Never seem to find healthy food when you're hungry or haven't got time to spend ages cooking?
Try these strategies for having healthy food available when you need it.
They’ll help make planning your meals easy and stress-free.
One of the many important lessons I teach my clients:
If healthy food is conveniently around you, you’re more likely to eat it.
If you have a trusted system for making healthy food available, you don’t have to decide to eat well… you just do it.
The “food ritual”
Set aside a bit of time to prepare some healthy food in advance so that it’s ready, available, and convenient when you need it.
How you choose to ritualise healthy meal prep is up to you.
Here are some strategies that have worked well for my clients.
Option 1: The Sunday Ritual
You don’t have to do this on Sunday, obviously.
You can choose any day you like. It’s just that Sunday is often a time when people are more free, more relaxed, and more able to devote time to this type of task.
And it’s a time when we’re usually thinking ahead to the upcoming week.
Whatever day you choose, set aside 2-3 hours once a week to do the following:
Some people choose to prepare most of their meals for the week on Sundays.
Others prefer to figure out which meals will be easy to cook “in the moment” and save them for later, and only pre-prep meals for super busy times (such as lunches at work or dinner after a late meeting).
Do what works best for you, and your schedule.
If possible, give yourself a little extra buffer zone.
You never know what unexpected challenge might strike at 6pm on Wednesday, and when it does, you’ll be glad you stocked away an extra meal in the freezer.
Pack up ingredients and meals for easy storage in your freezer, fridge, or workspace.
Option 2: The Daily Ritual
You can combine the Sunday Ritual with the Daily Ritual — for example, by preparing the labour-intensive staples such as lean protein on Sunday, and then adding some quick-prep items (such as fruit and veggies) every day.
It often takes about as much time to prepare a few items as it does to prepare one.
For example, it’s nearly as fast to chop 3 carrots as it is to chop 1, or to boil 6 eggs instead of 2.
During the Daily Ritual, you can prep a few extra items to have on hand for later in the day, or the following day.
Try a Morning Ritual where you use some of these time-saving strategies to whip up a healthy breakfast or lunch:
Or try a Dinner Ritual where you simply make extra portions and save the rest for tomorrow.
Again, it doesn’t take much more time to prepare a few extra things, so cook in bulk where possible.
Option 3: Healthy meals made for you
Many supermarkets now offer a wide range of ready-meals. Think salad bars, pre-washed and cut vegetables, and individually-portioned lean protein.
There are also many specialty food store chains that offer healthy food takeaway and delivery.
You can even sign up for a healthy meal delivery service, if only for one or two meals a week. If you don’t enjoy cooking, or are extremely busy, you may find that having a break from the time and hassle of meal prep is worth the money. It might just mean the difference between a delicious, nourishing, physique friendly lunchtime salad and another regrettable fast-food run.
Google “healthy meal delivery” in your area and see what pops up.
Even if you prepare meals yourself, you could save yourself a trip to the supermarket by doing an online shopping order. It's also a great way to avoid getting tempted by other foods that often get pushed in your face in the supermarket, despite trying to avoid certain isles.
The bottom line: Do what works best for you — your life and your goals.
You can mix and match all of these food ritual options, in any way that works for you. Anticipate, plan, strategise.