How to feed yourself well on a busy schedule
I, like most of us, have a full life. I'm always overly ambitious about what I can get done and every day is stuffed to the gills. One of the things that is very important to me is that I eat well and that I'm able to put healthy food on the table every night for dinner. While I like to cook, I don't want to spend hours in the kitchen. I also don't want my evening to be a stressful experience of trying to figure out what to make when I've tapped out my creative stores and decision making abilities. Over the years I've refined my process for making sure that me and my family eat well despite my busy schedule.
This was not always the case. When I lived in NYC I lived in Hell's Kitchen with Whole Foods a few blocks away and small independent fish, meat, and specialty foods markets sprinkled about. Every day was a mini culinary adventure. Eight years later and 2 boys later I don't want to spend hours dedicated to grocery shopping and cooking every day. I want to eat delicious, healthy food and I don't want it to take too much time. That has been my mission as of late and I wanted to share my Sunday sadhana on how I make it happen on a weekly basis.
Sadhana is the Sanskrit word for conscious practice or ritual done for a specific purpose or goal. In my case, my Sunday kitchen session is for the purpose of streamlining my meal prep, nourishing my family well and saving time in the kitchen during the week.
Every Sunday I sit down with my favorite cookbooks and recipe files and make my meal plan for the week. When I find a recipe that fits my criteria of fast, easy, yummy and healthy I bookmark it and add it to my list of dinners. Then, when meal planning time comes, I scan my list and voila – weekday dinners are planned in just a few minutes. I always check my fridge first to see what I have to work with.
Then, I make a grocery list for the ingredients I need to buy and plan a trip to get what I need for the week.
Lastly, I pull out my calendar and figure out how much time I have to cook each day. Then, according to how much time is needed for each dish, I plug the dinners into my calendar.
After meal planning is done I batch task my kitchen duties while listening to my favorite podcast or audiobook. Batch tasking is when you do similar tasks at the same time. I usually make a big pot of soup for the week. I'll clean out the fridge and prep veggies and salad dressing. I'll sprout some seeds for my smoothies and make juice from all my leftover kale, broccoli and cauliflower stems that I've saved from the week. I'll add any fruit or veggies that need to be used up for my "everything but the kitchen sink Sunday juice". Sometimes I roast veggies to add to salads and sides. These few hours of prep save so much time and I can rest easy knowing that we will eat well all week.
Meal planning in the first strategy I teach for improving your diet in my yoga health coaching course Align and Thrive. Carve out some time this week to prep for the week and you will:
- Spend less time in the kitchen
- Save time and mental energy by planning ahead
- Have less little wiggle room for unhealthy cravings to run the show
- Have plenty of time after dinner to enjoy the evening and time with family