If you’re always running late in the morning, or find yourself leaving work in the evening with a rumbling tummy and zero energy to cook, you’re more likely to indulge in fast food options or takeaways. After all, who doesn’t love a good delivery pizza after a long day?
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Unfortunately, it’s this combination of feeling tired and hungry that is responsible for many of the bad food decisions we make on a regular basis.
Taking time to create a comprehensive meal plan takes the guesswork out of working out what to cook and needing to buy the groceries required. Though spending one afternoon or evening per week dedicated to planning and shopping for 7-days-worth of meals might not be the most fun of activities, it’ll help keep you on track and in control. What’s more, if you combine the planning and shopping for food with some actual meal preparation, you’ll have an empowering start to the week, knowing that you have good, healthy food ready to go.
Start by thinking about the meals you’d like to make, as well as how extra portions can be stored in the freezer or used in a different way at lunchtime.
Then make a shopping list – making sure you check your pantry and cupboards for any basic supplies you might be running low on. By taking inventory on a regular basis, you’ll ensure you never run out of something you need, and you’ll save yourself time by not having to go to the store again for just one or two items (which inevitably turns into three, four, or ten items…).
When you get home with your shop, do some basic preparation of fruit and vegetables. Use tupperware containers to store washed berries, chopped fruit, and frozen bananas for smoothies. Dice onions and garlic, as well as chopping up any other vegetables – carrots, cucumber, broccoli, peppers, sprouts, or tomatoes – for use in the meals you plan on making. Store those in sealed boxes or bags to keep them fresh. Spending time doing this means that, even if you can’t make the whole meal ahead of time, you’ll have everything you need to bring a meal together in minutes.
Last but not least in the time-saving category, consider investing in a slow cooker. There are slow cookers in a real range of price brackets on the market, and you can have one on your doorstep in 24 hours or less.
There are literally thousands of simple recipes for slow cookers, which work by consistently cooking food at a low temperature for up to 12 hours. Add chicken, beef, or lamb to a slow cooker with root vegetables, stock and dried herbs. Your house will smell cozy and welcoming when you get home from work, and it won’t take long to get dinner on the table.