I have to say, as someone who is new to the raw food lifestyle, one of the things that is most overwhelming is the “plan ahead” factor. I know I’m not alone. Many friends who have tried raw diets have been asking me how I deal with it.
Like anything, it’s truly a matter of getting comfortable with a new mindset, new methods, and (for me at least) so many new ingredients. Being a checklist & methods person, however, I’ve come up with some tools that have helped me plan ahead for my raw meals with more efficiency. I thought some of these might be helpful to those of you who are trying to figure it out as well.
I try to do the bulk of my shopping on Saturdays, first the Farmer’s Market, to Whole Foods for items that weren’t available at the Farmer’s Market. Here in Portland, these two are within a mile of each other, which is pretty handy…lucky me! There are definitely times when I need to run to the store unexpectedly for an item or two, but this is not a phenomenon exclusive to raw foodies, so it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
As soon as I return from my big shopping trip, I wash/store all of my produce as required, and start “The List”. I’d say my Saturday morning routine, in total, takes 2-3 hours of my day, so if I start early, I’ve still got the rest of Saturday to enjoy.
Not just a grocery list…I keep this 1 page list on my fridge at all times. Nothing fancy, just a plain sheet of paper, with my scribbled notes. It is divided into four sections:
- Meals – A list of all “meals” I can create using ingredients I have on hand for the next several days
- Snacks/Desserts/Drinks – Same as above, but for snacks, desserts, drinks, etc.
- Prep Ahead – Items that require several steps to prepare &/or time in the dehydrator, refrigerator
- Need – A running list of things I am low on or out of, and will not want to forget on my next shopping trip
As I work through my week, things get crossed off/added, but at least to start off with, I have a clear vision of everything I can make either on the fly, or need to make in advance, as I eat my way through the week.
As I research/learn new recipes throughout the week, I add new ingredients to the “Need” portion of the list, so this section becomes an ongoing shopping list. When Saturday AM arrives, I simply grab this list off the fridge, and head to market.
The Daily Routine
AM: Each morning, I spend 20-30 minutes prepping one item from the “prep ahead” list. Once finished, I cross it off the list…who doesn’t LOVE crossing things off a to-do list?!
This is also the time I check the recipe for whatever dinner will be that night & scan it for anything that needs to be soaked ahead.
Last, I spend another 10-15 minutes prepping my green smoothie for the day (usually devoured as soon as I sit down at my desk), a couple of salads, & some snacks so I can grab/eat them quickly throughout the day. If I’m lucky, there’s usually leftovers from last night’s dinner to enjoy at some point too!
Note RE dehydrating time: While I happen to be lucky enough to work from home, and turn off the dehydrator whenever necessary, I realize some folks actually have to leave the house for 8-10 hours, and don’t have this luxury. If you happen to have a dehydrator with a timer, you’re in luck. If not, a workaround would be to purchase a plugin timer, plug your dehydrator into it, and set it to the appropriate time needed.
PM: If I’ve taken time to prep ahead in the mornings (1 item a day), dinner time is typically a snap. It’s usually a simple matter of making a huge yummy salad, assembling any last minute elements from my dinner recipe, and I’m quickly sitting down to a delicious raw meal.
The Catch: Things Change, Including Your Appetite
I have to admit, there are definitely days when I either can’t stick to my routine, or quite simply, what I’ve prepped for dinner is not what I’m in the mood for when the evening arrives. As far as I’m concerned, no worries. I still eat out at local restaurants once or twice a week. Best to find establishments that offer organic raw, or at least, vegan foods, of course. As long as you are making smart choices when you eat out, there’s nothing wrong with letting someone else do it for you
Bottom line, nobody is perfect. Don’t beat yourself up for not living the raw lifestyle to perfection. As long as most of what you put in your body is good for you, sneaking in something off-plan every now and again is really ok.
It Can Be Second Nature…Really
I know, in the grand scheme of what is already a busy day, it seems a bit overwhelming to fit in a new method of planning. I promise you, though, that it replaces a lot of time normally spent prepping (& cooking) conventional foods. Once your mindset & schedule has shifted properly, it can all be second nature, like waking up, showering, brushing teeth, etc.
What are your methods? Any Other Ideas that Might Help Others?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below…I’m certainly no expert, these are coping mechanisms I use now, and I’m sure they will evolve!