It’s one of the most important routines you can manage. Getting it right means you’re impacting every area of your life in some way. You’ll feel better, you’ll think more clearly, you might even be better looking. OK, we can’t guarantee that last one, but you’ll feel better looking!
What is this magic routine? It’s meal planning. Figuring out how to best strategize the food you bring into your home and creating smart habits around eating it is both challenging, and deceptively simple at once. But it turns out that if you’re working to build good living systems for your ADHD, you likely already have the skills you need to make meal-planning successful for yourself and your family!
Links & Notes
- Paprika Recipe App for iOS, macOS, Android, Windows
- InstantPot on Amazon
- Nom Nom Paleo
- Blue Apron
Brought to you by The ADHD Podcast Community on Patreon
Pete: Hello everybody, and welcome to Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast on trustory.fm. I’m Pete Wright. And that right there is Nikki Kinzer.
Nikki: Hello everyone. Hello Pete Wright.
Pete: Hello Nikki Kinzer. I’m hungry.
Nikki: Are you?
Pete: I get hungry when we talk about meal planning. That’s what we’re doing today.
Nikki: That’s the show.
Pete: Yeah. This was inspired by a listener and we’ve talked about food before, but now we’re talking, I don’t know, we’re talking about it more seriously.
Nikki: It’s been a long time.
Pete: Yeah, it’s been a long time. But on the… You know, it’s a great bridge episode, you know, conversation after talking about our experience with…you know, for back to school and building the right routines and doing the right stuff there. This is a good one because it’s super important for students and really challenging to do, but it really applies to everybody. Figuring out a good meal planning routine is enormously important.
Nikki: We all have to eat. Yes.
Pete: That’s what we’re doing today. Before we do that, head over to takecontroladhd.com. You can get to know us a little bit better. You can listen to the show right there on the website or subscribe to the mailing list and we will send you an email each time a new episode is released each week. You can connect with us on Twitter or Facebook @takecontroladhd and send us your thoughts. We would love to hear from you.
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All right, Nikki Kinzer. All right, so we say this is an inspiration from a Patreon listener. What was the request? Do you remember what the actual request was?
Nikki: I think it was just simple. Just can you do a show on meal planning? I don’t remember…
Pete: Talk about food.
Nikki: I think she had some, maybe some dietary needs that she was planning for. But this is definitely something I talk to with my clients a lot actually. This is a pretty a common routine that people wanna develop.
Pete: Oh, I imagine right up there with organizing space and fighting, you know, clutter and lost stuff, I imagine this is right up there, time, space and food.
Nikki: Right, right. Exactly. So I thought we would start with just giving some information about why meal planning can be difficult and why it’s difficult for ADHD. And I have to be very honest with everybody. This is very difficult for me personally. So when she was asking us to do a show, I’m thinking, oh man… What is that? Not FOMO. It’s the impostor syndrome came really loud because I was like, oh man, this is really difficult for me too. But it is, it’s one of those routines that are lifesavers. They can really make your week so much easier if you can do it. However, it is overwhelming and it is something that if you don’t have it broken down, it can feel really so overwhelming that you’re just gonna wing it, right? Like, I’m just gonna wing this because I don’t wanna do it. It can be boring. It’s not something that people really like to do. I don’t really love to cook. I don’t hate it, but it’s not something I have a lot of time for. So to me it feels like a chore. And I think that for people that don’t love to cook, like it’s not like this hobby, it probably does feel more like a chore, you know.
Pete: Yeah. Well, and I, you know, I go through phases where I fantasize about Soylent. Do you know about Soylent?
Pete: It’s this Silicon Valley… Now I guess it’s not really a startup anymore. It’s like a meal substitute, kind of a smoothie powder. But this guy hated the idea of meal planning and shopping so much that he invented this complete nutrient package that you just drink a couple of times a day. And it gives you everything you need for your body and it just has kind of a generic flavor to it, but supposedly you could subsist on just this alone and nothing else. It has all of the protein, vitamins, minerals, everything you could possibly need. And that sometimes I have fantasies of that. Like couldn’t somebody just inject me with a thing that always made me feel satisfied and full so I wouldn’t have to think about all this stuff because I think there’s just… You know, that’s the fantasy. Now I understand what happens with…when you go that route, but there is a fantasy in there that’s like, oh, what pain. It’s such a pain.
Nikki: Which is really interesting because if you sit down and break it, if you actually break it down and that’s what we’re gonna do today, it really isn’t that bad. It’s just that it feels bad. It feels so much worse than it is. And I think that we tend to overcomplicate it and that’s what I know I was doing for sure because I was overcomplicating everything and…
Pete: Or I would say oversimplifying, right? And if you oversimplify, then you end up eating cereal at every meal, right?
Nikki: Right. And I have this complaint in my house, you tend to eat the same things over again, like, and not, you know…I get that complaint a lot and I’m like, well, if you wanna cook then you cook your dinner. But yeah, it can be definitely cumbersome.
So last week, we talked about routines. And as you said Pete, this is an area that definitely deserves a routine and some structure around it. So what I want us to do is review some of the questions that we talked about last week when you’re developing a routine, but I’m going to actually put it in the context of putting together a meal planning routine. So the first question I think people need to ask themselves, and it can be a very simple one or simple answers, just what is the purpose of having a meal plan, right? We need to know what the purpose is of our routines. So what is it for you? How is it gonna benefit you? And is it really worth the time for you to do this? So you’ve got to make sure that the why is in place.
And then you want to brainstorm your tasks, right? That kind of that next step. So what is it that you need to do to put together a meal plan? And we’re gonna talk about that specifically here in just a moment. Do you need a checklist while you’re meal planning? I don’t know. I don’t have a checklist because I kind of know what I need to do, but some people may want that, this is step one, step two, step three. When do you wanna do your meal planning? You’ve gotta choose a day and a time frame that works for you most of the time. So I do mine on Sundays. And that generally works out pretty well. But everybody’s work schedule is different. And so that’s something you have to think about is when is a day that is consistent enough for you to be able to do that?
And how are you going to be reminded, right? Because this isn’t something that’s just gonna come naturally. It’s not gonna be something you just remember to do. So you need to have some kind of a notification, have it in your calendar or something that’s gonna kind of nudge you to say, okay, it’s Sunday. This is the stuff you do on Sundays. And I do have a Sunday checklist that includes meal planning. And then is there a plan B, right? Do you need to set something else up if you can’t do it on a Sunday? What do you think?
Pete: Having a good backup, right. So here’s the last thing, you know, that we did. I think that’s really smart and you know, I’m like you, we do our planning on Sunday. And I actually took a picture. Can I share our routine?
Nikki: Yeah. Will this be in like show notes or how are they [crosstalk 00:09:15] podcast?
Pete: Yeah. You know, if you look at the podcast… I’ll put a link to these pictures in the show notes. So if you’re watching on the live stream, you’re gonna actually see it as I walk through it. But if you are watching…or if you’re just listening to it, you will see it…or you will not be able to see it. So look in the show notes and there’ll be a link to Pete’s pizza roundup. So here you can see that you’re…you know, my photos, right? And this is our kitchen and it’s not the cleanest, but you can see on the right there, hanging up on the board or on the wall, there is our whiteboard and this is our routine whiteboard. And behind, directly behind where I am here is our kitchen table. So you can see, it’s an easy… Like I’m sitting at one end of the kitchen table to take this picture.
And so up close, as we look at it, you can see that we have… It’s Monday and it’s a weird last week of summer, so it’s not that busy. But you can see at the top, the colors, it says Sophie, Nick, dad and mom. And each of us is in a different color. And so as you go down the board here, you can see that anything that’s written, for example, doctor’s appointment at noon is written in black. So that’s a Nick appointment. But who’s taking him? That’s mom. So it has a blue box around it. Does that make sense?
Pete: Okay. So now you go down to the bottom row of this schedule and you see our meal box, right? And so we plan generally what meal we’re having, what night of the week on a Sunday night. This week is screwy because mom and Sophia are going to Wisconsin for the rest of the week. So Nick and I are hiding the evidence by not planning meals for the rest of the week in public, right.
Nikki: For sure. [crosstalk 00:10:47]
Pete: Right. We’re gonna have some fun. But you can see we’re having deli sandwiches tonight and we’re having salmon burgers tomorrow night. And usually under there as we get to the day, we’ll write the sides. And then you can see that it’s written in red, which means I’m the responsible party for pulling together these two dinners because everyone else is busy or out.
And so that’s how we ended up doing our thing. And then when we have items that need to go on the pickup list, we put the groceries down on the little grocery section down here. So that’s our little whiteboard process and that works like gangbusters for us because we can write the color of who’s responsible for the meal. We all discuss the meals for every night of the week during, you know, our dinner on Sunday night where we’re all sitting down at the table together. And, you know, we end up having a nice, complete system. What do you think?
Nikki: Awesome. I like it. I like it. We found this resource, and if you haven’t visited nomnompaleo.com, you really should. They have these… Michelle Tam and Henry Fong are amazing. They’re wonderful, like, food science people. But they’re in terms of, like… That’s the thing I struggle with more than anything is figuring out how to eat, you know, reduced gluten kind of fashion, right, because I’m a celiac family. It’s a long story and you’ve all heard it before. So the way this book is organized is something that we have adopted for our family meal planning. That is, it will tell you, it’ll give you all of the recipes and it’ll tell you here’s what you need to prepare on Sunday. If you were making sauces or things like…that take a little bit longer, you make them on Sunday and then you’ll use them in the meals that you are preparing…planning out for the week and all of those recipes. So the way this book is written, it actually has a week at a time recipes. So it just says go buy all this stuff and then you’ll have everything you need for every recipe we make this week. And they’re all original. It has like five… I think it has a full month of weeks that you can just rotate through different recipes every day for a month so you’re not repeating stuff over and over again.
And that’s something that we’ve kind of adopted even for our recipes outside of the book where, you know, we just say, oh, I want to eat these salmon burgers, and when we know salmon burgers, we know what goes with it because we’ve made it before. We know, you know, how we make them, that kind of a thing. That has been enormously helpful. And we have a shared notebook in our shared digital organizer that helps us keep on top of, you know, the recipes when we need to catch up with them. So I don’t know if that makes sense, but it really works for us having that weekend work, weekly you know, calendar of meals and all of the resources that we need to build them up front. I could not do it alone. I honestly… It would be a real stretch for me to keep up with this on my own. It takes a village.
Nikki: So you guys do it together?
Nikki: Yeah. So the routine that I go through is basically on Sundays what I do is I look at the calendar and I always look at what we’re doing that week because that actually helps me figure out how many meals I actually have to plan for. So like last week I knew we were gonna be out two times. We were gonna be out on Tuesday and Friday. So then I really only had to do Sunday, Monday, Wednesday on Thursday, right? So I kind of had to figure out, okay, I only have to do these meals, which actually makes me feel better because it’s less than seven. Then I think, okay, I can do this. I can put together four meals. This is okay. And so I always look at the calendar. I always look at the number of meals I need to plan for. And then I use an app called Paprika app. I have used this app for a long time.
Pete: Yeah. Amazing. Tell me about it. Because I have heard so much about this app and I think I’ve downloaded it and I get it, but it never stuck. What made it stick for you?
Nikki: Well, it’s one of those things, like anything, you have to kind of practice it and then go back and play with it and tweak it. So for me I like it because I’m able to categorize it really easily. I’m able to put the… Like if I have a website…I’m sorry, if there’s a recipe that I’m getting off of a website, I can click the link and put it into Paprika and then it actually does the whole recipe for me so I don’t actually have to write it out or type it in, right? It just does all of this for you. And so that’s awesome. I mean that’s a real plus. And then if you’re gonna have it for that week, it goes into your grocery list and then you can go in and either delete what you already have and don’t need. And then you can use this grocery list as when you go to the grocery store and what it is that you need. So it’s very…
Pete: Can you share this? Does it… Can you sync it with, like… Say, your husband wanted to share it with you. So he’s up to speed on the recipe. Does that work?
Nikki: My husband doesn’t care about this.
Pete: I know but what if your husband did? What if there is a fantasy land out there where your husband cares about this stuff?
Nikki: I’m sure there is a way to probably share it. I just have never looked at it because he doesn’t share this with me.
Pete: Okay, because he doesn’t care.
Nikki: This is my thing. But this is the thing that I’ve learned because what I would do before is I would actually put recipes in here that I hadn’t tried yet. And I figured, what happened is that actually cluttered it up. So what I do now is I make sure that the only recipes that are in there are things that I know that my family likes, that we do and I’ve made because then it becomes my master meal list. So I can actually go into Paprika, look at dinner and look at, okay, what do I have for Mexican choices? What do I have for Italian pasta? Do I want beef? Do I want pork? Do I want vegetarian? Do I want keto-friendly, you know, all of those things are gonna be…because I have them all categorized. That makes sense to me.
And so, it makes it simple because I have the master meals in there. Once I decide what I want, then I take an inventory of what I already have in the pantry and in the freezer because I over buy food. I just, I buy too much food. So I always need to make sure that I go in and look at what we already have. And then I make a grocery list. So you have a wonderful like whiteboard. Mine is so simple. I basically open up Paprika. I have a little notebook thing, whatever this is, I write down the meals, I look at what I need. I either will use the Paprika app or I’ll just put it on a list of paper. And I go grocery shopping. And I buy groceries just for the next couple of days because one of the things I hate doing is I hate going to the grocery store. I hate spending time at the grocery store. So I have found that if I only have to go and get a little bit of stuff and not for the whole week, then it doesn’t seem so bad because then I know I’m only spending 15 or 20 minutes at the grocery store rather than like an hour. So I buy stuff for the next couple of days and then like on a Wednesday, I may go back and get what I need for the rest of the week. And we usually have one night that is out. So it’s usually always six or less evenings.
Pete: It looks like a really interesting app. And yeah, they do have the thing available for Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, and Windows. So if you’re interested in checking out Paprika, it’s really cool. And they’ve…the screenshots that they’re sharing, I don’t know, I mean, it’s pretty sexy. Well I’m looking at this calendar. I love this calendar that they show, so you can put the recipes on a date so you know when you’re gonna eat it and can jump to it. I just, I think it would be…what I would wanna do…in order to make it work for us, it has to be visible to the entire family, right? Anything that’s just one of us is planning is just, it’s a recipe for like confusion and I don’t want that, and conflict. And you know, that’s why the Sunday family planning thing and simplifying it to the whiteboard is…it just makes things…
Nikki: You are lucky that your family wants to be involved. Mine, they don’t care. And they, you know, I do think about what they like, so I will usually put in like a meal, you know, that I know that everyone’s gonna like. But other than that, I’m just like, okay, this is what we’re having and no one cares.
Pete: Well and that’s one of the things that has been a real blessing for us is that we started having these conversations on Sunday nights, whether the kids were paying attention or not. And eventually what they learned is if they’re not paying attention, then we’re going to make food that they don’t like, and that we love, and somebody’s going to bed hungry if they don’t like it and didn’t participate in the conversation. And that is conditioned behavior. Like we’re able to kind of roll with that.
Nikki: Yeah, you guys have been doing that for a long time.
Pete: We’ve been doing it for a long time and the kids are getting older.
Nikki: I did that for a while, but then it sort of was one of those things that just, I ended up just taking it over.
Pete: Yeah. I totally understand.
Nikki: So a couple of things that I want us to just point out is that I think that any kind of system you put together, we definitely wanna make it as simple as possible and not time consuming because that’s what we’re afraid of. We’re afraid that this is gonna take forever. And so I think that one of the things that we have to do, especially if you’re just starting out, like getting together a master list of meals, this is an ongoing process. You do not need to like sit down and think of every single meal you’ve ever liked and put it down on paper right now. You can plan your meal for this week and start building that list. And then next week, okay, what are we having? And so then you’re starting to gradually build it without feeling overwhelmed. How do you guys remember what to cook? Like I have to look at the master list for me to even remember what we like. How do you do that?
Pete: Well, we start with what was on the whiteboard last week, right? Because on Sunday, we still have the last week up. Was there anything that we wanna repeat? So that starts the list. And then we’ll go to usually to the list of recipes that we like from, for example, right now, it’s the book. We have a long running recipe. We call it the recipe notebook in Evernote and that’s shared between all of us so we can go in and look at the recipes that are… Usually it’s the recipes that are right at the top because it’s sorted by last edited. So we can see, you know, what were the last few recipes that we made. And we can just say, oh yeah, just run down the list on Evernote and say, here are the recipes we like.
Nikki: So your master list is in Evernote?
Pete: It absolutely…yeah. That’s what I was getting to. And it makes it super easy for us to go back and do that. And so our master list includes pictures of recipes that we’ve taken, you know, scans of recipes from grandma’s cookbook. Hey, we can’t cook anything from grandma’s cookbook anymore. It’s all just lard. Like you’re going, well, how did grandma survive?
Nikki: I don’t know. Yes, I know.
Pete: Anyway. So we have all those recipes you know, in the recipe book. So it’s easy to find if there’s something where like if we want something with, you know, beef or pork or chicken, we can just search for chicken in the recipe book and it’ll show up in our digital, but then it’s our cookbook, so. So that’s kind of how we handle that.
Nikki: Well, and I do, I know that there’s probably a lot of Pinterest fans out there, and I do have a Pinterest board that has a lot of saved recipes that I look at from Pinterest. My problem, I don’t know if anybody else feels this way, but man, a lot of the Pinterest recipes don’t turn out very well, which is really discouraging.
Pete: Right, questionable.
Nikki: But I do use that as another way to sort of just organize things that I may want to try. So it’s just like, it’s a virtual cookbook of sorts. And so, like last night I did a salmon that was a recipe from Pinterest and I figured, well, if I like it, then I’ll put it into Paprika. You know, the jury’s still out. So I don’t know. It was okay, but it’s like you don’t love it. So it’s like, do you really wanna make something that’s just okay? So anyway, but that’s what I’ll do with that sometimes. But I think that, you know, the beauty of it is you just don’t have to rely on your memory. So it doesn’t have to be so hard when you’re making that weekly plan.
Pete: I think this is where the fireworks in my brain get set off because I really resent meal planning. I don’t like it at all. It’s a process that I just wanna get through as fast as possible and tweak. So the idea of doing it more than once is super overwhelming to me. Like I would rather, like, just sit and be beaten through the process one time for each week than…like, picking just the next couple of nights of meals and then doing it again later. But that is one of your mileage may vary things. Like I recognize there are people who just can only do one or two meals at a time.
Nikki: Absolutely. And that’s what you have to figure out.
Pete: You have to figure that out.
Nikki: Like for me, I know that if I don’t do the planning on Sunday, then we will end up eating out the…especially the last part of the week. I just know that’s gonna happen.
Pete: Yeah, you just run out of steam.
Nikki: If I only do like a couple of meals, even if we don’t have the groceries, but I only planned for a couple of meals, then it’s gonna definitely be at the end of the week, it’s gonna fall apart. So for me it’s important that I at least figure out what the meals are. Maybe I don’t get all of the groceries at once, but I at least know what the meals are.
Pete: Well that’s the caveat. Like shopping more than once is fine as long as I know what I’m buying because if I end up… I’m like you. If I end up listless at the grocery store, A, I’ll eat all the samples and come home not feeling very good. I’ll buy things I’ll regret. Yeah, I have to have a very laser-focused list.
Nikki: But I do have to say I’ve…in the past, working with other clients about this, I did have a client who seven days was completely overwhelming and when we broke it down to just three days at a time, she could do that. So it really is a matter of just seeing what works best for you and what’s your habit, like what happens if you don’t have it? You know, and I just, I know what happens.
Pete: Well, and I would say like I just spent some time with my folks, as you may recall, and one of the things that always gets me and throws me for a complete loop is one of the daily sort of chores for my family is going to the store daily for that day’s meals. And it feels like, oh my God, how do you live like this? Like how do you do this? Buying everything each day, like I just don’t have the time or the attention or the interest to do that.
Nikki: To do that. Yeah, I know. So this is something I have not done yet, but I’d be interested to hear if you’ve done it or if any of our listeners have. But if you really hate going to the grocery store, there are delivery services out there that you can go online, make your list and they’ll either deliver it to you or you can go to the store and pick it up.
Pete: We did for a while. The first grocery service to do this, I can’t remember what the name of it was now, it escapes me, but they went out of business. They were not able to compete. And so we did use them occasionally. It was more expensive than just going to the store, the delivery fee. We ended up feeling…you know, our grocery store is close enough that the delivery fee was not enough for our…to compensate our time. And my wife actually really loves going to the grocery store. Like it’s a thing that she really enjoys. So we’re yin and yang for each other around the groceries. So we haven’t done it in a while, but there is something really, really exciting about having somebody bring all your groceries to you. And it’s perfect. They are beautiful. And none of the eggs are cracked. Like everything is great. So I’ve had good luck.
Nikki: Yeah. I mean I think it’s definitely worth trying. I’ve had some friends who’ve done it and they’ve really enjoyed it. They went to one where they had to pick it up. It wasn’t delivered to their front door, but they went and grabbed…
Pete: Yeah, the curb side thing, you pull up and like [crosstalk 00:27:32]
Nikki: Curb side thing, yeah. And there were a couple of times where she would send me pictures of things that they messed up on that was just kind of funny. Like, you know, she wanted one can of something and she ended up getting like a big, huge like business kind of can, you know that’s like gonna feed a hundred people.
Pete: Well, and you know we have used…I’ve used a like Grubhub and things like that, like services where they bring you like meals from restaurants and they screw up all the time. And then I read this study about how their…the drivers, like 80% of the drivers have admitted to eating your food on their way to your house. Like they’ll eat some fries and things like that. Like I just… So I know like at the grocery store that I feel like the last time we used it they didn’t have something for a recipe. And so the picker, the grocery picker called us and was like standing at the store like saying, okay, well do you want the this version or the that version? I’m like, I could do that with my wife. Like that’s the conversation I have all the time. Do you want this kind of thing? Like why do I… So anyway, that could be frustrating.
Nikki: It could be. Yeah. But I guess the value I see in it is that, gosh, I would really like to just go online, check, check, check, check and not have to go inside and do it. But the problem with that is, you’re right, there’s a lot of error that can happen. But anyway, that’s something that people could look into in their own hometown and see if that’s something that they’d be interested in. Now, the meal delivery services is another option and that’s what you’re talking about. There’s like the Blue Apron. There’s HelloFresh. There’s a lot of [crosstalk 00:29:09] ones out there.
Pete: Yeah, the boxes, right.
Nikki: I have not tried any of them. The closest thing that I’ve done to this, which actually was really actually pretty neat, they don’t have them in town anymore, but I went to this place and I picked like so many meals and I pre-made everything and like cut everything up and did everything the way that the instructions were. And then I froze it. So I had these ready to eat meals that I prepped. And you could pay more to have them prep it and you can just go and pick it up. That’s…
Pete: So you’re doing it in like an industrial kitchen kind of a thing?
Pete: That’s cool. I’ve never even heard of that.
Nikki: Well, they don’t do it… They don’t have them anymore. So I’m wondering if it just was something that didn’t pan out like they thought because I would…
Pete: Yeah, pan out.
Nikki: Really? Yeah. I would do it when the kids were really busy with sports and everything because then you could go in and have like, you know, six meals and freeze them, not necessarily have them every day that week, but at least have some food in the freezer that I cooked, that I essentially made. What do you think [crosstalk 00:30:21] of these other…
Pete: Right, right, right. Well, that’s essentially what we do with this one. It’s like you make all the stuff that you need for the week on a Sunday and then you freeze it. We also have the routine of like when we’re making salmon burgers, we always make the double recipes so that we get to freeze it and have it again, have the same meal with no prep the following week for example. But the Blue Apron, my experience with Blue Apron is…was very, very positive. And they…you know, the food was always impeccably packaged and very fresh and all of the fish and the chicken, it was all really fresh and good cuts of meat. And, you know, I found that there was a good selection, a good rotation that the only challenge that I had, I think it speaks more to me than the service, their estimates for cook time…
It’s supposed to be so easy, right? Everything’s premeasured. It takes all of that out. But their estimates for cook time, I think were for like expert, like, TV level chefs. And so it always took me way, way too long to make these meals. So I felt like I was making a new meal for the first time and it would always take me way longer than making a meal that I was super comfortable with and had made before. And so I know I would get better at that and we did it for probably six months. And I did get better when you started having recipes that repeated that you liked and you request it again, that kind of a thing. But I just felt like maybe it wasn’t saving me as much time as I thought. It certainly saves the grocery shopping time because they send you the food. But in terms of day of prep when I really need the savings it was harder. So again, I think that might’ve been me, like not being an alpha level chef. I don’t want to talk about me anymore.
Nikki: Well it is definitely something I think to think about if it’s some…you know, if you’re looking at different options around meal planning, it’s out there and a lot of people have good experiences with it.
Pete: Well and I would add to that. Like it reduces choice and sometimes the paralysis of choice is the big sticking point in my head. And just not having to think about what I’m gonna eat tonight is the hurdle I need to get over. This is a great way to do that.
Nikki: Absolutely. So recently I was working with a woman who is single and we were talking about meal planning and she was on a special type of diet that she was following. And one of the things that she was doing is on Sundays she was making lots of different chicken breast, and she would put them in portion like one, you know, one portion size individually, put them in the freezer. She also made like a couple of soups on a Sunday and froze that. So she knew that that’s what she had for lunch that week. So she did a little bit of prep on Sunday to set herself up to make easy meals. So it was easy for her to come home. Put the chicken in the skillet, you know, roast some vegetables and she was good to go. So that’s something else to think about if you’re willing to do that, if you’re willing to do some of the prep on Sunday for the week. Honestly, that’s not something that I do or have ever done but I know it works for people. You know, again, just giving you guys options.
Pete: I would say if you’ve never considered… Like if there’s one device that we added to our kitchen in the last year that has dramatically changed the pace at which we are able to prepare meals for the family, it is the Instant Pot.
Nikki: Yes. I was gonna say we have it too and it does make a big difference.
Pete: We use it every day. From cooking rice to rotisserie chicken to… I mean everything can go in it and there is a recipe for adapting just about any meal that you can think of to Instant Pot. It is a revolutionary kitchen device in our house. Yes, it is incredible. So there is even a recipe for like… I was blown away just to, you know… It was a great tool and then it was my turn to cook and I was supposed to thaw the chicken and I didn’t thaw the chicken. And there’s just… You’re not supposed to do…cook chicken that hasn’t been thawed, unless you have an Instant Pot. I took a frozen chicken and I put it in the Instant Pot. There’s an adaptation for cooking a frozen chicken and it pressure cooks, fast cooks, incredible cooks this thing and comes out with a rotisserie chicken with like potatoes and onions and everything all at once. And everybody loved it. Everybody loved it. Like that saved my bacon and I’m a big fan.
Nikki: Well, and we have it too, but I have to say, I still use my crockpot. In fact, I’m gonna use it today. And to me crockpots are really easy meals because you’re prepping them in the morning, which is where I have more of my energy than I do in the evening. And there’s not a lot of cleanup because everything is in that crockpot. So it’s very easy to just, you know, clean. So Instant Pot, crockpot, all of these…
Pete: Well it is, and you can use the Instant Pot for crockpot cooking. You can cook it as a…use it as a slow cooker or as a pressure cooker. That’s kind of the nice thing. So we were able…we put our crockpot away just because of that, but we cook…we do everything. We make bone broth in it. We make… I mean bone broth, it used to take days and days. You can pressure cook bone broth and, you know, freeze, you know, a ton of beautiful bone broth in just a few hours. It’s really great. So those kinds of… I think we’re in agreement.
Nikki: Yes. A couple other things I would say as far as other ideas to think about, if you have certain meals that you like that are more of like pantry staples… So, for example, if you don’t feel like cooking or you don’t know what you’re gonna cook or something unexpected happens, you know, what are the soups or pasta or sandwiches that you like, or can you have breakfast for dinner? We do this pretty much weekly anyway. We always have a breakfast for dinner. But just having things on, I don’t wanna say in stock, but just having things there ready for you so that you’re not sitting there thinking, oh, I need to have takeout because I have absolutely no food. That’s a place I’ve been many times and it’s not very much fun. The last idea I have about this is, Pete, you had mentioned taking away the choice, right, all of the decisions that have to be made.
So there are a couple of tricks that you could put in play that actually allows you to have more structure, fewer choices on the menu. And that’s just rotating the same meals, you know, either on the same day or every two weeks or whatever. So you’re basically eating, you know, the same stuff on a pretty consistent basis. Some people don’t care. Some people are probably perfectly happy with that. But then what it does is it just makes things simpler, right? It just makes things easy. You know, consistency. When we talk about routines and consistency, we all wanna be consistent. I know that that’s really difficult to do because things happen. Sundays you may… I may not be here. I may be out of town or I just may not feel like doing it. But I also know that when I do do it, it’s better for me. It’s better for my family. And so if I can’t do it on a Sunday, I try to get it done on a Monday or a Tuesday. Whatever day it is, I try to get it done. And just keep doing the best I can because I know the benefits there. And, you know, it’s a struggle. It is, but it’s worth it.
Pete: Well, it’s a struggle. It’s one of the most important routines you can master though. Live healthier, feel better, feel stronger.
Nikki: Save money.
Pete: Yeah. Save money.
Nikki: That’s for sure.
Pete: Yeah, and be better looking, all of those things.
Nikki: All of those things. There you go.
Pete: This has been great. This has been great, Nikki. Hope it helps others out there thinking just in terms of how you think about the food. Thank you everybody for your time and your attention. And let us know how it goes. Make sure to jump into the Discord server and let us know if you’re a patron and we’d love to see you over there. On behalf of Nikki Kinzer, I’m Pete Wright. Thank you for your time and attention. We’ll see you next week right here on Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast.