunting as it might seem. Here are a few steps you get you started.
- Take a look at the upcoming week and determine which days you or someone else in the house will be able to cook a meal. (If you don’t see how you would have time to cook ever, you might just want to call me now! But seriously, there are ways to make it happen.)
- Write out a list of meals you will make on those days. (To me, this is the hardest part….what’s for dinner?) There are a number of things you can do to make this simple. Create a list of 5-10 rotating, easy but healthy meals that you make during the week. On weekends, you can mix in a fun, new dish that might take a little more time to prepare or go out to dinner. Another way to make the meal selection process easier is to start up a list of dishes you typically cook. When you’re meal planning, you can “shop” for meals from this list.
- Write your shopping list based on your meal plan and go get the food. I have the Out of Milk app on my phone so I have my list at all times!
- Watch a few episodes of 30-Minute Meals on Food Network! Rachel Ray, whether you love her or not, HAS to be all about being organized and simple to cook this quickly. She gets all her ingredients out at once, chops items only once (even if they are in multiple parts of the meal), dump all the scraps into a bowl for fast clean up, gets the longer cooking dishes going first, etc.
- Get your dinner underway as soon as you arrive home. Oftentimes, recipes have a short time where you can leave them unattended and go change out of your work clothes, get the mail, etc.
- Use healthy shortcuts where possible. Examples would be prepared salad mixes, pre-cut fresh veggies, frozen veggies, shredded packaged cheese, whole cooked chickens, and pre-cut fresh meat.
- Read through the whole recipe before you start. I learned this one from a cooking class I took. The chef would give us a hard time if we had not read it first! You will be less likely to make a mistake and you can be more efficient if you know what’s coming next.
- Plan ahead for busy weekdays where no one can cook or a family member will be eating at a different time. I do this by making extras of meals that are easily freezable. On days I can’t cook, I pull out a frozen soup, stew or baked pasta, for example, and serve it with a salad or bread. Leftovers from earlier in the week can also fill the void for a missing family member.
- Take what you need out of the freezer each evening for tomorrow’s meal.
Have any great ways to cook healthy food daily? Which tips will you try? Check back soon for kitchen organizing tips!