Keeping a healthy and balanced diet is not so easy at the beginning (or cheap), but with time you can get into a rhythm, organise everything and it can work out well. It’s important to want to do it. It’s worse if you’re a student, especially if you don’t have a regular income. I know from experience, that preparing 5-7 balanced meals a day will not be easy from the financial point of view. Instead of a strict diet, I would suggest changing the current menu using small steps. But let’s start from the beginning.
Let’s say that you’re still a middle school student. You live with your parents, you don’t have a stable income, you have a small amount of pocket money, you eat sandwiches with the rest of the family, and for dinner you eat whatever your mom or grandma cooks. It will be difficult to turn around your eating habits in that environment, but it’s worth trying to change some menu items and get rid of the bad eating habits. Suggest it to your parents. Show them our blog, make a suggestion to make some changes. Mom and dad definitely wanted to lose a few kilograms at some point, but lacked the motivation. When all three of you decide that you want to do it, it will become easier. You will motivate each other. It’s easier to change your menu when everyone in the household wants to, not just you, dear reader. If after school or work you don’t have time to cook, move that task to the evening on the previous day. If you’re eating fresh rolls with cheese every day for breakfast, then eat it again for lunch, or again later, it’s enough to just swap white bread for wholemeal. Before leaving the house, instead of just having a cup of coffee you could have muesli or oatmeal with milk or yoghurt. Meats of dubious quality should be exchanged for sliced grilled chicken breast on sandwiches. Eggs and cottage cheese are also a great source of protein. Add some vegetables to it and you have a school ready breakfast. Slowly you can change your menu, you just need a little willingness and strong will.
A well balanced diet for a healthy adult man costs a few hundred to one thousand dollars per month (up to £1200/$1250 per month). Obviously it’s less for a woman, and it also depends on the goal you set yourself, if you want to build muscles or lose some weight, the cost will be different. Personally, I started using a 100% balanced diet when I started to earn money, before I couldn’t imagine it and I didn’t attempt it as it was impossible.
A diet is a lot easier if you earn money and work stable hours. Firstly, you have money to “replenish your fridge”, secondly you have time to prepare all your meals. When it comes to the “logic” not to go to the store every day, I suggest doing bigger shopping once or twice a month. With time, you will have a lot better market knowledge and you will know what you should buy on the internet (for example in health food stores), and what you can buy in a supermarket or discount stores. What to buy on the market (mainly vegetables) and what to buy in meat or poultry store – meat, of course – I personally buy a few kilograms once a week, ration it, freeze it and take it out of the freezer when needed. If you can, try sometimes using organic products. You will feel special difference trying organic vegetables and fruits. Tomato from a market and tomato from a farmer leading certified crops is heaven and earth. I guarantee you.
When it comes to making meals without losing too much time to prepare each of them separately, which consists of preparing all the meals in the evening the day before. At the end of the day, when I’m after work and after training, I go into the kitchen for around 30-40 minutes and make 6 out of 7 meals for the next day. If you go with the logic that I wrote about above and organise your kitchen action well, you can complete this task in this short time, or even quicker. For example, preparing containers for the next day: a portion of meat taken out of the freezer before work defrosted without a problem. In one pot, you cook the water for rice, in second, for broccoli. In this time you can spice up the meat and grill it. You put e.g. muesli, oatmeal and raisins in a bowl and add milk, in the morning add a portion of protein supplement and your breakfast is ready. When the veggies and rice are cooked and meat is grilled, put everything in food containers and let it cool. Before going to bed, put all of it in the fridge and you have all your meals prepared for the next day. You don’t have to go into the kitchen the next day, you eat a nutritious meal at work when your colleagues eat chocolate bars and drink sprite, and when you go back home you have a meal ready to be re-heated and you save time, at the same time caring for your health and sticking to your diet.
I won’t mention specific meals, as I already said that every person has different dietary needs. Some people want to lose weight, others want to gain weight. Ideas for interesting meals can be found on our blog, which you are welcome to read. Below you will find a few more words about what tools you will need in your daily kitchen struggles.
To comfortably prepare and hold healthy meals, you will definitely need:
- A kitchen scale – to ration the meat and measure essential ingredients,
- Food containers for solid food and shaker or water bottle for smoothies,
- Mixer or hand blender – to prepare cocktails, spreads and many others,
- A pan for omelettes and pancakes,
- And of course, basic kitchen essentials such as pots, cutting boards, sharp knives, etc.
Remember. “You are what you eat”. Healthy eating will do you only good. You will feel better, you will look better, you will have more energy to live, more strength while working out and most likely you will have more time for your favourite activities if you organise yourself well. A healthy diet is also increased immunity, higher libido, and many other positive effects. Take all the “pros” and “cons” (if you find any) and start today, not tomorrow.