“A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive.” - Walt Disney

Friday, February 1, 2013

2013 Mini Goals: February : Commit to Cooking

The Runner's World article "A Month-by-Month Guide to a Fitter, Faster You" lays out monthly mini goals for the year and February's is to Commit to Cooking.

FEBRUARY: Commit to Cooking

Although good shoes and a healthy dose of motivation help you improve as a runner, there's another set of tools you should use: an oven and a stove. Eating food you prepare at home guarantees you know exactly what you're eating (no chicken breast prepared in butter) and keeps your calorie count down. "According to the USDA, you eat 134 calories more per meal eating out compared with meals at home," says Cassie Dimmick, M.S., R.D., a sports dietitian in Springfield, Missouri, "Plus, when you eat out, you eat fewer whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and more unhealthy fats and sodium." 
Plan ahead. Spend a half-hour on a weekend mapping out your meals for the week—both what you're going to make and what nights you're going to cook. "You don't make good decisions when you're tired and hungry," Dimmick says. 
Become a prep cook. On the weekend, tackle prep work: Cook meats, prep salad dressings, cut vegetables and fruits. "If I'm browning meat, I do two packages," says Dimmick, "and use one and freeze one." 
Rethink your idea of a home-cooked meal. "Certainly a hot, freshly cooked meal is great, but a PB&J, some baby carrots, and a glass of milk is so much better than going out," Dimmick says.

Eating at home isn't the problem in this house - it's pretty much a given.  Restaurants are kind of a rare treat, and lunches are almost always packed, even if it's just a frozen Healthy Choice or Lean Cuisine entree with some fresh sides.  For us, it's the diversity of items eaten at home that's a bit of a problem.  I love to cook, but really only if it's for large groups.  Cooking for only one or two people is not interesting for me, and cooking larger amounts always leads to too many leftovers for us.  As a consequence, my everyday meal repertoire tends to be rather limited, and a bit boring.

So my personal spin on February's Mini Goal is to branch out and cook different and more exciting meals.  The article includes 3 yummy-sounding recipes that will be good go-to's.  The first part of my plan of attack is that this weekend I'm going to pull out my plethora of dust-collecting cook books and pick out some relatively easy/fast and healthy recipes to try out over the next four weeks.  Planning's the easy (and fun) part.

The challenge will be, of course, to follow through with actually shopping for the ingredients and preparing the meals and not falling back into our boring food routine.  I like Runner's World tip to prep more food at once and freeze for easier cooking later on, so I'll definitely be using that method.

I look forward to indulging in my culinary mojo and reporting back my results over this month!

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