What we eat matters.
But, “what to eat” typically isn’t the number 1 thing ‘holding us back’ or ‘frustrating us’ when it comes to nutrition.
The thing is, most of us actually kinda-sorta know what we should be eating.
Buuuuuttt, even though we kinda-sorta know what we should be eating, we still struggle with our food and eating habits. Which means we probably need help with our behaviours (as opposed to needing more nutritional knowledge).
According to Precision Nutrition, the most common nutrition problems can be summarised as follows: How do I stop overeating, and at the same time, find convenient, practical and satisfying ways to enjoy foods that best nourish my body?
Sound about right?
But also sounds like a pretty epic challenge to solve yeah?
The good news is, it’s solvable.
The not so good news, it’s not always easy to solve.
But heres a big tip to begin – don’t try and fix all your ‘problems’ at once hey?! That ain’t gonna work.
Today we’re just gonna focus on one…. and thats the one that got the most votes!
Nutritional Challenge #1: I Don’t Have Time To Prepare Meals!
Ooooo yes I soooooo hear this!!
Time is precious. Time is of the essence. Time is spent doing aaaalllll the things: working, commuting, caring for others, errands, driving children from here to there to everywhere, chores, life admin and more….
And let’s be honest: There may also be a lack of desire here too (ie. you might have the time to cook a meal but you lack the energy or desire to). And that’s okay!!
God knows on evenings I’m feeling spent, I’ll play the ‘I don’t have time‘ card and jump onto UberEats for a quick (and convenient) fix.
And if grabbing a little take away means I can sit down for 5minutes, or play with the toddler rather than yell at the toddler from the kitchen, or take a break from cooking and cleaning up for a night…. I’m all for it.
Don’t beat yourself up about it.
After all, health is not about perfection.
But how do go about improving?
If you’re making zero meals now, could you find time to make one meal each week?
Or if you’re making three, could you find time to make four?
If you can make just one extra meal, you’ll be taking a positive action to change your behaviour and improve your health.
Before we can make this change though, let’s consider actions that can help us deal with our hectic lifestyles!
1. Get your plan on!
Goes without saying really but planning is where we want to start. Planning a weekly MENU (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks) helps you plan your shopping list. And planning your weekly ROUTINE, helps you feel more in control with your meal prep. It aaalllll connects!
- PLAN YOUR MENU: Big tip for MENU planning is to be realistic. Think about what your week entails and choose meals that compliment you and your households schedule. For example, if you have a seriously hectic Tuesday, aim for a quick meal that night (Tip #4). Sometimes, it can actually be easier (and not as scary) to plan one or two days at a time.
- PLAN YOUR ROUTINE: It takes a bit of trial and error to find a system that works for you and your household. I have a WEEKEND routine, a WEEKDAY routine. The weekend routine pretty much stays the same from week to week (but is also flexible for those super busy weeks). The weekday routine changes depending on the day.
- WEEKENDS: We shop on Saturday morning and meal prep Sunday morning. We prepare one big hot dish – enough for 2-3 nights of dinners. We keep one serve in the fridge for Monday night and place two serves in the freezer. On busy weekends when we don’t get time to prep, we have back up meals in the freezer. If the freezer stores get low, we plan an extra big cook up one weekend.
- WEEKDAYS: On the day I head into ‘school’ to teach I prep my lunch the night before. This involves cutting up veggie sticks and packing dinner leftovers into my lunchbox. On the mornings I lead early morning BUF classes, I have simple breakfast options ready to go (ie. smoothies, baked beans, overnight oats etc). On the morning I don’t have to ‘rush’ out the door I make time to do a simple cook up (ie. mushrooms, tomato, capsicum and basil).
BUF Girls remember you can always give me a hola to chat more about this!! The trick is finding a system that works for you… and trust me… thats gonna look different to what works for me!
2. Put it in your calendar/diary!
We all know that if it’s not in the diary, it’s likely to be forgotten or treated as an ‘extra’. And when it’s treated like an ‘extra’, it’ll feel like it’s taking up time you don’t have. If it’s in the diary, you work around it.
Be realistic about it. There are definitely going to be weeks you won’t be able to schedule it in like you normally would. You know those weeks – they are the ones ALL the fun social events fall on. When it rains, it pours. That’s when a little back up plan (ie. meals stored in the freezer, or meal delivery box for couple of weeks) can seriously help!
3. Think simple and quick!
If dinner took an hour to make every night, everyone would be running out to grab fast food! That’s just not realistic. 15minute meals meals are much more realistic. Its also really handy to have 2-3 ‘go-to’ quick meals up your sleeve! Aim to keep the ingredients of these ‘go-to meals’ in stock in your pantry/freezer (see tip #6).
4. Keep more of ‘the good stuff’ in stock!
Take a closer look at your shopping list and how you stock your fridge, freezer and pantry. Do you literally just buy the food needed to make the meals you want to cook? Or do you aim to keep a stock of certain foods in the house at all times?
It makes sense that if you have ‘healthy’ foods in stock, you’re likely to eat healthy food more often. But, you also need to be able to turn these foods into quick and easy snacks or meals…. which is why you’ll often see me do a ‘mix up’ (if you follow my stories on instagram or facebook). I literally take a mix of whatever I’ve got, and throw it all together in a pan or salad bowl (depending on the weather/season). Simple. Effective.
Here’s a few ideas of things we like to keep in stock in our house most of the time:
- Fresh Vegetables to cook: Broccoli, cauliflower, beans, capsicum, sweat potato, beetroot, zucchini… whatever is in season.
- Fresh Vegetables for salads: cucumber, baby spinach, tomato, avocado
- Frozen Vegetables: Steamed veggie bags, roast veggie bags
- Canned veggies: Four bean mix, corn, beetroot, baked beans
- Frozen side dishes: Quinoa and brown rice
- Frozen protein: fish fillets (barramundi or salmon)
- Microwaveable brown rice and chia seed pots
- Cereals: Rolled Oats, Uncle Tobys Shredded Wheat, Sanitarium Weet-Bix, Be Natural Mini Bites
- Fruit: banana, apple, pear, melon… whatever is in season
- Dairy: Milk, Greek yoghurt, cheese, ricotta
- Bread (heres some tips on how to choose a healthy bread), Rice Cakes, Spelt pasta, brown rice, quinoa, Buckwheat flour, almond meal (great for making banana pancakes or zucchini fritters), and chia seeds
- Nuts (almonds & cashews), seeds & dried fruit (Cranberries & sultanas)
- Flavour adders: Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dukkah, dried herbs
** Two big tips for food shopping: have a list, and, don’t go shopping on an empty stomach!**
5. Keep berries, bananas, and greens in the freezer
I love having a couple of ‘ready to blend’ smoothie bags in the freezer. My go to is sliced banana + berries + spinach leaves. On busy mornings I just grab a bag out, add little hot water, milk of choice, scoop of BUF Girls protein powder, blitz and go!
Another way to do this is to make a big batch of smoothie on Sunday and freeze individual portions. You might like to try reusable bags like these.
6. Take advantage of healthy meal deliveries
A great option for many households! You don’t need to think of the menu, or the shopping list, or do the shopping…. and depending on the ‘service’ you get, the ingredients can all be measured out ready to go so you just need to chuck it all together (in the right order), or, the meals can be already made and you just need to heat and eat.
Personally I feel healthy meal deliveries are a great option for super hectic weeks/months…. but are not be a forever thing. But thats just me.
7. Use equipment wisely
Choose recipes that use time-saving kitchen equipment (like slow cookers) or are quick and easy one-pot meals. Slow cookers make for super simple dump and go meals. These are great recipes to ‘double up’ so you get a couple of meals prepped in one hit!
8. Cook once, eat thrice
Choose recipes with similar ingredients, so you make one main element on Sunday, then create three entirely different meals for the week. For example, make a batch of roasted veggies and toss them into a Farro Burrito Bowl, stack them onto Grilled Caponata Panini, and finish them off as a breakfast for dinner in a Grilled Vegetable Frittata. It’s a time and money saving hack you’ll love.
Got a time saving tip to offer? Share it in the comments below! We can learn so much from each others ideas and experiences!
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