Simple Habits: Meal Planning

I hope this will be the first in a series of posts about how I'm trying to live more simply, with the hope to inspire you to simplify your every day life. It certainly isn't intended to be a call to move to the woods and build a compost toilet, but more a glimpse into ways I'm trying to simplify a modern (and undoubtedly complicated) life. I've been thinking about habits a lot this year. In attempt to adjust to life as a working parent I begun to realise if I could systemise things (I'm aware of how geeky this sounds)  and create habits, some of the elements of a more multifaceted life might become a bit easier. Around this time I was listening to an episode of Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft's podcast Happier, in which they were talking about habits. Gretchen highlighted the fact that when most people hear the word habit they think of it in a negative light but actually a habit is not intrinsically positive or negative, it's just the process around which something becomes automatic. I had never thought about it like this.

Truth be told when I think about my habits they've often been negative: eating sugar when I'm bored/sad/stressed, habitually perfectionist thoughts, you get the picture, but what if I could create positive habits that made simplifying my life more automatic?

Since then I've begun developing some habits that are helping make every day go a bit more smoothly. None of these are new or mind-blowing but they are things that have been making life a bit more straightforward.

First up is meal planning. This is something I've done in the past but since having Sophia it has become a much more habitual part of life. After having a baby you soon realise that putting freshly cooked food on the table each night is not as easy as it once was. Meal planning really makes such a difference when it comes to healthy, homemade food in our house.

I try to meal plan on a Sunday evening and plan meals for the following Monday to Friday, as weekends are often more unplanned than the weekdays. I have developed a list of regular recipes, which I will share with you here in the future, but I also try to pull out the cook books every so often to shake things up.

In terms of how I actually shop, I'm still figuring it out. At the moment I'm shopping a few times a week. It may well be more simple to get an online delivery but I like the walk in to town, it massively cuts down on the packaging that I consume and it means that the food is fresher. I usually do a biggish shop on Monday and revisit in the middle/later in the week to pick up fresh ingredients. Alongside this I've developed a list of staples that I always keep topped up; rice, pasta, lentils and beans.

In the coming months I'm hoping to take this one step further and batch cook more dishes, so that meal prep doesn't always happen 15 minutes before (sometime 15 minutes after) dinner time.

As for how long it takes for something to become a habit, I think conventional wisdom says 21 days. I haven't exactly timed my habit forming but as with anything the more often you do it, the more automatic it becomes. In the end I think it's better to try and slip up than not to try at all, and for the days things don't go quite to plan, there's always pizza.

image by Laura Moss via My Domaine