Creating an action planNovember 18, 2017

How’s that working for you? You can create an action plan for anything and for anyone. Time to talk food prep rituals.

What makes a ritual so powerful?

Rituals ground us, regardless of how big or small they may seem. Rituals give you an opportunity to connect to things that are recurring events like a birthday party or weekly gathering of friends. They organize us and connect you to both past and future situations. You can look back on your rituals and reflect and use those rituals to plan ahead. Rituals give us the opportunity to be present, to be in the now, to refresh and rejoice. This gives your mind, body and spirit the opportunity to pay attention to what is happening right now. Graduations and holidays are rituals that give opportunities to renew old friendships and connect to other people. Why not be a part of something big like a graduation or Christmas gathering with old friends and family? Finally, rituals allow you to connect to yourself. Meditation or yoga is used by some to connect with themselves and they do that daily. For some, it can be a simple “take 5” daily to gather themselves and to touch base with where they are at. Whatever the ritual, they are powerful and food prep rituals are no different.

It’s easier to think about one meal at a time or one behavior at a time. It’s a step not a leap.

Food prep rituals allow you to PLAN and be PROACTIVE. It isn’t about perfecting a meal or eating “on time.” It is about having some healthy food planned and prepared in advance, so that it is easily available when you want it and when you need it.

Being prepared means:

  • Shopping on a regular basis.
  • Menu and meal planning.
  • Washing and cutting veggies in advance.
  • Washing and cutting fruit in advance.
  • Prep raw proteins/cook proteins in advance and in bulk (cutting and cooking turkey breast).
  • Cook meals in bulk. Things like soups, casseroles, individual starches like potatoes, rice, pancakes, yams, quinoa
  • When buying in bulk, separate the food into smaller containers that you can freeze as individual servings. This way you can manage what you need. This could also mean storing 4 chicken breasts in a baggy to feed 4 people.
  • Freeze and refrigerate food for later. Save leftovers for the next day.
  • Look ahead into your week. Make sure you understand your schedule and plan food for those occasions that need it most. Things like after school activities, work related meetings, busy weeks, traveling and dealing with crisis.
  • Essential tools to have in the kitchen: chopping block, sharp knives, measuring tools, food scales, crock pots, frying pans, blender, food processor.

How do you put all these ideas into action?

Here are some examples:

Pick one day of the week to plan a couple hours to shop, cook and prepare food in advance. Many use Sundays for this but really, it could be any day of the week. Whatever you choose, choose the day that works best for you that you can be consistent on. Use this day to purchase the groceries you will need for the next week or for the next couple days. Have all the essentials you need in order to plan your meals accordingly. If you know it will be a busy week and you don’t have time to wash veggies or fruit, spend a bit more money and purchase the pre-washed bagged salads and pre-cut fruit trays. It’s a good day to pre-cook some larger meals like casseroles or large portions of food you can store like rice, potatoes or pasta. Pull out the crock pot and create healthy meals like turkey chili or soups. You can even cook a roast in a crock pot so use it! Pre-cook protein like chicken breasts, turkey breasts or lean ground beef and store for a couple days. If you feel really energetic and you have a family pack of chicken ready to cook, do it and freeze extras. Pre-make hamburgers or turkey burgers and freeze the raw version. Maybe you love homemade salsa or dressings. Use this day to mix up your favorite condiments. Produce always seems to get missed so use this day to pre-wash and chop veggies. Use your tools and chop your veggies in a food processor. It may take some clean up time but the time spent chopping is greatly reduced.

For some, taking an extra 15 minutes in the evening allows for meal prep time. This usually means you are planning for tomorrow, not the entire week.

This could mean at dinner you spent a bit more time prepping more food to take for leftovers the next day. Maybe it’s planning your breakfast because you know your mornings are hectic. Things like overnight oats work well for some. If you have extra food prepped, take the time and store the proper portions for your lunch and even dinner if you know the next day is a really busy day. Simple things like that will keep you prepared.

Not everyone is a morning person. However for those who are can take an extra 15 minutes and plan in the morning your day ahead. Time is tight so making a shake is a good option. You can take the shake with you and either drink it on the way OR you can store it in the fridge for your early morning snack. Take the leftovers from last night and create your lunch meal. Have veggies pre- cut and protein pre-cut? Pull out your crock pot and fill it up. Turn it on and look forward to a home cooked meal later in the day. Pack extra snacks like trail mix or fruit and keep it in your vehicle just in case you are stuck in traffic on the way home.

NO time! Really? Not even a minute? I bet you do, so take that minute and have an action plan.

Stop at the grocery store pick up a rotisserie chicken or deli meat, stop by the produce section and grab some pre-washed veggies and grab a fruit tray. Buy any extra food you may need for the next couple days. If you are starving while shopping, grab a bag of pre-washed baby carrots and munch on them or stop by the pharmacy section and grab a single protein bar. It isn’t wise to shop when you are starving, chances are you will react to the hunger with unwanted food choices. When you decide to go for dinner, plan this in advance if you can. Go online and research the menu and try to pick out foods beforehand. If portions are large, eat slowly and eat until you are 80% full. Grab a doggie bag and now you have food for tomorrow!

Try to multitask while cooking. Chop and wash extra veggies or protein while you are cooking. Put away any leftovers right away so you don’t feel tempted to snack on them. Pull out the crock pot and put your left overs or extras into the pot. Add enough water to cover your pieces and cook overnight created a tasty broth, ready for making soup.

It’s easier to think about one meal at a time or one behavior at a time. It’s a step not a leap. Think about what you want or feel like having in 2-4 hours. With practice you can create routines with all of the options above. Over time, deliberate planning and prep will dramatically enhance your sense of control and proactivity. Before you know it, you are planning automatically days in advance.