“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around for a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
It can be a challenge.
You want to eat “right”, exercise, and get/be healthy, but you’re busy. All the time.
How many times have you put off something, thinking “I’ll do that after I do xxx” and it turns into an hour, then a day, then a week, oh just forget it!
Organization is a dirty word. How do you make time to organize when you have NO time?
As the Nike ad says “just do it”.
The fact is, once you get organized, you have more time.
What does this have to do with diet? Well, for me at least, when my life is organized, I find my thoughts more organized which leads to my diet being more organized and on track.
What I do:
- Plan the weeks meals on Saturday or Sunday and make out your grocery list.
This can involve a little web browsing if I’m bored, to get recipe ideas, or old standards. I usually have the weekly sales circular up in another tab, to organize my grocery list with my sales for the week (save $$ and time!) I keep my grocery list and menu plan on LibreOffice (free download, comparable to Word) so I can quickly edit, note and print.
- Grocery shopping on Monday
Why Monday? For me it’s the easiest day. The stores are less crowded and the added benefit $$: Most stores mark down their over stock from the weekend. Last week I snagged 10 organic, grass fed, individually packaged strip steaks (normally about $10 each) for $4 each because they were “sell by” the next day. Nicely stocked in my freezer now! Same with produce, be a little picky here, no one wants a pack of slimy mushrooms!
- Prep what you can as soon as you get home from the store.
Simple enough because you’re already in the kitchen and have all your foods out.
Clean produce (don’t forget to keep those cut ends for stock/broth, just bag and freeze them), dry well and wrap things like lettuce, parsley and greens in paper towels before stowing them in the fridge.
Want to cut your lettuce for salads ahead of time? The vacuum sealer will keep it fresh for a week -just add in a paper towel to absorb moisture and remember to re-seal it after use.
Re-package the meats you want to refrigerate or freeze. Ever smell that blood soaked pad in the bottom of the meat package? Yeah that one. Repackage. If you have a food saver/vacuum sealer, good deal! Make use of it.
- Cook/chop what you can ahead of time on Grocery Day
Making something with cooked chicken later in the week? Cook it the same day, chill and vacuum seal or store tightly wrapped until you need it.
Me? I cook 2lbs of ground beef, simply seasoned with salt and pepper, then divide it into 6oz servings and freeze them individually for quick grabs for things like taco salad, super quick chili, for tossing with cooked veggies, really ground beef is very versatile and even if you just want to thaw it, heat it in a bowl with some cheese, it’s “good to go”.
Slice, dice or otherwise prep chicken breasts, then vacuum seal and freeze until the night before I need them.
I also chop 3 large onions. 1 is sliced, 1 is small chop and 1 is chunked. These will be used in a variety of dishes through the week.
Peel and slice 4 cucumbers and put them in a bowl (tight lid!) filled with cold water and 2tsp sea salt. This makes them easy snacks or salad additions.
If you use a lot of peppers, clean and seed them, then store in vacuum sealed bags for the week.
I “zoodle” my zucchini for the week, wrap in paper towels and put in a zip-lock bag in the fridge. They stay fresh for 4-5 days that way and I don’t have to mess with creating them when I want to make a “pasta” dish.
You get the picture.
Clean up the mess and you’re ahead of the game for the week.
Total time, for me, from store to everything being done: about 3 hours. Once you start doing this, you get through it pretty quickly. And it saves hours of pre-meal work through the week.
A note about vacuum sealers: the big ones can take up a lot of space and are fairly pricey. Yes they do pay for themselves over time, so if you have the space and don’t mind the initial $$, get one!
The small hand held ones are great, too! The FoodSaver one on Amazon is inexpensive and really works great. The bags can add up $$ wise, so be sure to wash and reuse the produce ones to get the most for your money (I am not brave enough to re-use protein ones for fear of food poisoning).