When it comes to thriving in our health and wellness goals, healthy eating is at the top of the list. But with the demands of life, work and family, the best intentions to prepare a nutritious dinner or pack a healthy work lunch can easily fall at the wayside because something else demands our time and priority.
The good news is that there’s an easy solution. Follow this simple step-by-step routine every week and healthy whole foods will regularly fill your plate.
Step 1: Mark it in your calendar
Consistent healthy eating requires commitment. Set yourself up for success by making a date with yourself each week to plan your meals, grocery shop and prep food for the week. For example, meal plan on Thursday, shop on Friday and prep on Sunday.
Just like planning your workouts ensures you get your fitness in, making time in your calendar for meal planning tasks will ensure you’ve got healthy food at the ready all week long. Mark it in your calendar and stick to the schedule.
Step 2: Make a plan that syncs to your schedule
Without a plan, eating well doesn’t happen. If you haven’t planned what to eat and you’ve only got 15 minutes to cook, convenience will win—and the convenient choice usually isn’t the healthiest choice.
Instead, make a plan that works for your schedule. Review your commitments and time demands for the week. Then, plot out meal solutions and options that you know you can prepare with the time you have available in your schedule. Make sure you include snacks so you have healthy options on hand.
Step 3: Grocery shop once a week
While you’re creating your meal plan and have all of your recipes and meal ideas in front of you, make a grocery list. By completing all of your shopping for the week at one time, you’ll make less trips to the grocery store—saving you time and money. You’ll also eat healthier, homemade food more often and reduce the amount of food waste in your kitchen.
Be sure you stick to the list. Limit yourself to no more than one or two impulse purchases that will derail your healthy eating goals.
Step 4: Wash and store your produce when you get home from the store
Fresh fruit and vegetables will be ready for snacking when hunger strikes if you follow this easy step. Cut vegetables and store in water-filled mason jars, shred lettuce for salads and spiralize vegetables. Meal prep will also be quicker and easier because all of your ingredients will be ready to cook when you need them.
Step 5: Batch cook on the weekend
Batch cooking is a type of meal prep where you prepare either parts of several meals or complete meals to eat later in the week. The goal is to reduce the amount of prep you’ll have to do on a daily basis and ensure you have healthy, homemade food ready to go. What you cook and how much you cook depends on your schedule, how much help you need during the week and how much time you have to batch cook.
When done consistently, batch cooking can reduce the amount of time you spend in the kitchen, help you lose weight, and simplify your life. Review the recipes in your meal plan and identify ingredients that can be prepped ahead of time, such as roasted vegetables, marinated proteins, grains, sauces and dressings. It will be faster and easier to meal prep your meals with a few things ready in advance.
Repeat these five steps every week to create a weekly routine that becomes a healthy eating practice.