Organization and Planning
Saturday, January 05, 2013
The next thing I want to talk about is how being organized and planning your meals ahead of time can really help with losing weight.
For those of you who struggle with being organized, just realize that this is also something that won't happen overnight. I am a naturally tidy and organized person and I find that I get more done because of it, but I know for some people it's overwhelming and they struggle with it. So, take baby steps to get things in order and don't expect it to be done in a day. Planning things ahead of time, like meals, snacks, and workouts, is a part of being organized and helps relieve some stress, at least for me.
One thing I have found really helpful is to get your kitchen area of your home organized and decluttered. I spend a lot of time preparing foods, and if I didn't have tools within reach that I use regularly, it would be more difficult and I know I'd be less likely to do it. I have measuring spoons and cups in a drawer that is easily accessible. Healthy snacks are kept on a shelf in the pantry where they eye level so I see them first when I open it. Once a week, I go through my fridge and get rid of any old food and make a list of what I need. I believe in keeping things well stocked, but not in over stuffing the fridge or pantry so you don't even know what you have.
I went through my pantry shelf by shelf and checked for expired things and I got rid of unhealthy things and slowly stocked it with staples like oats, whole wheat flours and pastas, healthy snacks, etc. If junk food isn't in your house, you can't eat it, so this really does help. When we do have junk in the house, I tell my husband to put it someplace I don't see it, or I put it behind other things. I often forget it's even there. This doesn't always work, but it does sometimes. :)
Each week I think of the meals I want to eat for dinner and lunch. Breakfasts are easy for me because I eat things like oatmeal, eggs, waffles and cereal which we always have on hand. Dinners are harder because I try to come up with things we all like, but that doesn't always happen when you have 2 picky kids and a husband. So, I ask them what they want too, and if it's something I don't want to eat, I will get something else for me to eat, such as veggies to make a simple salad. Once you plan out a few meals for the week and then check your pantry and fridge for what you need to have to cook them, it's much easier. I often eat leftovers for lunch, or salads or sandwiches, so I make sure I have meat and the bread I use. Having a list when you go into the store keeps you from overspending and buying things impulsively, many of which aren't the healthiest.
When I plan my meals ahead of time, I end up staying within my calorie range, which leads to weight loss. Of course you can't plan every single meal of your life, things come up, but if you can most of the time, it will make a big difference. You will eat healthier and save money. We don't usually eat a lot of meals out, and when we do I try to look up the nutritional information before going out. Times I haven't, I end up regretting it, because it's so easy to go over your limit, and if you do this too often you don't lose weight.
Don't despair if your kitchen is a mess. Commit to 10-15 minutes a day (or when you have some extra time) to get it straightened up the way you want it. I keep Pam spray right by the stove, and I do the same thing in the fridge where my healthy snacks are what I see first when I open it. I find that when the kitchen is in order I want to cook. Planning out and organizing at least half of your meals for the week really helps keep you in control.
My biggest suggestions when it comes to organizing and planning are:
Don't tear your whole kitchen apart trying to get it perfect. You will have a huge mess on your hands and be overwhelmed. Work on a drawer or cabinet at a time and save the rest for later. Same thing with going through your pantry. If you have duplicates of kitchen tools or just stuff you know you'll never use, stick it in a bag for good will or see if a friend could use it. Less stuff makes your life simpler and you're not spending forever looking through drawers and cabinets for things you need.
Make sure you aren't starving when you go the store. I like to go after I've had breakfast. When I am hungry and go, I end up buying way more snack type foods and wanting to eat them as soon as I get home.
Don't get overly excited about making a bunch of new recipes or new foods you haven't tried yet all at once. You'll end up spending too much money and might not get around to cooking/preparing all of it before it goes bad.
Buy things in bulk IF they are things you will use up in a reasonable amount of time. Freeze things for later. This saves time and money.
Keep a notebook where you write down meal or ingredient ideas and then add them to your grocery list for when you shop.
Do not buy trigger foods. I will talk more about this later, but a trigger food is any food that you know once you buy it you have a very hard time not overeating it. I didn't let mine in the house for a long time. You need to set yourself up for success.
If you don't have one, get yourself a nice new water bottle, or even a nice tote to pack your lunch for work. Prepare your lunch the night before if you can.
Stock up on some healthy things that can be microwaved. I know a lot of people will give me flack for this, but there are just some nights when you do not feel like cooking. I keep a few Amy's frozen burritos and lean cuisines, canned soups, etc on hand to have when I don't know what to make or I am just feeling tired or there is something going on where I don't have as much time to cook. I find this is much better than spending money on fast food and you end up eating healthier.