The older I get, the more I realize that being organized really helps all facets of my life. Organization kind of oozes into areas I wouldn’t have expected it to matter. Obviously it comes in handy when looking for something in your house or your office. It definitely helps when you need something specific from the abyss you call your purse. Would you guess that being organized can help you eat better, though? I’m telling you, organization is a way of life!
Let me paint a picture to demonstrate. You set PM on your alarm clock by accident and woke up really late. In a mad dash out the door, you inhale some juice and a Little Debbie just because it was there for the taking. Your stomach starts rumbling at 10 a.m. because breakfast wasn’t substantial enough, and you visit the vending machine for a snack. At lunch you grab a burrito while you’re out running errands. Rush hour traffic put you home late, and you’re still coming down from the anxiety of nothing going quite right today. The easiest thing to do now is just eat a bag of microwave popcorn and have a glass of wine because you still haven’t made it to the grocery store this week.
As much as I wish being organized meant that I was never late in the mornings (HA!), what I was getting at was that organization can help you avoid eating crap all day. I know fast food and prepackaged convenience items are always tempting when I’m busy, stressed, and lacking energy, but I know it’s important to not slip into that rut. Plus, I physically feel better when I’m in the habit of eating higher quality foods than when I’ve binged on processed junk.
What helps me the most is planning ahead. I set aside time, usually on the weekend, to get prepared for my week. I look at my calendar to see what days are busiest or what days I’ll get home later. I plan less involved, quicker meals for those days. I try new recipes and plan more fun meals with multiple components for the days I get home earlier. The key, though, is the planning. Forethought before you’re stressed and hungry makes 5 p.m. Thursday much easier to deal with. I have a dry erase menu board on my refrigerator, and it displays the week’s meals that I’ve planned. By the way, this usually helps with the constant, “what’s for dinner?” question. Not only does my menu board hold me accountable to what I already decided to make, but it keeps me from having to dig through the cupboards to see how I can creatively combine black eyed peas and bananas when my stomach really wanted to eat ten minutes ago. If I’ve planned for a specific meal to be made, I know I’ll be potentially letting food spoil if I choose to stop for fast food on the way home when all the ingredients for my original meal are waiting. I hate to waste money on food I didn’t use fast enough, and that can be a great motivator to stick to the plan.
Cook In Bulk
Another way I tend to prepare for a busy week is by making a big dish of something that I can package and take to work each day for lunch. I usually do this on Sunday afternoon and put together my individual containers so that I can just grab one and go when I’m packing my lunch in the morning. If I already have food set aside for lunch, I won’t waste valuable morning time throwing together a pb&j or be forced to buy something less healthy. I love cold grain or bean salads for lunches or even leftover pasta. A crockpot is a great way to make a large meal that can stretch throughout the week. Some of my favorite lunch recipes are on our Pinterest boards. I love adding extra veggies, making substitutions, or swapping out the protein in them for variety.
On-the-go foods are an important part of being a busy bee. Healthy snacks are great for tiding you over until meal time and keeping your mental juices flowing in the afternoon. Like I do with lunches, I make snacks and individually package them to throw into my lunch box each morning. I may not eat a snack every day, but having it there will keep me from hitting up the vending machine when hunger strikes. My go-to snacks are homemade energy bars and trail mix. You can also find the peanut-free energy bar recipe on our Pinterest page, and as a bonus, they’re great frozen to stretch their shelf life. I buy nuts and seeds in bulk for my trail mix. My favorite combo is lightly salted pistachios, natural almonds, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, and Grenada Chocolate Company dark chocolate chunks.
For me, it all boils down to planning ahead so I don’t impulse eat whatever is quickest or cheapest. If you try this out, let us know how it goes! What other tips do you have for eating healthy when you’re super busy?
Photo courtesy of Alex.