Eating a healthy lifestyle with whole foods has so many benefits for our health, mood, energy, and general well-being. Cutting out processed foods and sugars can truly make us feel like a new person! But at times, life and its demands can get in the way of claiming this lifestyle for ourselves. To help you get started and stay on track, here are three tips on how to optimize your time and money with a whole foods lifestyle.
Grocery Shopping Tips
The best place to start in making the shopping easier is creating meal plans. A meal plan is a map that tells you what to buy, when to buy it, and gives you direction and purpose while in the store. I have been using a meal plan/list approach for almost 4 years now. When I go shopping without a list I spend 2x-3x longer in the store and end up buying things that push me off my healthy food lifestyle. I am lost without it!
Ordering groceries online for pick up or to be delivered is also another excellent way to save time and make sure you only get what you NEED! This option is really great for those of us who struggle with having self-control in the grocery store. It also allows you to do it from the comfort of your home when you’re in the right head space to think about what and how much food you need.
Kitchen / Cooking Tips
Yes, once again, saving time in the kitchen begins with a plan. Decisions take time and energy. With a plan you can pick one time to make all the food decisions for the week when your brain is capable. Doing the work ahead of time allows you to move right into you can just move into auto pilot when it’s time to cook.
A food plan gives a big picture outlook of the week where you see the forest (week’s meals) versus the trees (individual meals). The advantage of this forest view is you can then assess your time availability for the week and multi-task prep work while cooking dinners. For example, let’s say Monday is steak and broccoli, Tuesday is chicken stir fry, and Wednesday is marinated bbq chicken with roasted cauliflower. Knowing what’s happening later in the week, while chopping broccoli for Monday’s dinner, you can also chop all the veg for Tuesday and Wednesday’s dinner so it’s ready to go!
With a plan in place for shopping and cooking, it saves money because the impulse buying is much less and the list contains only what is needed to make the menu items.
An easy way to save money with healthy meal planning is to assess exactly how much protein, vegetables/fruit, and grains you and your family eat — then buy exactly that. For example, I eat ½ lb of meat at dinner and my husband eats 1 lb. When I create my shopping list based on the meals I have planned, I calculate the pounds of meat I need to buy for the trip. So when I’m buying food for dinners Monday thru Wednesday I buy 4.5 lbs of meat on that trip. With this approach I find there is very little waste and everything I cook gets eaten.