Endurance athletes like runners, cyclists and triathletes have a limited amount of time to get everything done in the day. It sometimes seems difficult to fit in healthy home cooked meals between long hours at the office, family commitments and trying to squeeze in an extra hour on the bike or few miles on the trails. We need to find ways to save time and sometimes even create time in our busy lives. Meal planning is more than just writing down some recipes and creating a shopping list. You must take into account your personal schedule, your families, what’s in season, the type of routine that fits your needs and what is in the pantry. Below are tips on how to organize your meal plans that best suit your needs.
Build A Personal Shopping List
Planner companies, gift shops and generous desktop publishers all compete to produce cute little shopping lists for all persuasions and occasions. Bear-shaped shopping lists. Long skinny shopping lists. Shopping lists with whimsical graphics, kitty-cats and teddy bears. Awwwwww….. How Cute!
Only one problem: why aren’t you using them?
Because they don’t work, that’s why. Blank shopping lists fit about as well as one-size-fits-all clothing. Each week is different, each family is unique and households are different sizes.
So what’s the solution? Build a pre-printed family shopping list on the computer, listing all the foods you and your family consumes. Print a list each week. Post it on the refrigerator. When you run out of milk, granola, salt, etc., circle it.
Make your list work: I organize it by aisle. Construct your personal shopping list according to the order you shop the store. Is the produce section first or last? This will help you get in and out fast.
Embrace the Calm of a Routine
Sunday’s a big dinner, and Wednesday gets the leftovers. Meatless Monday, and there’s Taco Tuesday, year in and year out. Thursday’s the day for a casserole, and the grill gets lit on Friday. Saturday is date night, take-out or pasta to fuel your long run the next morning.
Create a routine around your menu planning. Plan certain nights for new recipes. Just try not to do it more than twice a month.
Take a look at your work, training and families schedule. Leftovers are great for late night track workouts or sandwiches and salads on nights you are having to carpool kids around. Whatever you do, just make the routine yours.
Consider Cook’s Choice aka Pantry Raid
This is traditionally held the night before grocery shopping. It is a great way to account for real life. Use it to chop up the contents of the refrigerator for a clean-out stir-fry before the next round of menu planning.