At Nourish, we encourage eating together. We invite you to join us for our community dinners. However, eating together is not an option for everybody every day, whether you live alone or are traveling for work. Here are some tips for eating healthy for one.
» Plan your meals in advance. On Sunday, plan two to three meals for the week and then purchase or thaw most of the ingredients. Write down the meal plan on a large chalkboard or write it on paper and post it on the refrigerator to hold yourself accountable.
» Enjoy leftovers for lunches. If you make a large meal on Sunday or Tuesday, plan to enjoy it one or two more times as your lunch’s main course during the week.
» Plan to freeze a portion of the meal.
Many dishes freeze well … soups especially! When a busy week arrives, you’ll appreciate the convenience of simply having to thaw out and heat something homemade and delicious.
» For breakfast, enjoy variations on the same theme each day and switch it up with the seasons. In the winter, make a large batch of hot cereal and portion it out for the week. Top it with jam or maple syrup. In the summer, enjoy toast with peanut butter and a piece of fresh fruit.
» Portion out snacks and lunch items in advance.
After you purchase a bag of carrots, a bag of celery, a bag of apples, a bag of grapes (and so on paying attention to the seasonal foods) take the time to cut them up, if needed, and portion them out into serving size containers or zipper seal bags.
» Plan for snacks!
Boiled eggs, cheese sticks, dried fruit, airpopped popcorn, or nuts are great snacks to boost your energy during the week. Prepare for it. If you don’t, you will most likely make poor choices at the vending machine or, if you’re on the road, at a convenience store.
» The freezer is a great tool. Use the freezer to store bread, vegetables or protein. When cooking for one, it can be difficult to keep up with perishable items. Portion them out in small meal sizes to make it even easier (e.g. 4 oz of chicken) to prepare a meal quickly at dinner time.
» Make the meal an event. Use a nice dish set (plain white is great!), set the table, and light a candle. That way, it felt special and forced me to slow down and enjoy the meal.
» Stop at the grocery store more often. When you’re in a pinch, rather than driving to the nearest drive-thru, consider stopping at the local grocery store. Purchase a premade sandwich or salad, fruit and a bag of pretzels. This is especially true for people that travel for work.
» Use repetition to build good habits. To create a new habit of cooking and using fresh ingredients, try cooking the same thing every evening for one week. The repetition helps develop the habit of cooking for one on a regular basis by minimizing the variables. Add new recipes as one recipe is mastered!
Heather Cleveland is the Executive Director of Nourish, a nonprofit organization that provides good food and good-food education to the community, encouraging everybody to make more wholesome food choices.