By Jennifer Davis Rash
Each day on my way to and from work, I pass a large sign advertising a farmers market that has taken place each Saturday all summer. I’m within a few miles of a variety of farmers markets around town. And I’m only two hours from my absolute favorite farmers market — my dad’s garden.
I really have no excuse not to eat fresh, whole fruits and vegetables all summer. They are easily accessible and affordable.
But as summer is coming to a close, I realize I have only stopped at one farmers market this year and enjoyed one Sunday dinner straight from the garden at mom and dad’s.
So many opportunities to eat healthy, fresh food from local farmers wasted — all because I didn’t take the time to do it.
How many times do we let life’s rapid pace prevent us from eating properly?
Planning meals means sitting down to think through what we know how to cook by heart versus what we need a recipe for — and then finding the recipes we need.
From there, we decide what will be the main dish and side dishes and how much to prepare. And what to have for dessert, of course!
Next come the grocery list, the trip to the grocery store and preparation for cooking the meal. Oh yes, and then we actually have to cook the meal and sit down to eat it. Whew! That takes a lot of time.
Even eating healthy snacks takes time because there is typically some type of preparation involved, especially with fruit.
I have tried to find ways around actually making the time to do what needs to be done, but there’s really no substitute for properly planning, preparing and enjoying meals and snacks. Otherwise we end up eating easy-to-grab processed foods, which have little to no nutritional value, or filling ourselves with fast food, which is pretty much all bad news. We also routinely eat high-calorie and high-fat foods as we rush around, consuming more than we should because we are eating too fast.
Taking time out to focus on eating properly must become a priority if eating properly is going to be a priority, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
Some experts suggest once a month cooking, preparing a month’s worth of meals and freezing them. Each night, you pull tomorrow’s meal out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator so it is ready to heat up.
Others say to sit down once a week and plan each day’s menu, developing a grocery list as meals are decided. Make one grocery store run, and then all you have to do is follow the schedule for the week.
Still others say not to spend time worrying about a variety of meals. Instead develop a simple (even boring) plan for eating that fulfills health goals and stick with a strict set of meals that you eat over and over. This simplifies everything because you only have to plan once, you aren’t running all over the grocery store looking for various ingredients and preparation will be speedy. This method also helps move people from “living to eat” to “eating to live” because meals become functional, not so much enjoyable, some fitness experts say.
I’m not sure I’m ready to fully commit to any of these yet, but I have already started carving out time to plan and prepare healthier meals and snacks. And I’m working really hard to get out of the daily “what should we do for dinner?” discussion.
In just a few weeks’ time, this little bit of focus has brought about an amazing transformation in the Rash household’s pantry and refrigerator.