In pursuit of an ideal diet, I have found that cooking your own meals is the best option. You cannot rely on fast food or restaurants for optimal nutrition. The food industry is focused on profit, so your health is not its primary concern--that is, if it even registers as a concern at all! So if we are going to be serious about reaching optimal health, by pursuing an ideal diet, we must learn to cook all of our own meals. One of the biggest challenges people face in regards to cooking healthy meals is the time required to make them. I hope to alleviate most of that difficulty by presenting some helpful tips and strategies that will save you time in the kitchen and make this goal achievable.
The first concern is managing your own schedule. How much time do you have each week? Unless you have an extremely demanding schedule, you most likely have a day or two each week that you are not required to work. You can capitalize on this time by cooking bulk quantities of food that will last you all week, or even all month! Most cooked items will easily last a week in the refrigerator, and whatever you cannot eat within a week can be frozen for a month or more. The busier you are, the farther in advance you will want to prepare and store your food. If you are very limited on time, this means cooking up enough food to last you all month or even longer. If you are less busy, you can probably get by with cooking for a week at a time. By managing your time in a careful and productive manner, you can ensure that you are eating healthy home-cooked meals every day of the week.
Once you get your schedule worked out and decide how much you want to cook up in advance, you can then get to work on deciding your menu: What do you want to eat? I am a vegan, and as I mentioned in an earlier post, I choose to be vegan because my researched has shown, and my experience has proven, that it is the ideal diet for optimal health. For me, this means cooking up large quantities of beans, veggies, and grains. If you are not vegan, you could easily modify such plans to include meat and eggs, but I refrain from these foods and would recommend that you do too.
The pictures I have included in this post show a typical meal of mine, and include all the major food groups: grains, veggies, fats (oils and seeds), beans (protein), calcium (the greens), and fruits (not pictured, eaten raw). For an ideal diet, you want to try and hit all of these food groups in every meal if possible. Personally, I tend to avoid veggies in the morning because a raw, crunchy vegetable doesn't seem appetizing so early in the day. I usually counteract this by doubling up on fruit. It is personal tastes and preferences such as this that you will need to work around when constructing your daily menu, and plan accordingly. And of course you should realize that not everything you eat will be precooked; for an ideal diet, it is necessary to eat raw fruits and veggies as well as cooked ones, if we are to absorb all of the essential nutrients our bodies require. Besides, variety is the spice of life!
So be creative and be ready to adapt. It is a good idea to have some dry and canned goods on hand as well, because there are plenty of times that I have gone to the fridge or freezer and realized I forgot to precook something or didn't go shopping like I was supposed to. Rather than let such things ruin your day (and even worse, your diet), it pays to have alternatives in place, ready to go at a moments notice. Better to have that can of beans or that packet of crackers with some nut butter and jam than it is to go to the burger joint or taco truck and have something unhealthy. By cooking your own meals you can pursue an ideal diet, and along with me, hopefully achieve optimal health. Now go cook something!