Commit to Fit | Week 27

Author | Commit to Fit 2013 Winner, Judith Zissman

I really enjoy cooking with fresh seasonal vegetables and local organic meats rather than relying on pre-made or processed foods. In the Bay Area, we’re incredibly lucky to have an amazing variety of options available. It’s easy (but not cheap) to wander into a market and come out with ingredients for a home meal that five-star chefs elsewhere in the country can only dream about.

I love strolling through the farmers’ market and coming home with an array of amazing fruits and vegetables. But here’s my sad reality: I’m not very good at meal planning, and sometimes those amazing fruits and vegetables go to waste before I have a chance to use them. I often think that I’ll “save” the beautiful cauliflower or the filet of wild salmon for another more ideal time, and then that more ideal time never comes. I need to be better about making each weeknight into the ideal moment to feed myself something special, and only buying food that I’ll have time and energy to cook. It means being realistic about choosing simple recipes (hooray for crockpots!) and prioritizing the 20-30 minutes of prep time in my busy schedule.

Planning even just a few dinners each week and shopping appropriately for them really helps to balance both your diet and your bank account. With less food waste and less time wandering through the kitchen thinking “I have no idea what I want for dinner”, it really gives you the opportunity to make more thoughtful and conscious choices about what you’re eating beyond just choosing healthy ingredients.

Fortunately, there are a lot of resources available to help us plan meals. There are well-regarded web sites and apps, like eMeals or The Fresh 20, that help you plan your meals, create shopping lists and manage portion sizes, and they come in a variety of approaches to fit your own dietary needs and preferences. You can do Paleo or Kosher meal planning, as well as gluten-free, vegetarian, low-carb or any of a number of other options. Here’s a useful chart that compares some of the leading meal planning services.

Long before the web, this kind of meal planning was a staple of women’s magazines. You can still find some gems there: here’s the Women’s Day monthly planner with archives for many months’ worth of recipes, and here are some easy meals from Martha Stewart Living.

It’s also helpful to plan with other people, even if you’re not eating with them. There’s a community site I visit frequently that checks in on Mondays about meal plans for the week, and I’ve found that pretty inspirational when I need some ideas. But mostly, like everything else, I just need to commit to doing it, not researching more tools and ideas. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes!