Voodoo Tuesday: My effort every week to remind myself of the million pieces of voodoo (also known as good habits) that are progressing me on my journey. Today's voodoo...
Plan to Succeed
Planning ahead is probably the single best/hardest habit that I have built. Here's what works for me (read: what I should do & yet I sometimes still fight it & think I'll do fine "wingin' it"):
On Sundays I like to sit down & plan the meals for the rest of the week. Mondays are always veg & Fridays are usually seafood of some sort (aw, Dave...you're such a sweetie). When I'm REALLY firing on all cylinders, Saturdays & Sundays are pulled from the freezer which just leaves Tuesdays-Thursdays to have to really think about. I use Weight Watchers' eTools for menu planning/tracking since I'm already paying for them, but I've heard great things about free software such as MyFitnessPal & SparkPeople. Once I've picked my meals for the week & entered them on my tracker, I go through the recipes & figure out what I have on hand & what I need to buy. My GOAL is always to go to the grocery store one time per week & Costco two times per month. I rarely achieve this goal, BUT thanks to menu planning, we're not going to the grocery store every night like we previously were.
Having my dinners planned allows me to work backwards on the day & know how many points/calories I have left for the rest of the day. In the evening, after the kids are snugly in bed, I sit down & plan breakfast & lunch for the next day, working with the things I have on hand. If we're going to be going out to eat the next day, I will take a few minutes to see if I can find the restaurant's menu, or better yet nutrition information, online so I can plan what I'm going to order. Planning out-to-eat meals in advance of sitting with the menu in my lap & all eyes on me while yummy smells are hitting my nose is soooooo important for me. If I've already decided that I'm going to have a salad without cheese & dressing on the side, it's much easier for me to actually order a salad without cheese & dressing on the side...as opposed to a blooming onion & fried shrimp.
My last big plan ahead endeavor involves produce. If I have it on hand & it's readily available, I'll eat it. And if I have it in large quantities, I'll be even more likely to eat it to keep it from spoiling. To that end, I've always got Costco sized quantities of produce in my house. At this very moment I have a 3 lb bunch of bananas, a 4 lb package of grapes, a 2 lb box of spinach, a 2 lb bag of asparagus, a 3 lb bag of carrots, 4 lb flat of peaches, a 2 lb bag of Brussels sprouts, 6 bell peppers, 4 bunches of celery, a 5 lb bag of onions, a 5 lb box of sweet potatoes, & a 3 lb box of plums in my possession. That's called pressure. There's a lot of cash tied up in all of that produce & if I don't want to dump all of that cash directly into my compost bin I better find a way to eat it & feed it to my family. To get it all gone, I pre-wash & cut as much as I can on the weekends or right after I get home from the store. One of the biggest hurdles to healthy eating is making healthy foods as easy as lousy foods. If I've got a bowl of plums on the table that are washed & ready, it's just as easy to grab one of those as it would be to grab a Snickers.
Menu planning & prepping takes a LOT of time. But I've found it takes me progressively less time as I get better at it & as my kitchen has become better stocked for preparing fuel food rather than storing junk food. The rewards are worth the time. When I KNOW what I'm going to eat, I'm less likely to wait until the last minute & forage for crap because I'm starving & pressed for time. And if that's not enough, I get to look forward to the great food I'm having tonight & on into the week. I've been looking forward to tonight's Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken & Baked Garlic Brussels Sprouts since Sunday. And no McDonald's ad or Ruby Tuesday flier is going to con me out of that.