Eating Healthy With MS
Preparing more of the meals that you eat definitely puts you in the position to put high-quality fuel in your body. If you are just joining this conversation, please be sure to check out the first and second articles in this series where I reviewed some of the benefits of home cooking as well as some specific strategies to make it easier to cook more of your meals. Here are a few more tips…
Make Your Own Cycle Menu(s) aka A Customized Meal Plan
If you have ever eaten lunch in a school cafeteria or had an extended stay in a hospital you have experienced a cycle menu. Cycle menus usually include 2, 3, or 4 weeks of menus. This approach prevents having the exact same meal every week. You could create your own cycle menus that will reduce the time needed to plan each week! Once you have enough “cycles” created, you can put it on autopilot and reuse/repurpose weekly menus. In other words, do the thinking and deciding just once.
You can expand this idea even further… Imagine a collection of seasonal menus that include lots of fresh seasonal produce and or your favorite seasonal recipes. If you include optional celebratory or special occasion recipes in each seasonal cycle then you won’t have to scramble for an idea. Of course, you can experiment with new recipes and update the cycle recipes and menus to keep it fresh while still eating healthy.
Keep recipes and grocery lists together in a notebook or an app like the AnyList app for even more convenience.
Planning For Leftovers (Prepare Your Own Frozen Meals!)
Any time you cook a big batch of soup, chili, stew or other favorite consider freezing it in portions that would make it easy to pull it out of the freezer for a quick and painless meal. Once your freezer becomes full of foods that you know you (and your family) enjoy, you will be able to serve up a nourishing and tasty dinner without too much chaos.
One additional bonus step: in addition to labeling and dating each item as it goes into the freezer, consider keeping a running list of what is in the freezer. Perhaps a list in the same notebook that contains all of your menus and recipes. Or in the AnyList app (or similar) that is on your phone. This way you will always know what your meal options are!
Batch Cooking and Advance Prep for Eating Healthy
One of the benefits of having a plan is that you know what is coming. You know what veggies need to be chopped what grains will be required and what proteins will be needed later in the week. The point of batch cooking is to prevent starting from scratch every night. Cooking grains (like brown rice, quinoa or oatmeal), or proteins (like beans, or roasting a chicken) at the beginning of the week makes meal prep during the week a lot easier. Chopping veggies or cleaning salad greens can also make mid-week meal prep a lot less hectic.
When you are having one of those nights, how nice would it be to step into the kitchen to find that dinner is already half prepared? A little time invested early in the week will pay off as the week goes on.
Do You Have Obstacles Not Addressed By These Tips?
The tips and strategies offered here are ones that I have used, or that clients have found helpful. If you are having difficulty with something not specifically mentioned in here, consider meeting with a registered dietitian who understands multiple sclerosis or an occupational therapist (OT)… they can help you to problem solve solutions to your specific challenges.
Stocking your kitchen with some healthy staples as well as the basic ingredients that you use over and over again will make it easier on you when it comes to planning and prepping for healthy meals.