“Do this one thing” is a recurring blog theme where I discuss simple things that you can do will help you on your journey to a healthier, stronger and leaner you. The first entry in this series was on breakfast and can be read here.
Today I’m going to focus on the idea of planning your meals ahead of time. It really is quite simple: if you don’t plan ahead you will most likely either end up eating fast food or not eating at all. Either way, neither of these are a good way to go and will set you back in your fitness goals.
I know, I know, I know that the notion of planning meals ahead of time seems like it’s impossible and just can’t be done. But it is actually really simple and easy to do. I’ll give you an example of how it can be done.
First of all, it’s a good idea to eat some of the same things fairly frequently. Find a few options that you like for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a couple snacks. Then eat them most of the time. This has two huge advantages.
1. It takes the thinking out of things. It makes grocery shopping a lot easier as well as makes it easy when you’re trying to figure out what to pack for lunch or make for breakfast.
2. You can do any cooking in bulk. If you like a big spinach salad with grilled chicken for lunch, then grill enough chicken at one time to last you all week instead of cooking it 3 or 4 times throughout the week.
Maybe the idea of eating the same things often doesn’t appeal to you. I say suck it up. I’ve been eating cottage cheese and greek yogurt for a long long long time. Some days I really like it, others I can hardly choke it down. Just keep this in mind: the point of eating is not to find something absolutely delicious to eat, it’s to fuel the body and give it the nutrients we need. We too often focus on “how good does it taste?”, and too little on “what good does it do me?”
I usually do some bulk cooking on Sunday evenings in preparation for the week. Last night, as I was packing my meals for today, it struck me at how much of a common thing that has become for me. In fact, I don’t really think about it much anymore, I just do it. Every night, I pack my meals for the next day. And it really does take very little time to do.
Here’s what I packed last night:
From left to right: chocolate protein powder in milk, baked chicken and 1 oz. of colby jack cheese, a handful of almonds, cottage cheese and peach greek yogurt, 3 tbsp natural peanut butter, 2 slices of whole wheat bread, 1 Flatout wrap and 1 banana.
This gives me 3 meals (chicken and cheese in a wrap; cottage cheese, greek yogurt and almonds; peanut butter and banana sandwich) and 1 snack (protein shake).
Aside from cooking the chicken last night, the whole process of packing these meals took maybe 7 minutes. Very little time investment for setting myself up to eat incredible healthy the following day. And to be honest, how hard is cooking chicken? I had to take it out of the freezer to defrost the night before, that’s maybe 8 seconds. (17 if I get confused as to what I’m doing.) Then I had to put it into the oven yesterday and set my timer. Again, maybe another 20 seconds or so. The most time consuming part was cutting it into strips which took a few minutes-tops. And this gives me enough for 3-4 meals for the week.
I really can’t stress how simple this is to do. Yeah, at first it may seem a bit more challenging, but do it a few times and you’ll see it really isn’t a big deal. Establishing little habits like this can really go a long way in reaching your fitness goals.
So make a plan. Find some easy options for meals. Do any prep work in bulk on the weekends when you have more time. Then throw some ingredients in some Tupperware and go. Yes, it’s that easy.