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Eat healthy– even when you are too tired to cook!

no guilt

Many of us can relate to feeling burned out when it comes to cooking every day. It’s fun when we’ve got the time and energy to make something that’s tasty and satisfying to eat. But not so much when we’re feeling physically or mentally exhausted and can barely think about food, let alone go grocery shopping or cook. So, we start thinking “I can always order something from (fill in the blank.)” Unfortunately, this cooking fatigue can lead to making unhealthy choices, and relying on eating out can easily make your habits shift.

Ideally, I encourage my patients to plan for 1-2 days of the week where they have things ready and don’t have to worry about cooking or grocery shopping. So, they have a plan for those days. This can be helpful when it comes to staying on track with healthy eating.  Here are some other tips that can help as well:

Simplify the Planning. Don’t stress over your meal planning process. Just augment your basic pantry supplies with fresh seasonal produce each week, then create meals from your supplies each day.

Prepare ahead of time: Meal planning doesn’t mean cook for the week only. Don’t get me wrong, if you have the energy and time--go for it. This might not be possible for everyone. If this is the case for you, do some preliminary preparation. Have your proteins already marinated, and chop and wash your vegetables before stocking them in the fridge. Make some quinoa or brown rice for the week so you don’t have to think about it later. Having, two or three things made ahead of time can be very helpful! 

Pre-made Foods: If the idea of doing any type of cooking or meal prep is giving you major anxiety, frozen foods can help you. There are great frozen food options that are nutritionally balanced and taste good. Frozen vegetables can also be huge helpers in this situation, since they don’t need much cooking and are still packed with nutrients. You can also make a bigger portion on the cooking days and freeze them to have them later in the week.

Try one new recipe a week. Don’t pressure yourself to cook a new recipe each night of the week. Pick just one day of your week—your easiest day of the whole week—to cook a new recipe that caught your eye. You can use blogs, cookbooks, or a magazine for inspiration

Plan for leftovers. Plan to have one day of the week for leftovers. You just need to make sure you have enough to have a full meal when you cook and leftovers to save and take the pressure off cooking every day of the week.

Snack plate: There’s no rule that snack foods can’t be dinner foods! For an easy meal, make a snack plate by throwing a bunch of different snack foods on a dinner plate. Just make sure you have at least four different foods on the plate, and make sure there is some amount of carbohydrate, fat, vegetables and protein included.

Order out: When you’re too tired to cook, don’t cook! Takeout is a great option, especially if you order enough to have leftovers the next day. I believe in balance.  We need to enjoy eating out without guilt.