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Dieting would be so easy if you had a personal chef serving you each meal. Unfortunately, most of us have to cook if we want a warm meal, and that requires planning. Planning can make the difference between sticking with a diet and going off rails. Let’s see why it’s so hard to plan and how to make it easier.

Planning feels too daunting

Planning every meal can feel like too much work, like something that only chefs or professional athletes do. Spending the whole Sunday shopping, cooking, and vacuum packing each portion for the upcoming week just isn’t realistic for a regular person. But that’s a very extreme example of meal planning. There are other ways to do it that are quicker, don’t require so much time and still give you a lot of the same benefits.

Vacuum sealed beans
For a regular person, daily vacuum sealing of each meal portion is almost impossible. © Profimedia

Make it easy for yourself

There are a few things you can do that will make your future planning easier. Go through the following tips and set yourself up. You can become a planner even with very little time on your hands if you have the right mindset and proper equipment.

Start with baby steps

Even 5 minutes spent planning for the upcoming week is a LOT better than no planning at all. Start with planning for a single big meal you will make on the weekend. Making a bigger batch usually doesn’t require much more time or effort, and you’ll have leftovers for several days. A successful start will encourage you to do more planning the following week.

Stock up on dried goods

Dried goods
Is your pantry fully stocked? © Profimedia

Your planning will feel a lot easier when you know that your pantry is filled with all you need. Make a list of all the dried goods you can store for a long time and make a big shop. You can start with this example:

• Flavouring: herbs, spices, vinegar, soy sauce, mustard
• Baking items: baking powder, baking soda, flour, oils
• Sides: rice, quinoa, oats, bulgur, pasta, polenta
• Legumes: canned or dried beans, split peas, lentils, chickpeas
• Canned vegetables: tomatoes, artichokes, olives, corn, pickles, seaweed
• Canned animal foods: tuna, salmon, sardines, chicken, beef
• Nuts, seeds, nut butters, dried fruit, dark chocolate

You only have to do this maybe once a year if you buy in bulk. It will make every other shopping list shorter!

Make a shopping list of fresh produce

Vegetables
Visit that fresh isle or a farmers’ market. © Profimedia

Now that you are well stocked on all the dried ingredients you could ever need, it’s time for fresh produce. Just visit the fresh fruits and veggies isle and the meat and dairy isles and you’re done. This also helps you avoid wandering around the store and buying unplanned junk food. You can either think of recipes and buy the fresh produce you need for that or you can buy what looks good on the market or in the store and come up with a way to cook it when you’re at home because your pantry is stocked up.

Get the right equipment

You are now fully ready to plan your meals and cook in bulk. You can stick with cooking one huge batch of one meal per week or progress to making a few different dishes. Either way you need to be ready for the leftovers. Food storage containers will be essential. Spend a bit of time and money on a set of quality containers of various sizes to be safe. Make sure they are compatible with freezing, microwaving, dishwashing, or any other way you plan to use them.

With this setup you will be ready to cook in batches, do some bulk shopping, and gradually make a habit of planning. You can also keep track of the recipes you liked which will accumulate over time. Planning can become your second nature if you just get the ball rolling.

Next up in Diet Problems That Drive People Crazy (and Solutions) series