We make thousands of decisions every day, and it’s been estimated that over 200 of them are related to food. Simplifying some of those decisions could free up a lot of time and brain space for other things. Enter food routines.
What’s a food routine?
It’s a common way you think about or plan your food. For some it might mean eating the same thing every day for breakfast, snacks, and lunch during the week. For others, it might mean having a couple of go-to options that you rotate. Don’t want to eat the same exact thing for breakfast every day? Food routines can still be flexible, but provide structure for your decision making.
What are the benefits of food routines?
- Reduce decision making around food and less stress
- Easier to grocery shop because you have a go-to grocery list
- Saves money and time in the kitchen with meal prep
- Create healthy habits by planning balanced meals and snacks
How to Create a Food Routine:
- Start with breakfast: Breakfast is an easy one to automate, and may offer the most benefit if you’re rushed in the morning. Pick a breakfast you enjoy and want to eat regularly, then make sure to have the ingredients. Consider prepping it the night before. A few ideas for breakfast routines include:
- Smoothie: prep your boosters! For example; measure cacao, chia and protein powder (or whatever you put in your favorite smoothie) into a small cup. Make 7 of these! In the morning just add it to the blender with frozen fruit and liquid.
- Overnight oats: make the night before so it’s grab-and-go
- Avocado toast – keep it simple with sprouted or whole grain toast, mashed or chopped avocado, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.
- Next up, create a snack routine: BeBOLD bars make an easy go-to snack that you know will satisfy and keep you full until your next meal.
- Leftovers for lunch. A really easy way to automate a healthy lunch is to make extra dinner to have for lunch. Don’t want to eat the exact same thin the next day? Try this:
- Cook extra protein (meat, chicken, fish, tofu, etc) and add it to a salad or grain bowl for lunch.
- Use leftover grains like farro or quinoa as a base for a grain bowl or in a salad.
- Serve any leftover veggies as a side to your sandwich to boost your veggie content.
- Put dinners on auto-pilot. One of the best ways to create a routine for dinner is to develop a meal plan template. If you really want to simplify things, you could plan specific dinner for each day of the week and keep the same rotation for as long as you’d like. But for those that like a little more flexibility (or to switch up what you’re eating more regularly), a flexible template using theme things can work really well.
- Monday: Mediterranean
- Tuesday: Vegetarian
- Wednesday: crockpot meal
- Thursday: meal in a bowl
- Friday: breakfast for dinner
Get creative with your themes! You can pick a favorite type of meal, a cuisine (Mediterranean, Asian), or a way to prepare it (crockpot, broil, bake, grill). By using theme nights, it’s easier to have a few go-to meals for each night and get into a regular dinner routine that requires little thought.
Sarah Gold Anzlovar, MS, RDN, LDN is a registered dietitian, certified intuitive eating counselor, and the owner of Sarah Gold Nutrition, a virtual private practice and nutrition communications consulting business in the suburbs of Boston. She empowers busy women to ditch diets and learn to eat to feel their best without the stress.