One of the most common complaints (err, excuses) that I hear from individuals is that they don't have enough time to cook meals. Over the past month, I have found myself wishing for a few more hours in the day and wondering where the time goes and if I can find it..... and get some back.
Two things that I prioritize at the top of my daily-functioning list are sleep and exercise. Both make me feel great, allow me to re-charge and help me feel productive. As my good sleep habits make for a consistent exercise routine, I must prioritize the food in my diet in order ensure optimal health and performance gains.
If you are coming home extremely hungry because of a rushed/busy schedule or you are coming home hungry after work, I would completly agree with you that it would be hard to cook a 30 or 60 min. meal. Sure, some meals can be prepared and consumed within 15 minutes but it's likely that most meals involve a little time for prep and cooking (or assembly).
Sometime ago, our society dismissed the idea that we need to make time to cook and eat at home. We (society) suddenly decided that there wasn't enough time in the day to take time for our health...but there is plenty of time for X (fill in the blank with what keeps you too busy to create a wholesome meal to provide nutrients to your body to help reduce risk for disease, help maximize performance and improve well-being). For my parents made time to cook for me and my grandparents surely cooked for my parents. I believe that it is necessary for our health to know exactly what we are putting into our body and to have control over how much we eat.
Earlier today, one of my former nutrition athletes sent me a picture of her lunch. She said that that it was yummy and it made her smile. I love these emails and I get them often. You have no idea how much I love it that people are taking pictures of homecooked meals because they are impressed or inspired by their own personal creations.
I think we all have an hour in the evening. No matter how busy we are, if you are cleaning the house, watching TV, playing with kids or catching up on emails...it's like you can find an hour in your evening (or morning) to prepare a few meals.
If you have an hour, that's great! However, can you spend that hour cooking a meal when you are extremely hungry after you come home from errands, work or extracurriculars/workouts? NOPE!
You must set yourself up for good behavior. One of my easiest suggestions is to plan for a pre-meal snack. Nothing big but enough to curb cravings and hunger. I like to snack on veggies as they are nutrient dense and don't pack a lot of calories (but rather a lot of nutrition). However, I am also a big nut lover and enjoy snacking on a few walnuts and almonds as I am chopping produce for my upcoming meal. The idea is to not obsess about calories in the pre-meal snack but to keep it small and satisfying enough, to hold you over to ENJOY cooking a dinner meal (as well as preparing extra for lunch the next day).
Although a pre-meal snack can help calm down your tummy as you look forward to making a yummy creations, preventing cravings, overeating and quick eating start as soon as you wake in the morning.
In a former blog post I discussed about making a plan for your eating...just like you have a training plan. I recommend focusing on your "sports nutrition" in order to properly fuel and recover from exercise FIRST and then plan the rest of your day. As you focus for balance in the diet, with 3 fabulous meals (starting with breakfast or a protein-rich snack within 90 minutes of waking if not working out) and several snacks to fill in nutrient-gaps, always think back to previous meals and snacks to keep your diet filled with variety.
As I was cleaning my place, folding laundry and packing for our trip to the NC mountains this weekend, I prepared the most simple and best-tasting meal (no joke, it was SO yummy!) with NO ADDED INGREDIENTS!
I hope you can find a little time in your day to prepare a homecooked meal. Remember, aim for progress, not perfection....if you struggle with cooking at home, start with 1 simple meal with a base of frozen veggies (which offer similar or sometimes better nutrition value compared to fresh) or pre-chopped produce.
I hope you enjoy my fabulous meal....so glad I made leftovers for work tomorrow (for both Karel and me!).
Brown rice (cooked in water on stove and then "browned in oven" for 10 minutes
Red potatoes (tossed in olive oil and cooked at 425 degrees. Sprinkled with parsley, chili pepper and a dash of sea salt)
Veggies (Green and Red bell peppers, onions and steamed broccoli - tossed in olive oil, cooked at 425 degrees and sprinkled with sesame seeds and no salt seasoning).
Because Karel and me both have different nutritional needs, this meal allows for everyone in your family to choose their own portions. I added 1 hardboiled egg to my meal to go with the brown rice (I didn't have beans but that would make for a complete protein) and then served mostly veggies in the middle of my plate and added the red potatoes to the side of my dish. YUM!