A well stocked fridge and pantry is the cornerstone of our happiness and well-being. Food provides a quarter of our basic survival needs. The others being our house (shelter), what we drink (water), and our trendy threads (clothing). If we give this large chunk of our needs the respect it deserves then we should be willing to invest a little time in the planning, finding a source, provisioning, and if necessary the up-skilling needed to feed ourselves properly.
Just what it sounds like, planning is the act of thinking about in advance what you will be eating over the coming 1-2 weeks. This planning can adjust from very in-depth (for those new to planning), to just having a rough idea what you'll be having (if you're experienced with this habit). This may involve finding recipes that you're going to follow, and checking to see if there's any unusual ingredients that you'll need to get in advance.
Are you a one-stop shopper, or do you want the best suppliers for different food-types? If you're easily stressed by the shopping experience, perhaps finding a stockist that you can buy everything from will work best for you. Or, if you don't mind spending the time you can source different suppliers; a good butcher or fishmonger where you buy the meat & fish, a farmers market for fresh fruit and veg, a farmers gate for your eggs or milk, and so on.
The actual purchase and stocking of your goods only comes once you know what you need to buy. This should reduce 'impulse buying' and ensure you have everything needed for the weeks meals. A top tip is to use home delivery when you can. Online supermarket shopping can be set up to deliver weekly to your door, and provide the same basics week in and week out, saving on your time and 'willpower' stores.
Eating habits to avoid
1. Grocery shopping too often
Shopping on your way home from work each night is not only the most expensive way to shop, it also highlights what we perceive to be our weak willpower. By shopping near the end of the day we are almost certainly suffering a level of decision fatigue, as well as probably being in a hungry state too. With adequate freezer space and room in your vege chiller most foods will last 5-7 days, allowing for a weekly shop instead.
2. Eating out too often
Eating out more than once per week raises the diversion count, as well as making it difficult to prepare your lunch for the day after your dinner. Anytime you're interrupting your routine you're breaking the habit, making it a little bit harder next time for that habit to happen automatically.
3. Not knowing how to cook
As we know that our food is a major part of our ability to survive, it seems obvious that we should maintain some basic cooking skills in order to feed ourselves. For the sake of this article cooking does not include opening a packet/pouch/can and heating that processed food to be eaten. That is driving a microwave, and not the same thing. Cooking requires preparing real food ingredients into combinations that results in optimal nutrition and flavour. The more skilled you become at cooking the less you'll need to rely on processed or convenience foods, and the less appealing those fake foods will start to look.
4. Focusing on 'what not to' eating instead of 'what to' eating
This comes back nicely to your well stocked provisions. If you are focused on eating your way through all the healthy fresh meat, produce, and perishables you've purchased for that week, then you can focus on the 'what to eat' stuff, and the things you're not eating don't even become an issue. No body likes to throw out food gone bad, and with a little practice with your purchasing quantities you can avoid that happening. Just stick to your pre-planned meals and eating only from the supplies you've bought.
5. Not eating mindfully
Finally mindfulness, an innate sense that we used to have, is being lost. The ability to listen to our bodies, to stop eating before we are too full, to recognise the difference between when we're thirsty and hungry, and to enjoy our meal times more has become lost in our modern fast paced living-style. It's become a luxury to take time with habits like eating, but until we do breaking our 'clean the plate' mentality will be hard to do.
- Listen to your body. A clever system of hormones are released to tell us when to eat and when we're full. It takes practice but we can learn to pick up these signals, and also to create more mindful habits; like eating more slowly, chewing each mouthful more & putting your fork down between bites.
- Enjoy the social value of eating. Instead of dashing from lunch at your desk to a meeting, or dinner in front of the telly, try to create some time set aside for eating, away from your workspace. With family or friends is ideal as the social interaction will allows us to slow the eating process down. Have you noticed when you're having a conversation while eating, it allows the above 'listening to your body' signals to become more pronounced?