January is finally here and it’s a new year full of endless opportunities. We know that last year was a bit of a dumpster fire - but let’s not dwell on last year. You survived it, even the holidays - which are often more expensive, stressful, and indulgent than usual. But it’s a new year and it’s time to get back on track. Let’s make sure to start the process early and aim for nothing less than a great year.
New Year, New Goals
Let’s make sure that you have a good idea of what you want from 2021 by making a list of all the goals that you want to accomplish by this time next year. These goals need to be realistic so don’t go too grand - like becoming a billionaire (unless you are really close to becoming a billionaire). These could be health goals, career goals, family goals, or financial goals. Heck, it could be any or all of the above. If something’s important to you, it belongs on that list. Don’t get too caught up on getting every single one right now, you can add to your list later. Have a list? Great...wait, now how do we get from where we are now to achieving your goals?
Well, think about how complicated recipes are laid out. There are multiple, easier steps to be done to achieve making something for dinner. It would be simple to follow a list like that for your goals but where do you get a list like that? Simple. You make it.
Take your list and break down each goal into smaller objectives. List all the steps that need to happen so that you can achieve the larger goal. Make sure that these smaller steps, or objectives, are realistic, attainable, and measurable. For example, if health is your 2021 goal, one smaller objective could be to add extra veggies, protein, water, or physical exercise to your daily routine. Remember that they need to be measurable so add amounts such as number of glasses of water a day or number of minutes of cardio. That way it will be easy to see where you are succeeding and where you need to work a little harder.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you do not meet these objectives every time. When that happens, try to forgive yourself and start over tomorrow. You have a whole year to work towards this goal and change does not come easy. If you need a bit of inspiration, picture how amazing you will feel when you accomplish the overall goal.
Now that you have made a list of goals and objectives to target what you feel is important, it’s time to simplify the rest. Here are some suggestions on ways to simplify your life.
Meal Plan to Avoid Stress
Planning out meals in advance is a great way to remove stress from your life. It sounds simple, right? Well, it will be - with practice. To make this truly work, plan all of your meals BEFORE going for groceries. You’ll know exactly what to buy, avoid buying excess that will end up in the garbage, and avoid the stress of trying to plan it all in your head in the middle of the produce aisle. You could simplify this idea even further by getting groceries delivered to your home. With a delivery service, you can shop for a few minutes online and eat for weeks. There are plenty of services out there, and we might be biased, but we really like having locally sourced meat delivered right to our door with the service offered by truLOCAL. We have worked really hard to make it convenient and easy to get the best frozen meat delivered right to you.
When meal planning, think about what you have scheduled for the time period that you are planning for. Are there nights where you’re working late, entertaining on the weekend, or trying to juggle all of the activities the kids have planned? If you look at your schedule and plan accordingly while you make a meal plan and grocery list, you’ll be better prepared and avoid having to rush to find last minute, often less healthy, meals. Need some suggestions for quick and easy weeknight meals? We have some great recipe suggestions for you.
Avoid the Dinner Rut
Are you stuck in a rut and need some new dinner ideas to break up the routine? There are plenty of ways to get introduced to new dinner ideas. The easiest ways are asking friends what they like to cook or signing up for a food blog. We like Stephanie Kay’s recipes but there are plenty of great food blogs out there, including our own truLOCAL recipe page. To break up the dinner ruts for our customers, truLOCAL ships them a Recipe of the Month card so that they can try something new each month. If they like it, they can add it to their routine. If they don’t, well, they tried something new and that’s never a bad thing.
Once you know what you like to make for dinner, make sure that you have the ingredients on hand to make it. While we recommend stocking up your freezer with truLOCAL meat and fish, we can’t predict what specific items should be in your freezer. Everyone likes different foods and has different demands on their time so you must consider what your style of cooking is. Maybe you like to batch cook on the weekends or just make quick meals every day. Both cooking styles work but only if you are prepared.
Simplify by taking one day to cook a week’s worth of meals and reheat them later as needed. You could cook something like a roast on the weekend and use the leftovers to make quick lunches throughout the week. Does that sound like you? Great! Roasts are surprisingly easy to make and are great for leftovers. We have a great recipe page for how to cook a Sirloin Tip Roast. For best results, defrost the roast in the fridge and then cook it in the oven for a few hours. Use the leftover roast as a protein to add to salads, sandwiches, pasta sauces - whatever you want!
Maybe you want meals that are quick and easy to make. If so, aim for smaller, quicker-to-cook ingredients and meals that do not require a lot of prep time. Taco salad is a great option because it’s made quickly, satisfies that crunch craving, and has tons of veggies. The bonus of taco salad is that even younger family members can “help” by customizing their own dish to include their favourites. Parents no longer have to cook four different meals to satisfy everyone. If you want to make sure that your taco salad is as healthy as possible, add lots of veggies to increase the fibre and use leaner meats such as ground chicken or turkey to reduce unnecessary fat.
Simplify Meal Prep and Clean Up
A great way to simplify your cooking routine is to find some set-it and forget-it recipes. Slow cookers are great because they can be started early in the day and be ready by dinner time with minimal effort. Try a great slow cooker recipe such as Slow Cooker Shredded Beef. This recipe is great because it can be used in so many different ways - in tacos, on a bun, or as it is on a plate with some veggies and potatoes. If you are new to using a crock pot, there are lots of crockpot cooking guides online to help ensure success.
Another way to simplify dinner is to avoid the big cleanup after a meal. Try a one-pan meal such as steak fajitas or Mediterranean chicken - they’re easy to make, easy to clean up afterwards, and they don't skimp on flavour. They simplify your life by making clean up super easy - it’s just one cookie sheet to clean! Once you get used to simplified cooking, add some variety by changing the types of meat or protein you use in your slow cooker or one-pan meal. Did you know that elk and bison are healthier red meat alternatives to beef? Actually, there are a lot of great reasons to choose elk or bison as an alternative to beef.
Feel any better about how to tackle 2021 now? Surely this did not solve all your problems, but we think that this is a great start to building your best year. Take charge and focus on what is important and simplify the things that you do most often. We think that you are pretty great as you are, but we also commend you for finding something that you want to work towards improving. This is the perfect year to do it too because everyone will be adjusting to life once we all get back to normal. So, go out there and accomplish those goals!
January 11th, 2021