If your goal is to start eating cleaner, that probably means you will be spending more quality time with your kitchen. Most of my clients say that their biggest obstacle is cooking at home and preparing meals. Here are some tips and tools to prepare you for battle, so that you can come out strong and prepared!
1. Anyone can learn anything, if you take the time to figure it out. I hear people say "I just can't cook!" Yes, you can, but it is a skill that requires patience and learning experience. Make the time, and take your time, until you figure out a system that works for you.
2. Utilize your ENTIRE kitchen for efficiency. You can use your stovetop, oven, steamer, crockpot, microwave, blender, and coffee grinder to get things done. The freezer is another overlooked method to staying on top of your game. Make a list of ways you can prepare your meals in your own kitchen.
3. Tools- Some are absolutely necessary, and some are luxuries. As long as you have the basics, you can get started. Don't use the "well I don't have ____ so I can't start my diet" excuse. You can get all of your mandatory tools for under $30 if you shop right. I'll make this simple.
Things you NEED: Measuring cups, measuring spoons, food scale (it doesn't have to be fancy, it just has to work), a good kitchen knife, at least one pot, one baking dish, and containers/tupperware, plasticware, and a carrying bag (a cooler is preferred, but a grocery bad works just fine.)
Things that are NICE: Cutting boards, various shapes and sizes of containers/bags, glass tupperware, a knife, Vitamixers & Juicers, food choppers/processors, 6pack bag coolers, freezer packs, single and your mom's fine china.
4. Now that you have your tools, you will need your material: food. The one diet that doesn't work is the one without food. If you are fortunate enough to have access to and can afford fresh, high quality, organic, GMO/pesticide free foods, I encourage you to. But if you are not so fortunate, like me, you can still make it work. Name brands aren't always better. I suggest less packaged foods and more whole foods in your cart. If all you can afford is store-brand eggs, tuna, and rice, and frozen chicken breasts, that's okay. Just do what you can.
5. Put it into action. Don't just buy everything you need and leave it in the cabinets or refirdgerator and forget about them. Try this:
Put your meats/fish and dense vegetables (potatoes) in the oven or crockpot.
While those are cooking, cook your grains on the stovetop or in a rice cooker.
While those are going, chop your fruits and vegetables and if you need to, cook your veggies on a stovetop.
It doesn't have to look pretty, it just needs to be edible.
ONCE EVERYTHING IS DONE COOKING, set out the number of containers for as many days and meals you wish to prepare (3 meals for 3 days would be 9 containers). Measure everything into small portions directly into containers. Try weighing all of your meats first into individual containers, then add the grains, then vegetables, then add your oils, etc. You can also crack your eggs and store them in the freezer ahead of time, until you are ready to cook them. Measure oils into an ice cube tray, and pop them out when you need them. Measure protein powder and nuts into baggies. Partially prepare foods the night before if you can. Create your own system. This way you can quickly prepare days worth of food, or a week's worth, depending on what you prefer.
6. Place your containers in stacks in the refrigerator. You can also move some up the the freezer until mid-week, then switch them to the refrigerator to keep them fresh all week. Label your tupperware or use different colored lids to make them quick and easy to grab in a hurry.
7. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR FOOD AT HOME! So many people cook the food, then waste it because it never left the refrigerator. Stock your fridge at work. Leave emergency foods in your car, gym bag, purse, locker, etc. If you have a cooler, grab your meals a fork, and an ice pack and take it with you everywhere. If not, shove your containers in a grocery bag and make sure to throw a fork in there too. Even if you think you will be back home to eat your meals, bring them anyway. Stuff happens.
You will probably burn things, undercook things, and forget things at first. You may not be Top Chef, but the only way to get better is to stick with it. Research cooking tips and measurement conversions online if you need to.
The point is, that if you take the time to prepare yourself, you WILL be successful. Part of the preparation is learning yourself, your routine, and what your obstacles are. Just take one step at a time each day, and make one improvement each week, and you'll be a pro at eating clean.