Eating a balanced diet doesn’t need to be labor-intensive. With planning and being efficient with shopping, you can save your mola and feel good. Here I am highlighting some how-tos on eating home-cooked meals, catered to those looking after blood sugar control, which in a way, relates to everyone.
“If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.” Sketch out 7 days and plot 2-3 meals, based on real food, plus snacks (if needed). Intend to make surplus for the meals so you have leftovers. Looking at your calendar:
- Do you have plans for meals out this week? Will you need to pack any meals for school/work/appointments? For the latter, can you make things or buy items that can easily be eaten as is, or cooked in the microwave?
- How many people are you responsible for feeding?
- Do you have any long days or night errands to run? You will need something portable
- Make a grocery list with meals in mind and use ingredients that can come from the freeezer or pantry, in the scenario your schedule changes. No one likes throwing money away.
A French man once said he walked into a North American grocery store and couldn’t find any food.
What? Well, if you think about and roam the aisles and food labels enough, you will find that this certain man is onto something. A majority of our packaged food is not real food. Just this morning I rant to the grocery and reviewed a dozen products and set them right back down because of cheap, unhealthy ingredients listed on them such as GMO beets (sugar), canola oil (very inflammatory), food colorings, chemicals, HFCS, more sugar, MSG, artificial sweeteners, BHA/BHT, nitrates, sulfates, the list goes on. Yet, my point is, know what is good for you and have an idea of where to get it.
Put together a grocery list before you head out. Ideally capture it on your phone. We often leave home without a list, but rarely forget our phone. Review your list before you go, and make sure the items you plan to buy, reflect the volume of foods you want on your plate. For example, if you intend to have half a plate of vegetables, make sure you buy enough vegetables. Same for protein, make sure your cart is about 25-30% of animal protein and 25-30% of fruit, grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables.
Additional ways to save and simplifiy:
- Look at ads, use coupon apps available on smartphones
- Buy ingredients, not products
- By produce in season, when cheapest
- Grow your own vegetables/herbs
- Never overeat and see how the quality of food, not volume, makes you feel satisfied (intuitive eating)
- Cook in bulk and freeze portions for leftovers
- Buy in bulk, and choose ingredients that can used in multiple dishes
- Buy whole, canned wild fish or frozen fish
- Buy fruits and vegetables frozen (just as healthy, if not more healthy)
- Buy cheaper cuts of meat and slow-cook it to tenderize it.
- Don’t major in minor things. Focus on buying real food and don’t stress if you can’t get organic or grass-fed
- Avoid foods void in nutrition, which can simply just increase appetite. For example, gluten-containing grains, sugar, processed food, granola bars
- Cut out the extras – bottled water, mints, etc
- Keep food simple, yet, have variety so your palate doesn’t get bored.
Food prep can be therapeutic; especially when you look at it as a time to unwind and forget about stressors. We need to unplug, to recharge. Set aside time, one time a week, to prep meals so when you come rushing in the door, or out, you have something nutritious to quickly reheat or consume within a short window of time.
- Frittata – these are great, and can be made in advance, sliced and heated or chilled for a well-rounded breakfast or lunch. The ingredients do not need to be elaborate. Choose some produce, lean meat and spices.
- Slow-cooker Chicken Vegetable Soup
- Salad with Tuna – as simple as it sounds. When I was on the road a lot with work, I would run to the grocery before Monday AM, pick up a bag of lettuce greens, canned tuna, eggs (then hard boil them) and some other type of produce, and throw it all together for 3 lunches or so a week.
- Lettuce Tacos – buy some lean meat, mix some spices and throw it over some vegetables or romaine leaves. Leftover meat is great with eggs too.
- Grilled Fish and Frozen Veg with spices – buy some frozen fish in bulk, pull out however many filets you need in the morning, thaw in the refrigerator, and cook in a skillet with some lemon, butter and pepper and pair with a vegetable.
- No-bread Sandwiches
- Snack options, including portable food ideas
- Scrambled Eggs and Ham – simple, cheap and satisfying.
- Banana Pancakes – take 2 eggs and one small banana, mash, and make 2 pancakes.
Real change is not easy, but it is worth it.
Cheers to you and good health,