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21 Days of Self-Care: Day 17 - Plan and Prepare for Meals of Awesome

Imagine a really awesome, healthy, delicious meal. It’s full of nutritious whole foods, all your “green light” stuff. You take your time, sitting down and really enjoying that meal. When you’re done, you feel satisfied, and maybe even virtuous.

Now imagine if every meal was like that; what would you need to do to make that happen?

Eating well doesn’t happen by accident. All it takes is planning, and preparing. So reverse engineer your Meal of Awesome – work backwards to see the steps it takes to get there.

Everyone’s Meal of Awesome is a little different. Maybe you like variety, or maybe you like routine. Maybe you like things you can make in bulk and freeze for later. Maybe you already have some go-to meals you love; take what you already do and what works for you, and do more of that.

The planning stage may involve some shopping, for fresh foods or to stock up your pantry. Maybe you need some equipment to help you out, like dusting off the Crock Pot or blender, investing in a quality chef’s knife, or some new containers for pre-prepped food or leftovers. (Please throw out those old margarine tubs, and the margarine that came in them.)

Once you have your plan (what you need for your Meal of Awesome), think about preparing. Preparing doesn’t have to happen every single time, right before every single Awesome Meal. (This is where planning and preparing intersect a little.) What can you prep ahead of time to make that Meal of Awesome appear as if by magic? Some ideas:

  • Chop veggies for stir-fries, soups, chili, or to eat raw. You can also buy prewashed, pre-chopped or baby veggies.

  • Cook bulk protein like ground beef, chicken, or tofu. Boil up a bunch of eggs.

  • Make a large quantity of easily-frozen or refrigerated dishes such as soups, stews, and chili.

  • Do some extra food prep while you're waiting for something else to cook.

  • Make extra of whatever you're cooking for any given meal.

In ordinary times, a lot of people would say “I don’t have time to shop/prep/cook and slowly eat and enjoy that meal” (no matter how Awesome). To that I say: check back with your time diary. Is there a time-sucker that you could pare back, to make time for that Meal of Awesome? Which is adding more value? An hour spent on advance food prep, maybe one weekend day, may be worth 5 hours of free time during the week.

It’s easier to have healthier meals with a little more planning and preparing. Remember the corollary to Berardi’s First Law? Having something healthy prepped and ready to go helps. Compare staring into the fridge when you’re tired and hungry and having a pre-prepped Meal of Awesome stare back at you, vs. staring into an empty fridge and then meandering over to the “snack cabinet”.

Remember, healthy eating doesn’t happen by accident. It’s about being prepared, and figuring out a system that works for you, your goals, your lifestyle, the meals you enjoy, and your schedule. Focus on planning ahead, not perfection. Try to put yourself in control of your choices.

Information for this post is sourced from my nutrition coaching program, powered by Precision Nutrition's ProCoach platform.

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