Over the years I’ve tried to automate my food. I don’t want to think about it or stress about it. I want to have it available, be quick and meet my nutritional goals. When the time is right I will cook and think about food pairings. Most of the time though I’m just trying to make eating easy.
Growing up meal time was a combination of foods that seemed to fit together. It was clear that some planning had gone into the choices. Usually a main course and a side dish or two. There were always rolls and some type of dessert. All of the food hit the table at the same time. Everyone sat together and stayed at the table until the meal was over.
Confession: I don’t eat traditionally— from the nutritional perspective or the time perspective. It doesn’t work for me. My nutritional needs are different than they were when I was eight, as is the time available to make it and eat it. Most of the time I’m eating with the intent to get some fuel in myself before undertaking the next task. It might be coaching a session, getting to the gym on time or trying to get to bed at a decent hour. The less I have to think about it, the faster it gets done and the more energy and focus I have for the next task.
Prioritize: Usually I select the protein first. Unless it’s a salad with lean protein included I eat the protein and when I’m done go back to figure out what the vegetable is. As long as I’ve hit those components I don’t worry too much on how I would be judged on Chopped. If I made it to the second round I’d be eliminated immediately due to my second meal probably looking very much like the first with a different sauce.
If I haven’t had a chance to make anything, or have run out of proteins at home, most grocery stores have some precooked foods that fit the bill; rotisserie chicken, pork loin or turkey breast. Grab a few of those and slice off a chunk when needed. Those can last a few meals and often do.
How you flavor each of those provides the variety. Buffalo hot sauce, homemade chipotle aioli, Sriacha or different flavors of hummus all bring different tastes. I vary those more than the protein itself.
Make it a habit: I eat the same thing for breakfast almost daily. Right now it’s a banana with natural peanut butter and some ground cinnamon. Before that it was Greek yogurt with peanut butter, cinnamon and some flax seeds. Before that it was a protein smoothie. I don’t have to think about it, I just get up, make it and eat it.
Breakfast food is another go-to option for me anytime of the day. Eggs, lean sausage, bacon or maybe some cheese and avocado.
Recently I made an egg in an avocado, in the oven. Pretty good.
Prepare: If I have time I try to cook enough of something on the weekend to last most of the week for both lunch and dinner. Hamburgers (no bun), chicken, meatloaf (no breadcrumbs) or meatballs. That satisfies my protein requirement. I don’t generally get tired of eating the same things— I actually like the ease and consistency. There are phases where one or more of the foods dominate the menu until I’ve eaten so much of them that it’s time for a break.
I’d much prefer to make something to eat each day but it often just doesn’t work out that way. When the opportunity is available I do it, but the rest of the time I don’t stress about it.
Make it easy: My go-to vegetable is broccoli slaw. Open the bag, pour some into a bowl…done. Alternatively I’ll have some green and red peppers, apple, cherries, or pineapple to meet my fruit and veggie requirements.
Sometimes I combine the protein and veggies and turn it into a salad.
This philosophy might work for you or not. You might have a system that hasn’t occurred to me, one that works best for you.
As long as you are covering your nutritional bases and are seeing the results you want then stick with it.
At Ignite Fitness we use outcome based decision making. If what you are doing is working, then stick with it. If what you are doing is not working then it’s time for you change something. Maybe it’s your menu or maybe it’s your mindset. Find what does work for you and stick with it.
Don’t apologize that it’s not what other people consider normal. Be content that it works for you.