David’s advice for food prep and meal planning
I won't lie, it can be very hard to eat well consistently while keeping control of everything else in your life. When time management is tricky the result can often be that we neglect our diet and slip into unhealthy eating habits. When you find yourself hungry, after a long day the thought of cooking and chopping can be off-putting, so we often end up grabbing a ready meal, making a poor quality dish or even worse, skipping a meal entirely!
What can we do in order to make things easier for ourselves?
There is no getting away from preparation I'm afraid and if we put the time in, it will go a long way. It is worth keeping in mind that when you’re putting time and effort into training for an event like the 2016 Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon, you really need to support your body by eating healthily. So what can you do?
I try to plan my meals for each day, something I grew up on to be honest. Mum was a nurse who worked nights so time was in short supply during the day. The easiest approach for her was therefore to stick to a routine of meals throughout the week. Monday was mince and spuds, Tuesday was lamb chops, Wednesday was ham, Thursday was stew, Friday was fish, Saturday was treat day (pizza and chips) and finally Sunday was a roast. So have a think and see if you can adopt a similar approach to help you fit healthy eating into your weekly plan.
If you are very pushed for time during the week, another approach could be to set aside some time each Sunday to cook a few meals you can freeze and eat throughout the week. Lasagna and fish pies are a great example of dishes that can tie you over for lunch or dinner the next day.
Spending a half hour in the evening chopping extra vegetables to use the following evening for dinner can save a lot of time. Having chopped vegetables ready for a stir fry can make eating a healthy dish a 10 minute job instead of 15 or 20 minutes after preparation.
Even buying the chopped vegetables in the super market is another option. You might end up paying a little extra but if time is precious you can still eat well as a result.
Some supermarkets and butchers sell healthy roasting dishes full of good protein sources and vegetables and all you need to do is pop them in the oven.
The slow cooker is also a brilliant addition to maintaining a healthy diet. Stews, soups and casseroles can be put together in the evening or in the morning and 8 hours later dinner is ready with minimum effort or need to stand over a pan or oven.
As with your training, the key to any plan is to stick with it. It is important to link a meal plan to your daily routine. If you know every Tuesday you are late home in the evening for whatever reason, then you need to be prepared. Wouldn't it be nice to come home to a homemade stew in the slow cooker ready to eat?
Top Tips for Food Preparation
- Compile a weekly meal plan – use my previous weekly plans to devise your own for the week ahead
- Do a weekly shop based on the ingredients you will need for the weekly plan – your pocket will thank you also when you have all that you need to hand and don’t have to do a costly “top-up” shop
- Link your meal plan to your daily routine – if you have a busy day or week ahead, prepare your meals in advance and you’ll have one less thing to think about!
- Chop vegetables for the next day
- Cook some extra dishes at the weekend and freeze them!
- Remember that while a training plan is highly important, a nutrition plan is crucial - A goal without a plan is just a wish!