Meal times, and reducing snacking, have been an ongoing trial for me in this Covid era of working from home. When I don’t have meals planned out, I snack and eat more as I am figuring out what my meal is going to be. Both portion size and healthy choices improve when I plan out my meals and am looking forward to lunchtime. One great example of planning out a meal, and not taking too long to make it, is my “not really spaghetti -spaghetti”.
Growing up, our spaghetti had tons of meat and red sauce with the standard Italian spices topped with cheese. There are several warm fuzzy family memories around a spaghetti dinner. However, I make it much different now. I don’t use tomatoes, noodles, or cheese, so my family wouldn’t call it spaghetti. For me it is all about finding the time saving, nutritious substitution that still gives that wonderful feel-good flavor.
Instead of noodles, I use cabbage. It is easier to cut some thin slices of cabbage and warm them up than to boil and drain gluten-free noodles where cooking them correctly is finicky at best. I have also used riced cauliflower as another alternative, but that is a different story.
Most of the time, I’m pulling whatever meat I’m using from the freezer. Instead of having to remember to take it out the day before to thaw, and having to babysit it while browning it on the stovetop, I’ve found my slow cooker to be the gem of my kitchen. I can put frozen ground meat in the slow cooker in the morning, take a 5 minute break in my day to add spices, onion, ginger, or anything else, and by lunch the entire house smells wonderful and the meat is ready to go. No fuss, no mess.
That leaves the question of sauce. I could add this to the meat, but I cook more meat than I need so I can use in the next day or two with other flavors and dishes. Instead, I use an avocado. It adds fiber and fats while making all the other ingredient flavors blend well, and eliminates the need for cheese. Without the calcium in the cheese, my body can absorb more of the iron from the meat.
The total time to make this is 3 hours, but the time I am actively doing something is 3, 5-minute intervals. This makes sure that I have break times in my day that are short, get me out of my chair, and think about something non-work related. This type of break makes me more efficient when I am back at my desk.
My encouragement to you is to determine what qualities or specifics you want and need in order to make the positive life changes you want. The days that I successfully eat well-proportioned meals and avoid snacking are the days where my meals are pre-planned, tasty, and either already made or easy to make. Finding the overlap between your goals and what you want will show you the successful path forward.