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Back on Track

Last week at Henry Ford College’s Professional Issues Conference, I spoke with faculty about “Eating Practices to Promote Energy and Mental Clarity”. The presentation soon became a conversation about challenges and solutions to eating well at work. One of the underlying issues tying these challenges together is meal planning.

Meal planning has become the key factor in my family’s goal to not eat out for the month of January. If we don’t plan ahead, we’ll either eat out or we’ll make less balanced choices at home.

If we don’t plan ahead, we’ll either eat out or we’ll make less balanced choices at home.

One of the issues that came up during my presentation last week was this:

How can we get over the RESISTANCE to plan?

To get over the resistance, I use the following “thought exercise”.

In my mind, I envision myself going through all the steps in the process--it only takes a few seconds--and consider how much TIME or ENERGY I have to

  • Plan meals and make a list

  • Shop

  • Prep food ahead of time

  • Prep the meal the day of

Try it. The purpose of this exercise is to help you be realistic in planning. If you know your time is very limited, plan meals that require little thought and preparation. If you have more time, you may be able to cook some meals ahead to make it easier on yourself the day of.

I keep this list of meals that I can make without a recipe in 45 minutes or less.

It's simplistic but here's what's important to me about this list:

  • I can make these without a recipe--so, one less step in planning and preparing

  • The meals are quick and easy for me when I'm feeling overwhelmed

  • It reminds me I need to remember to add a vegetable or fruit, which I sometimes forget to plan for when I'm busy

Whenever I make a meal that takes less than 45 minutes and that my family likes, I add it to the list.

When I have more time and feel like trying something new, I use the Yummly app or go to America’s Test Kitchen website.

SO…How are we doing with not eating out? Here are some highlights from our week:

My oldest son had a birthday and instead of eating out, he asked for home-cooked burritos. I made “Tinga de Pollo” from America’s Test Kitchen and Beef Barbacoa with all the toppings. It was delicious!

I confess that I ate a Chicken Shawarma sandwich that my daughter brought me from Beirut Bakery on one occasion. But when I went out of town for the day to visit my grandmother, instead of eating out like I usually do, I packed a lunch.

It was a simple lunch—a juice box and peanut butter and jelly sandwich—but it got me through the day. I also brought a quart of tea with me. And because my husband left a bag of trail mix in the car, I was able to snack on that on the way home.

Speaking of my husband, last week, he caved and went out to eat—he was exhausted from being at work all day and then had to take our oldest son to drum lessons.

So, did this derail our commitment? No way!

We all have off days when the best-laid plans go awry. It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re not committed, it’s just a momentary diversion and then we’re back on track.

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