I knew that this week was going to be hectic - in the best way, of course, full of rehearsals and networking events and interesting lectures - but hectic nonetheless.
I'm sure that most of us know that crazy periods in our life often means less time to make healthy choices, usually because the easiest, quickest choice that fits best into our schedule isn't always the best for us. (Why make a salad when McDonald's is right across the street? Why go to the gym when we could get 30 more minutes of sleep? Why make time to build our friendships after work when we're exhausted?)
My childhood training as Girl Guide ["be prepared!"] comes out in weeks like this, as I feel best knowing I've set myself up to make the best decisions I can. I find that putting steps in place to ensure my success calms my frazzled brain. Plus, it provides me with the energy and motivation to tackle the big stuff throughout the week. It just requires a little planning and a little time investment in advance!
I talk a lot with clients about their desire for quick, easy, healthful recipes -- they're busy people with limited time to spend in the kitchen. I get it. Entirely.
So, in anticipation of this crazy week, I committed a couple of hours over the weekend to preparing lunch and dinner stuffs for the week. This means we don't have to rush home to shop or cook - that's at least one less thing per day to worry about. Also, it means my husband doesn't have to stress about scavenging in the kitchen on nights I'm at the theatre -- not that he couldn't cook for himself, he's just busy, too! This is an inexpensive, time-efficient way to approach meal-planning for the week. Everything I've cooked up is nutrient-dense, whole-food based, took less than 20 minutes of prep time, and didn't require a ton of supervision during cooking. Many of the dishes repeat ingredients (quinoa in the soup + both whole varieties; sweet potatoes x 2; garlic + onion in the soup and the stir-fry; kale in the soup and the quinoa) -- so you can chop everything at once and toss it into the different dishes as you get to them.
- Plan your menu: which ingredients will you need for the 4-6 dishes you'll make for the week? Which of these double-up on ingredients? What kinds of "add-ins" will you include? [These are plain ingredients that you can use in multiple ways: beans, chopped veggies, brown rice, quinoa, millet... think of ones you enjoy that offer versatility]
- Shop in advance: visit the farmers market or the grocery store with your list of ingredients. One shopping trip early on will be more time-efficient than going multiple times throughout the week.
- Set aside 2-3 hours of cooking time on the weekend: early-morning, later in the evening, whatever works for your schedule. Treat it like an activity; invite family or friends to partake, too. Play music. Seriously.
- Have reusable storage containers ready to pack everything up as it finishes cooking: you'll keep counter-space clear so you can continue to work without getting overwhelmed.
- Do dishes as they happen: you might need that pot again in ten minutes, so why not wash it now and save yourself some time? (And hey, if you don't use it again, it's clean to put away!)
Providing your body with the right kinds of fuel to persevere through tough weeks is essential. Nice to know you can cook once and eat all week, hey?
Above are some fueling bits of inspiration! How are you fueling your week?