People today are busy. TOO BUSY. Many of our patients at CMC never stop running from the minute they get up in the morning until the minute they get in to bed at night. They run out the door in the morning to get to work and/or get their kids to school, work all day, and then rush to pick up their kids in the afternoon and then rush to some other activity at night (like a child’s ballgame). This kind of schedule does not leave a lot of time for meal preparation. Most of the time, people end up driving through a fast food line for every meal, or worse, skipping meals. It’s no wonder that so many people have trouble losing weight. So, what to do about it?
Plan, Plan, Plan
I plan out all of my meals. I cook two to three times per week, and we eat leftovers once for each meal. This covers me and my family for 6 dinners per week. For lunch, I have a sandwich or a salad, and sometimes I have a frozen entrée like a lean cuisine. The point is, though, that I know what I am going to eat at every meal everyday. This takes out the guesswork and the temptation to stop at a fast food place. I am rarely really hungry, because I am eating frequently, so I don’t want to overeat. It also saves money.
How to do it?
Once a week, when you have a free 30 minutes, sit down and make out a 7 day calendar. I print blank ones for free off the internet. This blank calendar is a good example.
I personally plan my meals on Sunday. I write out what I am going to eat for each meal of the day and each snack. I am 5’2”, so for me, I try to keep my calorie levels for the day at 1200. I try to keep my meals at about 300 kcal with two built-in snacks of 150 kcal in-between breakfast and lunch and in-between lunch and dinner. If you need to calculate your estimated calories for weight loss, you can do so with this Calorie Calculator.
What to cook?
I encourage you to count your calories. Many websites that give recipes will include calories per serving, like Allrecipes.com and Food.com. There are several cookbooks that also include calories per serving, like Hungry Girl: 300 under 300. I am also a huge crock pot fan. This is a great tool for busy families. You can even prepare your meal the night before, and put it in the refrigerator to pull out in the morning to heat up. Your meal will be ready and waiting when you get home that night. It is so nice to walk into your house to the smell of a home-cooked meal. If you are really, really busy, you can even take one day per month and cook all of your meals for the month in that one day. This is called Once a Month Cooking or OAMC.
There is a lot of information about how to do this on the internet. The cooked meals are then frozen to be pulled out and defrosted for the night when you are ready to eat them. These sites also give you great tips for fitting all this food into your freezer (even if your freezer is very small).
When you eat at home, or bring your lunch to work, you end up eating less calories without even trying. Plus, cooking at home is good for your whole family, as you get many more vegetables and whole grains in your diet when you cook at home.
Try this great slow cooker recipe: Slow Cooker Low Fat Hamburger Vegetable Soup
Kimberley Hatler, FNP, RD, LDN
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