Monday, May 27, 2013

How do you manage to fit it all in?

We lead busy lives.  I don't know anyone that doesn't talk about how busy they are.  There are the non-negotiables - work, commute time, eating, sleeping.  Then there are other things we like to do - socialize, work out, spend time with the kiddos or significant other.  

When our lives are so hectic, and we work out how many hours we have to do the non-negotiables + the things we like, it turns out there is little time to insert things like planning and cooking a great, nutritious meal.  It's just easier to get take-out, or a fatty roasted chicken from the grocery store.

Personally, a healthy, delicious meal is a non-negotiable.  My days are miserable when I eat mediocre food (yes, I'm a weirdo.)  But if you consider that everything you are, and the energy you have is primarily dependent on your nutrition and ability to convert those nutrients into sustainable fuel for you to excel throughout your day - it becomes of paramount importance.  The old adage You are what you eat really is as true as true gets.

How do you manage to fit it all in?

These are the tricks of the trade:
  1. Plan ahead.  I know - sucks, right?  But take time on the weekend, go to your local farmer's market, and buy what's in season (PS - this is a great activity to do with your family or SigO, as you browse and create importance out of this activity).  Come home, and wash it all!  Sure - there are plenty of things you'd rather do on a Sunday afternoon.  But if you wash all your produce, stick it in a bag and pop it in your fridge, you'll thank yourself all week when you come home late, starving, and need a nutritious meal or snack.  TIP: spin your produce in a salad spinner, then stick a paper towel in the bag along with your clean produce.  It will absorb moisture and prolong the freshness of your greens.  Change the paper towel mid-week.
  2. Emergencies happen. Be prepared.  I often work, then get home late after training (from a swim/bike/run), and I'm starving.  And cranky.  I need to eat...pronto.  What to do?  Have at least 3-5 emergency meals + ingredients on-hand you can prepare in a snap.  Example: Pesto sauce (recipe here) is always in your freezer!  Boil some angel hair pasta, rice noodles (they cook in 2 minutes, flat) or kelp noodles.  Kelp noodles are cool - you don't even have to cook them!  Take out your clean kale (see Tip #1), and put together a lovely salad.  Voila!  Great meal in 5 minutes, flat.
  3. Go overboard, like a good Italian.  Make a huge meal when you're cooking, then portion out one or two Tupperwares of your leftovers.  Pop them in the freezer.  Most things freeze beautifully.  If you have a deep freezer - even better.  You could literally put 3 months' worth in there (I'm jealous!)  When you're in a pinch, look in your freezer for ready-made meals.
  4. Exploit electronics.  There is nothing more beautiful than things that work for you.  I love my Roomba vacuum.  I also love my slow cooker and rice cooker.  These kitchen helpers are essential.  Use them.  Abuse them.  And love the result!
  5. Read The Trim Tart.  Check in regularly for meals that will knock your socks off, and not require hours in the kitchen (but you can spend hours if you like!)

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