budgeting, lunch, snacks

Planning ahead: In life and meals

I often say that a person’s best quality usually has a reverse, which is their worst quality. I feel this way about my own ability to plan ahead.

On the one hand, planning ahead has helped me accomplish a lot. I finished college, grad school, more grad school, got a rewarding job, an apartment in a city I love. For an achievement-junkie like myself, these things were very important to me.

However, my inclination towards planning and manifesting can also get me into trouble. I have a hard time going with flow when I have a clear vision of what I want. My therapist calls this “set shifting” or cognitive flexibility. I spend so much time thinking about the future and how to get there, I undervalue the present.

Finding a balance between serenity and ambition has been the great struggle of my 20’s.  Yet both have served me well.

I’m giving this preface because today’s post is all about indulging your inner planner.

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For those of you who work a 9 to 5 (or a 6-3, or a 10-7), you know that preparing a healthy lunch on the regular is easier said the done. Most days it’s all you can manage to grab that $5 sandwich or that $10 salad. But this kind of daily spending adds up to almost $50 a week…before coffee.  Not to mention how hard it is to make healthy choices in a food court.

For all these reasons I like to spend the last few hours of my Sundays on meal preparation for the week ahead. So for today’s post I thought I’d break down that process into a few easy steps…

STEP 1: Cook up some whole grains

Healthy grains are a staple of my monday-friday diet. They keep you satisfied, full and help me stave off that 3pm crash. My favourite is to cook a big pot of short-grain brown rice, then add a little salt, pepper and a hefty scoop of tahini.

STEP 2: Ready the snacks

Everyone has different preferences when it comes to snacking, but some of my favourites right now include:

  • hummus and veggies
  • berries
  • raw cashews or almonds
  • steamed eggs
  • dates stuffed with nut butter

STEP 3: Prepare your protein

When I’m planning for lunches, I always try to add some kind of protein to my meal. Typical suspects include: tofu or tempeh, chickpeas or lentils, grilled chicken or eggs.

STEP 4: Chop, chop chop

Obviously with my vegetable-heavy tendencies, this is an essential component of meal for me. Whether it’s chopping zucchini for salads, carrots for snacks or broccoli for dinner, getting this legwork out of the way will save you time and cleanup all week long. You’ll thank yourself.

STEP 5: Pack it up

This is my favourite part! When you’re all done, the last step is to pack everything into jars or tupperwares so that it’s ready and waiting for you to grab whenever you choose.

And finally…

STEP 6: Leave it in the fridge if you want to

If your coworkers are going out for sushi or you’re really craving a burger, go do that instead and save your perfectly packed lunch until the next day. Because planning ahead doesn’t mean forgoing life, as it happens. 

 

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