Lunch feels to me like one of the trickiest meals of the day — it's so easy for good intentions to go completely off the rails. There's the fact that most of us are somewhere outside our homes come lunchtime, so a homemade lunch means not only planning ahead but also actually making the meal ahead (not to mention remembering to bring it with us when we leave). Assuming those things happen, the lure of the food truck and lunch invites from co-workers can be too great to resist if our homemade meal isn't something exciting.
This is all just to keep things in perspective as we start talking about our lunch habits and how we want to change them. We're up against a lot! But don't be overwhelmed or intimidated — we'll just take it one step at a time.
Take a Good Hard Look at Your Lunch Habits
Ok, pull out that list you made yesterday and spend a few minutes just looking it over. What are the meals that stand out to you, for good or for not-so-good? Which homemade lunches were good...but left you hungry by 2pm? Which ones did you really look forward to eating? Are you surprised by anything?
Also, try to look beyond the simple list of meals and think about the habits behind them. What made your favorite lunches successful? Did you plan them ahead? Ditto with the lunches you didn't like so much — did a change of plans mean that you swapped in a tuna fish sandwich when you really wanted something else? Or has it been a while since you brought something new for lunch and find yourself getting bored? The days when you went out for lunches, was that something you planned for intentionally (nothing wrong with a few lunches out!) or was it because plans to bring your own lunch fell through?
Our intent here is not to make you feel ashamed or chagrined at your current habits, but just to actually see them clearly. So often with routines like this, you get into them without necessarily realizing it. A big part of making a real, lasting change is understanding what habits you already have.
Now that's done, let's move on to today's real assignment!
Today's Assignment (Estimated Time: 20 Minutes)
- What Am I Tired of Eating? Pen in hand, cross off any foods that you want to kick to the curb. Your motivation might be health (no more potato chips) or budget (tired of paying for burritos every day) or simple boredom (another salad? Yawn). Nix the whole list if you have to!
- What Do I Love Eating? Now the fun part! Go back over your list and circle the foods that you love and definitely want to keep. These are the foods that you look forward to eating whenever they're in your lunch. Also, it's ok to circle foods that you love, but that maybe you feel a little conflicted about — for instance, say you love pizza and look forward to picking up a slice for lunch, but know you should probably be saving your money right now. Hey, that's a totally legit food love. Keep it on your list, and maybe you look for some homemade pizza recipes when we get to the recipe-hunting stage tomorrow. See what I mean? If there's something you love, but it needs a change, maybe there's a creative way to make it work with your new lunch goals.
- What Would I Like to Eat More Often? Last but not least, start a list of foods that you'd like to add into your lunch routine. More leafy greens? A piece of fruit? Something with protein? The sky's the limit here. Trust your instincts about foods you like and that make you feel good, and make sure they're on your list.
Now that we've figured that out, the next step is to set some goals:
- Set Three Goals: In the back of your head as you've been working through these questions, you've probably had something motivating you. Time to put it into words! Maybe it's the desire to eat healthier lunches or find a few lunches you actually look forward to eating. Maybe your goal is as ambitious as prepping all your lunches for the week on Sunday, or as simple as "don't forget to take lunch from fridge." Think about what you really want for your lunch routine and write it down here.
- Share a Goal: We'd love to hear what's motivating your Cure this week! If you there's a goal you feel like sharing, head over to Facebook or Twitter (#cookingcure) and tell us about it.
Are you running up against a major challenge as you set your goals? Make sure to tell us here in the comments or on social media with the #cookingcure hashtag and if we can we'll give some resources to help in our series of Cure My Cooking Problem posts.
Three Imaginary Cure-Takers
As we thought through this part of the Cooking Cure, there were a few types of goals that we imagined we'd see popping up most frequently. We'll be making a special effort this week to bring those of you who relate to these "imaginary Cure-takers" some tips and ideas to help you along:
- The Bored Luncher: I've got lunch prep down pat and never forget to bring it, but goodness gracious, I'm bored with what I'm bringing. I need new ideas. Gimme.
- The Well-Intentioned Luncher: I have the best of intentions to bring my lunch everyday, but always get derailed for one reason or another. I want to build some new habits for making my lunches ahead and making sure I bring them.
- The Habitual Lunch Buyer: I really just eat out too often and would like to change that. I need help getting motivated to bring my lunch and some easy lunch ideas to help get me into the habit.
The Cooking Cure Live Blog
Follow the progress of The Cooking Cure in a real live kitchen: