Being mindful of nutritious meals, keeping a routine for exercise, and then also making sure you have time for relaxation can be stressful, which then becomes something unhealthy. I wanted to share with you a few things I do to keep on track so that my time is best spent in other ways and with my family.
1 | Meal Prep
I will be completely honest with you – I hated the idea of meal prep. The thought of having to plan more (even though I am a planner) and cook more (although I love cooking) was not appealling to me at all! My first “meal prep” experience with lunch was literally a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with carrot sticks and either apple slices or clementines. I usually just focus my meal prepping on lunch since our breakfasts are usually the same – yogurt, oatmeal, or a smoothie, and dinners I usually will be home to cook. But here are some things I’ve learned and why it truly is beneficial.
Don’t Have to Think About Lunch
After that first week, I realized throughout my busy week, I liked not having to think a wink about lunch. Where was I going to eat? What I was going to eat? Would it be nutritious or would I regret it? It was done and already decided and it wouldn’t be something I would regret.
Not As Tempted
I also realized that because I knew what I was going to be eating, I didn’t think about other foods whether nutritious or not, so I stayed on point with my goals. I set aside the time to prepare salads this week, so I’m having salad for lunch – or whatever it might be. No other internal conversations with myself, it’s already decided.
Keep it Simple
If you haven’t done it yet, try it out with an easy lunch like peanut butter sandwiches and fruits and veggies you just throw in a bag. And now they have those “snack packs” with chopped veggies and dip, or carrot sticks and almonds already prepared in the produce department to grab and throw in your lunch bag that it can be really simple.
Meal prep is suppose to be a time saver, so don’t get hung up on a complicated recipe.
Here is an easy hot lunch to get you started:
- Frozen Turkey Meatballs
- Brown Rice
- Frozen Broccoli Florets
- Jar of Marinara Sauce
- Make the rice. Add salt and pepper or other seasonings you might like.
- Add 1/2-1 cup of rice to your lunch container
- Add in 3-4 frozen meatballs
- Add 1/2-1 cup frozen broccoli
- Put Marinara in a small sauce container or sealed baggie if you want to keep it separate, otherwise drizzle on top.
When you are ready to heat up your lunch, the meatballs and frozen broccoli will cook and will have enough water to steam in the container. The only cook time is cooking the rice. The only clean up is the pot for the rice. DONE!
2 | Meal Plan
To go along with meal prepping, have a meal plan ready. I usually try to figure something out a month in advance. It will move and change throughout the month, but I try to be ahead of the game. The first month was hard so I just planned easy dinners and lunch preps to see how it went. Things like tomato soup and sandwiches, veggie burgers and salad, etc. Nothing too complicated. Here are some tips and benefits I’ve found.
Save the Headache
Once you figure out what you are going to be making, and if you are like me, figure it out a month in advance, the headache of: What are we cooking? Do we have it? What are we ordering this week for groceries? It’s already taken care of. You do it once and month, and everything is already decided. Instead of thinking about it every night, you think about it maybe a few times a month.
Keep on Track
Meal plans help to keep you on track with healthy goals. For me, instead of thinking you’ll just pick something up for dinner, I already knew that morning what I was going to be cooking, I already have the ingredients, I just have to get home and make it. That way you can keep on board with whatever you might be watching and it won’t be as easy to get off track.
Grocery Shopping Becomes Easier
I used to go to the store every day or every other day. When I lived right down the street from my favorite grocery stores, it wasn’t that big of a deal, but now living and working about 20-30 minutes away is a big deal. So having my grocery list set for the week, although I might not be able to get everything that one time, has helped a lot. Knowing what I’ll be cooking for breakfast, lunch, and dinner makes creating my grocery list simple and quick.
Plus using a recipe database like Pepperplate makes it that much easier too. Getting all your recipes in one place, and then being able to click on it to add to your grocery list, it already populates the list. It also has a calendar you can create your meal plan on along with having a usable app on your phone. I’ve only ever used Pepperplate, but there are many others out there.
Soon I will be able to offer some meal plans for your family or help you individually with meal plans to meet your goals you might have, but until then!
3 | Order Your Groceries
I was hesitant too. I knew the grocery stores I liked getting my produce and that was the main thing I was concerned about. After the first time I drove up and picked up my groceries, I’ve never looked back. There is nothing like a crowded grocery store to stress me out and get me in a bad mood almost instantly. And that’s not even dealing with the parking lot getting in and out. I can not tell you how many times I came home after grocery shopping and was exhausted, fussy, and just didn’t want any interaction with my family for about 10 minutes after the groceries were put away. Serious. So this option has many upsides to it for me. But there are some things to know before you order it if you have not before.
Things You Need To Know
- Different stores have their different ways of doing it
- Some deliver, some you pick up at the store and call them that you have arrived. Some charge an extra fee, some do not. So figure out the logistics of your favorite store if they offer it
- Most still honor online coupons so make sure to look to see what’s available to use
- Most will substitute.
- If there is an item you don’t want substituted, you can always let them know in your notes or comments when getting your order ready. Whenever there was a substitution to be made it was always equal or better to what I had selected and they honored the original price or it was lower.
- Speaking of comments – if you want to make sure you have 4 tomatoes, and not just 1 lb. of tomatoes, you can also add those details in the comments when ordering usually.
- Order ahead.
- Some places can process the order within a hour or two. Some it takes longer.
- For me – I make sure to do my order the night before I want to pick it up. That way the time slots to pick it up are at my disposal and I’ll know when will be the best time for me to pick it up.
Why I Love It
- Produce has been consistently fresh.
- I order from the grocery store I already knew had fresh produce and ordering it online was no different.
- Never upset with any substitutions.
- If there was something they did not have in stock, they substituted it with something comparable or equal to what I had ordered. For example: I needed dried thyme, they had an organic one on sale. They were sold out of it, so they made sure to replace it with another organic one – for the sale price of the other one that was out of stock. Something you would not get going to the store yourself.
- Frozen products are always still frozen when they deliver.
- Never overspend on what I need for the month.
- I don’t get distracted by other things in the store
- Like chips or that chocolate bar that stares at you while you’re waiting in line – you know what I’m talking about!
- Saves time.
- Save money.
- Because of not getting more than what I need for the week, and them honoring things that are on sale, I always spend less when picking up my groceries (even with the small service fee) than if I were to go to the store myself.
- Saves my mental and emotional well-being.
- I’m serious. Life is already stressful. If there is any way to lessen stress and lessen time spent doing things that you could be relaxing and spending time with family – why not?
I truly haven’t had a bad experience and have yet to see a down-side to this. It’s been awesome. There are still things I need to run into a store for here and there, and somethings that are only at one store that I still need to go and get, so I do still actually grocery shop. And the days I have time to walk around to see what’s new, I enjoy. But for the bulk of my shopping that can take an hour or more in a crowded store while I’m trying not to get run over by a cart in the store or a car outside the store (for real), I now order and pick up. I feel fancy, and too be honest feels too good to be true.
Test it out! It saves me at least 2-3 hours of my weekend, which as you know, goes by way too fast.
Being healthy is a mixture of things – your eating habits, time to exercise, and time spent relaxing and being with the people you love. All of those things take time, effort, and some preparation. Keeping my meals planned and organized has really helped to eliminate wasted time and stress. And then ordering groceries online, I cannot tell you how much that relieves me mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Whatever it is that might stress you out or sucks the time out of your day that could be better spent, see how you can adjust it. The more you make an adjustment the more it becomes permanent and the easier it gets. Time is precious, make what you are doing count.