We all know that proper nutrition is vital to achieving our health and fitness goals. This usually means replacing highly processed, fatty and sugary foods with fresh organic vegetables, fruit, nuts & seeds and lean proteins. It also means shopping the perimeter of the grocery store, making weekly trips to the meat shop and farmer’s market and spending hours in the kitchen doing meal prep. At a glimpse, to invest in proper nutrition is to invest a significant amount of time and money. In the long run, it is time and money well spent. But for many of us, it can be daunting, expensive and tiring. Nobody wants that.
That isn’t to say that we can get by on ignoring proper nutrition. We can’t. But, we can lessen the immediate impact on our pockets, build confidence over time and master habits to save ourselves time and energy. The following are things we’ve learnt over the past few weeks.
To succeed on this journey, you can never go wrong with planning ahead. Such is the case with maintaining proper nutrition. Whether the intent is a full scale meal prep or daily lunch, having a plan to tackle it is the best way to maximize your time and energy. Make a list of ingredients needed for meals throughout the week and take said list when grocery shopping. Set aside time on your least busy day (weekend maybe) to cook enough food for a few days and freeze any extras. Research restaurants near work that will allow you to get your daily green juice or a healthy lunch by checking their menus online. Bring healthy snacks to work, storing them in your bag, desk or lunch room for those times meetings run longer or you get held hostage by your boss.
Buy Frozen & Canned Foods.
Buying frozen and canned foods make sense if you are always short on time or want to avoid having spoilt produce in your fridge at the end of the week. These foods provide as much nutritional punch as fresh ones, are relatively cheaper, can go straight from the freezer/fridge or can into the skillet or oven and requires minimum clean up.
Don’t be Afraid of Pre-seasoned, Pre-cooked or Pre-packaged Foods.
Some may say ‘convenience’ is lazy but to the grocers who’ve decided to meet this particular need, we say thank you! The wide variety of pre-packaged stir-fry veggies, pre-seasoned meat or entire pre-cooked meals now available, make healthy eating possible even with packed schedules. By choosing ‘pre-done’ packages with a main ingredient like curried chicken, and few additions like herbs & spices, we’re still getting quality nutrition. It may come at a slightly higher price, but for the convenience of quick meals and minimal clean up, it can’t be beat.
Use Your Slow Cooker or Instant Pot
We believe the Slow Cooker and the Instant Pot are the two greatest inventions. EVER! They’ve made cooking much easier, even for a beginner, and can save so much time and money. The beauty about these appliances? You throw everything in (e.g. meat, seasonings and vegetables), set it and forget it. Hours later you have a tasty meal ready to dig into. Both are great for bulk cooking e.g. stews, one pot meals and roasts, but the Instant Pot is much more versatile being able to cook rices, steam vegetables, make soups, pressurize meat etc.
Order Off The Menu
If you are required to go out, or simply want to enjoy an evening out with family and friends, you can. And without derailing your progress or suffer feelings of guilt too. This however may require a little planning ahead, like checking a restaurant’s menu before going so you’ll have an idea of what’s available and possible swaps. If not or you are in doubt, order off the menu. Choose a protein that you can get grilled, baked, broiled or roasted, hold the sauces or have them on the side. When ordering sides and vegetables, opt for steamed, grilled, roasted or boiled. If you order a drink, opt for a cleaner version of whatever cocktail is recommended replacing rum with vodka or gin and soda or syrup with carbonated or lemon water. If you must do dessert, opt for fresh fruit based like a sorbet or fruit tart and be sure to share it with someone.