Updated: Oct 9, 2019
Okay, okay, I know the majority of people today do have crazy busy lifestyles. Working full time jobs, extracurricular's, kids, school, maybe a second job. This post is not me saying "Stop using 'I'm too busy' as an excuse".... but... stop using "I'm too busy" as an excuse.
I am a big fat liar myself. I have used this saying countless times for an excuse to eat out, or to have a whole bag of chips for dinner so that I can binge watch a TV show on Netflix right then and there instead of waiting 30 minutes while I cook my meal to watch it. Believe me, I love to relax and watch movies and be lazy, but I am not too busy to make home cooked meals.
Okay, sometimes I AM too busy to cook meals. If I know that ahead of time, I prepare for it by making larger meals the night before so that all I have to do is heat up and stuff my face. Sometimes I am too busy out of nowhere. Insert a Beyond Meat Burger from A&W. It is okay to be too busy to cook sometimes, but we need to realize when we are actually too busy, and when we are lying to ourselves.
The next time you try to tell yourself you are too busy to make a meal, make sure you aren't facing the following situations:
Your Kitchen is a Mess
Do you like working in a messy, dysfunctional work setting? Do you work better when your desk is organized? Well, your kitchen should be treated like your personal office, the cleaner more organized the office, the more room for positive outcome. I have walked into my kitchen with a plan for what I was making for dinner, looked around the kitchen and just walked out. The pan I needed is dirty, I need to move aside several items in the pantry to find what I am looking for, the garbage needs to be taken out, and the counter has last nights pasta sauce stained on it.
You worked an 8 hour day and now you're starving. Instead of one task at the office (your kitchen), you are forced with two tasks (clean the kitchen THEN make your meal). So instead of eating in half an hour, you will be waiting at least another hour before you can sit down, relax and stuff your face. You say forget it, grab the peanut butter and bread, make a sandwich and get on with your life.
If this sounds way to close to home, take the time to organize your kitchen. Make a routine of when you do the dishes. Keep a reminder of garbage day and research what can be recycled. Invest in baskets, shelves, bins, etc. to help keep everything tidy. The smallest things make the biggest difference. Also, wash the dishes as you go to avoid so much cleanup!
You Need to Prep the Items
TRUST ME, I am the worst with this one. I know exactly what I am going to make, I have all the ingredients, but I just can't be bothered to clean, peel, cut, and prep the vegetables, chicken, potatoes, etc. The prep work is going to take 20 minutes and I want to eat NOW.
My advice to you: just do it. Turn on some music you enjoy and turn prepping into some personal "you" time. If you are really pressed for time, buy pre-cut veggies or pre-seasoned meat, but only use this as a backup!
You Don't Know What to Make
You have lots of groceries in the fridge but you lack the motivation or creativity to turn them into a meal. You've opened the fridge and closed it several times waiting for an idea to pop into your head. You know you need to eat those mushrooms up before they go bad, but what do I pair with it?
Internet is your best friend! Utilize the tools around you. If you cant find a recipe with all the ingredients you have, post on Facebook, call a friend/relative who likes to cook for advice or just throw everything together and see what you come up with!
Another tip is to plan your meals for the week, specifically buy the ingredients for those meals and write them down so you don't forget!
You Don't Have Any Groceries
Maybe you know exactly what you are craving but you don't have any of the ingredients. Maybe you have been too busy to go to the grocery store and you don't have all the ingredients to complete a meal.
Ask yourself: 1. Do I need those ingredients or can I substitute something else?
2. Do I have time to run to the store?
3. Can I make something else?
You Waited Too Long and You're Hungry NOW
Routine. Routine. Routine. That's the only true way you are going to break this bad habit. If routine is unrealistic, make sure to have healthy snacks on hand at all times to get you through. Have a small snack while prepping dinner and give yourself a smaller portion when the meal is done. Problem solved.
You Are Tired or Lazy
Arguably the most common reason for not making home cooked meals. There is no need for an explanation for this one. You just feel too run down, tired or lazy to get up and put the effort in.
I said it once, I'll say it again. Just do it. Commonly you feel tired or lazy because you haven't moved around enough during the day. If that is the case, moving around will make you feel better. You will feel happier, more energized and eager once you get up and move around. If you are tired or lazy because you work a strenuous job, think to yourself "what's another 20 minutes".
You'd Have To Cook Separate Meals
Are you dealing with a picky household and you know that one home cooked meal does not fit all? You dread figuring out what you, your hubby/wifey and kids will all enjoy. You don't want to slave over the stove for 30 minutes just for no one to like it.
There are two ways of looking at this one:
1. Does it really matter? If you are making the meal, does everyone have to like it? (this being the picky eater is a spouse, or able bodied teenager or human who can cook for themselves)
2. Find a common ground. Pick a main dish you know everyone enjoys, and add different sides. Typically the main dish (like meat, meat alternative, casserole, etc.) takes the most prep work, so focus on something that everyone enjoys, and add in side dishes for everyone. Steamed vegetables, baked potatoes/sweet potato, salad, rice etc. take much less time and effort to make.
You are Actually Too Busy
Okay so you are actually too busy to make a home cooked meal, but are you too busy every single night of the week? If not, meal prep can be your best friend. Make larger meals and separate into individual containers for lunches and dinners for the whole family to enjoy.
Too busy every single night of the week? How do you live? Just kidding. You have got to find time to make yourself healthy meals, because even if life is too busy, you may only have a short one if you live on fast food (harsh but true). Find recipes that are 20 minutes or less, with minimal ingredients to help you adjust to cooking at home.
If any of the above reasons resonates with you, you are not along. There are many options to help you find time and motivation to cook your own meals. The benefits outweigh the odds on this one. If this sounds like you every day of the week, start with trying to cook home cooked meals every Tuesday (or any easier day of the week). When that becomes a habit, continue with another day of the week and so on.
If you are having trouble knowing what to eat, what's healthy and what's not, or you think a diet plan would be better for you, feel free to contact me for a consultation.
Thanks and enjoy those pure, home cooked meals!!