Planning for a Healthy Life
Planning for a Healthy Life
When you’re juggling a busy life, it’s easy for your health to fall to the bottom of your priority list. Time is one of the most common reasons I hear that people struggle to eat well, fit in exercise or take time for self-care. It’s easy for time to run away from us, but a bit of forward planning can really make the difference. Making eating well and exercise convenient will mean you’re much more likely to make it a priority rather than just expecting it to happen.
I have found I have to be fairly rigid in my approach to planning my health – I have a lot on! It’s in my nature to be fairly disciplined, but if even if you prefer to be a bit more spontaneous in life, it’s still worth taking a more structured approach to certain elements of your lifestyle. As well as saving time, by planning meals you’ll save money, buying only what you need and wasting less food. This is how I approach each week:
- Once a week I sit down and plan things for the coming week. I have a little table I keep in OneNote so I can access it from whatever device I’m on. Then if dinner inspiration strikes or I’ve got 5 mins whilst I’m standing in a queue, I can note it down and get ahead.
- I start by making a note of where I’m going to be and anything the rest of the family has on (e.g. if my husband is away with work, I need only cook for me that evening), or if I’m out for dinner.
- I then plan in my exercise sessions around that – there’s no point in thinking I’ll run one evening if there’s no one to look after the children!
- Next I look at meals, depending on who’s in for dinner. I don’t usually plan breakfasts (there’s my spontaneity!), but have ideas for lunches and dinners. If I’m lacking inspiration, I can look back over previous weeks to see what we’ve not had for a while. As I complete the sheet, I jot down the ingredients I’ll need on the shopping list.
- Once that’s done, I’ll hop online and order my shop. Online shopping saves so much time – it usually takes me less than 15 mins. I’m less tempted by stuff I don’t need too.
- I usually plan on a Friday when I have a quieter day and get the stuff delivered the following Tuesday when there are no delivery charges.
I know this sounds like a faff, but I promise you it will save you so much time over the course of a week! Even if you don’t fancy mapping out each day, planning 5-6 lunches and dinners during the week that you can cook as you fancy them will still be more effective (and cheaper) than the late night supermarket dash on the way home.
Other things to think about that make life easier are:
- Batch cooking. I always make double of things like spag bol so I can defrost it for a quick healthy meal. I also make salads for lunch two days at a time.
- Are you going to be late home one day? If so, plan something quick and easy for that evening or plan to eat something from the freezer. You’re less likely to head for the takeaway if there’s something even quicker at home
- Make some soup – not only is this a great way to use up leftover veg, you can freeze it in portions and it’s a quick and easy thing to grab for lunch
- Don’t forget to think about how it all fits together. If you’re having a roast on Sunday, plan to use the leftovers for a stir fry or risotto on Monday or Tuesday. If you’re planning something using ingredients that don’t keep well, aim to have them at the start of the week just after you’ve done the shopping, rather than at the end of the week when they’ve gone off
- Have a couple of emergency meals in your repertoire you can whip up with what you usually have in your fridge. Mine would be some kind of veggie frittata or a super quick veggie curry using tinned tomatoes, curry paste and whatever veg is in the fridge.
- Schedule your exercise into your diary like an appointment. Make it easier for yourself by incorporating it into your daily life e.g. cycling to work if you can. If you’re exercising first thing, get your kit out the night before.
- Similarly, think about time to relax – schedule it in if you have to! I always try and diarise at least 30 mins to get out of the office at lunchtime for a walk.