One thing that’s changed for a lot of us this year is how we eat. Maybe for the better, maybe for worse. If you stress eat, it probably hasn’t been great. But then again, a lot of us have shifted to cooking more meals at home to avoid restaurants, or just because there are fewer food-serving social events to attend.
In keeping with our theme of examining our health-related habits, why not take a look at your meal planning this week? (If you have no clue what you’re going to eat in the coming week, that may be a hint that you could use a little structure.)
There are many valid approaches to meal planning, and to be honest I don’t always do very well with the ones that sound ideal on paper. So let’s consider a few possibilities:
Plan out several home-cooked meals, buy the ingredients, and live off those groceries and exactly nothing else for the week.
Choose one meal per day, or even one per week, on which you will have your shit together. (Saturday dinner, maybe.) On the rest, scrounge as usual.
Buy frozen or ready-made meal components that you can combine as you go. For example: a frozen burger patty, a slice of cheese, and half a bag of frozen veggies.
Subscribe to a cooking box or a grocery box, and cook what they give you.
Subscribe to a box or service that delivers ready-made meals.
When I asked on Twitter about healthy habits during quarantine, several folks replied with meal planning answers. One person uses a local meal service; another subscribed to a CSA.
I started paying a professional to deliver real meals to our house & it’s healthy food and saves money on takeout and groceries @mindymin ????— Melinda (@melwedde) September 28, 2020
Personally, I’ve been enjoying Imperfect Foods grocery boxes; I can either pick what I’d like to receive, or I can let them surprise me. I use recipes from Skillet (of course) or Budget Bytes to combine them into meals with minimal fuss.
Your assignment: plan three meals for yourself this week
Take a minute to think about how you’d like to eat for the next week. I’m recommending you think ahead about at least three meals, but you can do more if you like. Do you want to cook at home, or no? Eat more vegetables and lean protein, or just be able to open a can and know you’ll end up with something tasty and filling? (Remember, you decide what healthy means to you right now. Preserving your mental health is just as valid a goal as anything else.)
I recommend reading through Claire’s guide to pandemic meal planning, which includes identifying what you love and hate about meal planning, and meeting your own specific needs. If things are rough, we also have a guide to feeding yourself when you’re depressed.
We also have a guide on what to do when meal planning never seems to work for you, and a meditation on why you should be a little bit selfish about your plans sometimes. You don’t have to force yourself to eat a cauldron’s worth of lentil stew if you would be honestly more excited about having breakfast for dinner or treating yourself to your favourite takeout place. Make a plan and do your best to stick to it, and let us know how it goes.