1. Shop once a week – if the food is not in the house, you can’t eat it. Set aside just an hour each week to stock up on dietary staples or order online. Resist purchasing chips and chocolate.
2. Know your quick and easy meals – if you have tuna or salmon, eggs, cheese, pasta sauce, frozen vegetables, potatoes and tomatoes, you can make five or six different meals in 10 minutes or less.
3. Cook just once or twice a week – if you prepare a couple of big serves of balanced meals such as pasta bake, a pie or a stir-fry with meat and vegetables, you are guaranteed two meals during the week that you can freeze or use as leftovers for your lunch.
4. Start a lunch club – if you’re tired of the same old sandwich or salad you’ve been making since 2010, team up with a work colleague and start a lunch buddy system. This way you can bring two tasty lunches each, each week and perhaps shout yourself to lunch out on the fifth day of the week.
5. Set aside 20 minutes on Sunday night to plan the meals – make a note of each dish you plan to prepare each night so you know exactly what you need to do to prepare it when you walk in the door.
6. Keep snacks with you at all times – each morning, pack a couple of protein-rich snack foods to prevent impulse food purchases during the day.
7. Leverage lunchtimes – if you find it hard to fit food planning into your weekend, use work lunchbreaks to get to the local supermarket and stock up on the foods you need during the day, and even for the evening meal.
8. Have a cook-up – if weekdays are simply too frantic to prepare any meals, cook a couple of extra meals over the weekend so you are certain to eat well for at least the first few nights of the week.
9. Rehearse – imagine how you’ll respond to impromptu offers of office cake or a third glass of wine, but leave room for flexibility to ensure you don’t beat yourself up or binge if you do indulge. For example, resolve to eat out just twice each week, so you can plan your indulgences (it’s like a control burn).
10. Utilise helpers – there are many mums, husbands and even friends who are often only too happy to help at home if you need it. Next time, if and when one of your support team ask if you need help, ask if they will help you with a meal or leftovers if you are finding it too difficult to fit meal preparation into your daily routine – you will be surprised how happy they will be to help.