A Little Backstory
So today I was sitting down and looking through recipes and for one of them, an egg salad sandwich, it called for the ingredients to be mixed together, chilled, and then later combined into a sandwich. Reading this, I thought to myself, "Huh, that means you have to plan lunch earlier on in the day and make it ahead of time."
And then it hit me that my thinking was absolutely backwards. I realized that I expected meals to be completely thoughtless and easy. I know that I personally tend to make lunch when I'm starting to get a little bit hungry (unless of course I'm bringing food to work). Part of this thoughtlessness is because I feel comfortable in the kitchen, and part of it is because I keep a lot of the same foods in my pantry and fridge... Those meals become routine for me.
Jolting Back to Reality
The truth is that this was one of those eyes-wide-open moments. I realized that while I may take food for granted, I was overlooking the importance of meal planning. I had become stuck in a rut and looking for new and exciting meals would help me to break this. I think that this lack of consciousness about our meals is contributing to the desire for fast and easy. Unfortunately fast and easy are often traded for (although not always!) nutritious.
I'm thankful I had this mini wake-up call and I hope sharing it can cause you to think twice about your own meal planning. In planning one meal (or in the case of most of us grad students; a dish that will last for several meals) making those decisions may lead to healthier choices. Meal planning gives the individual time. It allows time to select recipes and look up new preparation methods. It provides time to shop the best ingredients afforded, and allows several points along the road to make nutritional decisions. The average person makes about 250 food decisions daily. If those food decisions are for foods consumed today as well as tomorrow, you may have greater control over the healthfulness of the meal. Incorporating meal planning into your weekly grocery and cooking routine can only help over the long run.
How do you feel? Are you aware of most of your food decisions? Or realize you're making them in the kitchen or at the point of purchase? Do you find it hard to think ahead of time when it comes to food and meal planning?
Questions, anecdotes or comments welcome!