Still Figuring Out Meal Planning (or Will Food Ever Be Easy For Me?)

I’ve been doing pretty well lately with food stuff. It’s not something that I don’t have to think about any more, but I’m definitely spending less time every day thinking about what I want to eat or what I should eat than I used to. It’s nice not to have my thoughts always consumed by food (no pun intended), but I’m still figuring out what is right and best for me.

I know that I can cook and that I can use pretty much all fresh ingredients, but that’s not always easy for me. There are plenty of times that I realize it is dinner time and I don’t have something that I can make easily. I don’t want to risk going to the store because then I will grab everything that looks good to me at the time. So it’s important to me to have prepared meals in my house that are easy for lunches and dinners.

I’m still really loving the salads I can get from Trader Joe’s and I eat those pretty regularly for lunch (it’s easy to talk to customers and eat a salad). But I do need variety from time to time and some of my old standbys (like peanut butter and jelly) just aren’t doing it for me anymore. So I have to find other easy things to make and a lot of those things end up being frozen meals.

When I was younger, I did eat the frozen diet meals on a semi-regular basis. But honestly those meals aren’t that tasty, they have a lot of chemicals to cover up for things that are missing, they are expensive, and they aren’t a lot of food. So I’ve been exploring more frozen food options including ones that I used to consider not healthy options in the past.

I’ve been working on tracking my foods carefully and I can find ways to make the higher calorie meals work into my day. And I’m discovering that it isn’t as hard as I thought in the past. I’m not eating that high of calorie counts for my breakfasts and lunches, and if I’m not having a binge episode I do have lots of calories left for my dinner. So making stuff that I used to consider off-limits are now perfectly fine for me.

Taking away the stigma of bad foods and good foods has been really good for me. I’m exploring more food options that I never thought I could enjoy (like frozen tempura shrimp) and I’m really liking it. I’m getting more variety in my meals and that is helping to keep things from getting too boring too quickly. There are still some things that I’m trying that I know can’t be a regular part of my diet, but it’s ok to find things that are good splurge meals from time to time.

I’m eating more frozen foods than I would like, but considering the alternative for me I think this is ok. I still want to find a good balance between prepared and frozen foods and cooking from scratch and that just isn’t coming easily to me. I still get annoyed that my food issues aren’t going away as quickly as I would have liked them to, but I’m seeing progress and trying to give myself credit for it.

The baby steps of progress aren’t always easy to notice on my own, but when I reflect back on my meals for the past month or so and realize that my days under my calorie goal are outweighing the days over the calorie goal, I realize that I’ve been making progress without thinking about it or noticing. I’m still not ordering delivery food and that’s something I’m proud about as well.

Hopefully more baby steps happen to me this way and that recovery is in my future soon. It will be nice to spend even less time focusing on food when that happens and I’m excited to see what the next baby step I make will be.

4 responses to “Still Figuring Out Meal Planning (or Will Food Ever Be Easy For Me?)

  1. I very much connect with this challenge. You may have already tried this, but something that’s really changed my own eating patterns has been the food prep delivery services. It allows you to have something super tasty & fresh whenever you want, without having to think about what you’re going to make or spend the time shopping for something different each week, and — to your point — allows you to look forward to dinner so it helps to keep your eating in check the rest of the day, by desire not by harsh discipline.

    I’m vegetarian, so I’ve tried Purple Carrot and Gobble. I think they’re both great, but have slightly different pros/cons. If youre interested, let me know. 🙂

    • PS I recently started subscribing to your posts, and am enjoying all of them.

    • I used to do a meal delivery service, but those were pre-made meals. I’ve looked into the meal prep services, but they’ve been a bit out of budget (plus they make too many servings), but I’ll look into the two that you mentioned! Thanks!

      • Yes, I agree – I would definitely not recommend general restaurant/doordash delivery; that’s a totally different ballgame.

        For the prep delivery services, I think the expense depends on how much you cook otherwise. If you really do cook and don’t mind shopping & deciding on the recipes, it’s going to be more expensive than that for sure. For me, I don’t cook at all, so I would otherwise be spending hours in the grocery store looking for ingredients I’m unfamiliar with (and getting very stressed out), and spending money on ingredients I wouldn’t use again.

        I also struggled for the first several times on the portion size. I’m the only one eating it, so it’s incredibly easy to have a portion and a half, or both portions, in one night. One friend recommended freezing half the food immediately after making it — be committed to wrapping up half and sticking it in the freezer right away. That worked for her, but admittedly didn’t work for me. What worked for me was 2 things: (1) Having a huge glass of water before eating (in my case, I drink a full 24-oz smoothie-size bottle); for one thing it helped with my water intake, because I have a hard time getting all my water in each day, and for a second thing it means I’m not diving into the food starving, because the water really does settle that starving feeling, so I eat more mindfully, which is (2) Eat slowly, and stop eating for 20 minutes before going in for the second portion. Because the food is so flavorful and satisfying, it feels joyful to just sit with the satisfaction of eating it. And after 20 minutes, it’s settled and I can feel how satisfied I am and that I don’t need the second portion. And, knowing that I have the second portion to look forward to the next day, without having to spend time cooking, is really nice too.

        I’m a new subscriber, so I don’t know your particular eating & cooking habits, and I don’t want to presume anything, but this is what’s helped me.

        For anyone who’s interested, here’s a run-down of the pros/cons of the 2 services I’ve tried are:

        Purple Carrot (100% vegan, so I don’t know if that interests you or not):
        Pros — Excellent, flavorful dishes; wide variety of flavors and spices across the dishes, so that helped me feel more satisfied rather than a pb&j, or a yogurt & granola, or whatever. Always very fresh tasting. Learned how to cook different things & which flavors go together (I’m not a cook, so this was fun for me). Getting to eat vegan without spending more time or more money looking for good recipes & shopping for ingredients, etc. Nutrition information (calories, fat, protein, carbs) is written on the recipe card; I don’t track my calories & nutrition in general, but it did help me decide which dish to have which night, if I knew I’d eaten more or less that day, or if I felt like eating more, I’d have the lower calorie dinner so that I could enjoy eating more of it.
        Cons — They only have 3 dishes per week, so you don’t get a choice in what you get. And each dish takes about 40-60 minutes to make; some have an estimated prep time of 35 minutes, but I always found the average to be 45 minutes. Even if I technically have the time, if I’m hungry that can feel like an impediment to cooking.

        Gobble:
        Pros — Their slogan is 1 pan, 10 minutes, so everything is very easy and very quick to make; I will say that sometimes there are 2 pans, and typically the cooking time is 10 mins, so if you include the prep, it’s more like 20 minutes, but it’s still very quick & easy. They have multiple dish choices each week, so you can set your preference to vegetarian (though no vegan option), but if you’re not veggie, you have both meat and veggie options, and you can choose what you like. They have side dishes (e.g. soup) & beverages (e.g. mojito mix) that you can purchase as small add-ons any week; those can serve as lunches & treats. Dishes have all been tasty.
        Cons — No vegan setting; every week there seems to be 1 gluten-free dish and 1 vegan dish, but you won’t get all 3 dishes in those categories. In order to keep the prep time low, they pre-make things like sauces and marinated items, so that you can just pour them into the pan; this means that you don’t know what all the ingredients are, and the overall taste of the dish doesn’t feel quite as fresh as Purple Carrot; it’s still very tasty, but on the freshness spectrum, it’s a little lower than Purple Carrot where you’re making it right then. Also, they don’t write the nutrition information on the recipe card, so you don’t know exactly what you’re consuming.

        Again, I don’t know exactly what your journey has been, but since I’ve been through some of this, I thought I’d share in the hope that it could be helpful. Thanks for letting me post.

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