I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now, at least several weeks, maybe a couple of months even. But I always felt like I wasn’t ready. Like I was a fraud for speaking about diet and meal planning and food prep. You see, I love food. Good food, in particular. Some not so good for you food too. And while I wouldn’t say I binge, I can lose control sometimes. I do overeat occasionally. I want to lose weight (as of typing this I’m about 30 pounds overweight), but I don’t want to be on a diet. I want to find a balance that is a lifestyle change I can maintain and not feel deprived or sad about. But I’m no expert and I’m still working on what that balance is exactly.
It’s Day 2 of Blogmas and the holidays are the time of year when finding balance between the occasional indulgence and being healthy (so that you can have the occasional indulgence) is most critical. And it’s certainly no easy task. And that’s why now is the perfect time to finally write this post, because I think meal planning and food prep can be a big help in finding success during the holidays, and throughout the rest of the year as well.
I love me an Excel spread sheet (or a Google Sheet in this case). I use one for my grocery list, and instead of checking items off as I put them in my cart, I enter their prices so I can keep a running tally of my costs and try to stay on budget. But that’s a different blog post!
In the same document I use for my grocery list, I have a tab for my weekly meal plan. It’s just a simple grid with the weekdays across the top, and breakfast, lunch and dinner plus two small snacks down the side. I’ve been doing some version of meal planning like this since I moved out on my own. Sometimes I’m not so thorough though.
I find that if I don’t fill every space in my grid, it’s like I didn’t plan anything at all. I tend to get hangry. So I want to make sure I have food with me otherwise I’ll get a headache that doesn’t go away until I go to sleep. And sleeping at work is frowned upon. At least where I work… So if I don’t plan for every space, I will end up scrambling to grab anything to bring with me. Just in case. And then I overpack those “just in case” items, which makes me more likely to overeat later.
As an aside, I’ve been trying to drink more water, because I’m probably just dehydrated and that’s what’s causing the headaches, not being hungry. And when I drink enough, I usually find I don’t even need the snacks. So I don’t eat them. But planning for them makes me feel more confident, knowing I have a smart option at the ready.
I typically meal plan and grocery shop on Saturdays. And then I food prep on Sundays. Having the food for the meals I’ve planned prepped in advance makes it much easier to make the healthier, albeit not always perfect, choices. Last week for instance, over the 4-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I did not meal plan or food prep at all. And every morning I was scrambling to put something together before I left for work. It could have been way worse, but it could have been a lot better too.
So this weekend, when I could have been putting up more holiday decorations for Wednesday’s holiday decor tour (eek!), I made sure to prioritize the food prep instead. Because when I do it, I feel a lot calmer in the mornings and like I’m making better choices throughout the day.
I started writing this post while standing at my kitchen counter, next to the stove, watching over a very tiny sauce pan with two eggs bubbling away. I was praying that they don’t boil over, that they don’t overcook and that I can peel them without too much hassle. These eggs are destined to be served with steamed asparagus and a couple of slices of cheese for two lunches this week. Not TOO bad, right?
I cut up carrot sticks to have with little hummus cups. I have bananas and apples at the ready. I portioned out yogurt, blueberries and granola for breakfast parfaits. I mixed up some overnight oats. I have chicken cutlets and some green veggies packed up. 100 calorie microwave popcorns get me through a couple of afternoons. I peeled and cut up the asparagus. I boiled the eggs.
And now I’m ready to tackle the work week, knowing I have each day covered and that I made smart choices and am setting myself up for success.
Now I just need to figure out what to wear tomorrow and get myself to bed.