The best way to meal plan with ADHD is all about habits and zero about willpower. You have to plan ahead. Otherwise, you’re two hours into your work day, which started off with a breakfast you grabbed at the convenience store on the way to work. Next thing you know it’s almost noon and your attention levels have plummeted because – surprise! – all brains need food, especially ADHD brains.
Or maybe you’re hyperfocused on a project you’re really fascinated by. Next thing you know it’s 3 pm, you’ve worked through lunch and now you’re crashing.
Those, at least, were typical days for me before I learned how to reconcile my ADHD brain with food planning for the day.
It all started with a newborn. My body was making milk to keep her alive, and Totino’s wasn’t going to cut it. However, I was super uncomfortable in the kitchen, and the trip to the grocery store was always a thing.
Here’s how I went from a cookingphobe to a kitchen regular while caring for a newborn.
I Bought An Instant Pot
I know, I know! It feels like everyone and their freaking dog is talking about the Instant Pot. But hear me out. When you’ve got ADHD, you have no idea what’s going to be yummy to you a few days from now. But you can’t keep your fridge empty until hunger strikes or you’ll be totally screwed.
My No. 1 reason for loving the Instant Pot: Freezing all the meats, then being able to take them from frozen to cooked at a moment’s notice. Even the most kitchen-challenged person can pair said meat with steamer bags of veggies and a steamer bag of grains to have a magnificent meal. Best part? It’s healthy, affordable and super easy.
I Got It Curbside or Delivered
But even choosing your meats, your veggies and your grains take some sort of planning. And going to the grocery store can feel like a minefield, especially for the easily distracted. In fact, it’s somebody’s job to make sure this happens and they cash on it. For this reason, I order my groceries online and pick them up curbside. And if I’m sick or having a crazy week, I’ll even get them delivered. Yes, it costs more. But if you factor in the benefits, it may just be worth it to you.
I Got It Pre-Prepped
I stopped spending my life saying “if I could only get my act together enough to chop stuff …” I stopped searching for that perfect kitchen gadget that was going to finally help me pull it together and cook dinner. It makes it so much easier wrapping my brain around cooking dinner when I know that the cleaning and chopping of all the things is already taken care of. I finally just went all-in on buying foods pre-prepped. And if you stick to doing this with freezer section stuff, it doesn’t have to be expensive AND you can cut on food waste.
I Shopped For The Basics 1x A Week
Getting into a predictable shopping routine allows me to really have my finger on the pulse of what I need. It stops me from impulse-buying, and it prevents me from being stuck in the house with nothing to eat. This all keeps me from having to order in or get drive-thru, which saves untolds amounts of money and calories. It’s something I do on the weekend, and it really steps the table (so to speak) for a fully functioning week.
I Kept New Recipes Simple
We had an ongoing joke in our house about my Book of Dreams. Basically it would go like this: I would find a new recipe site and get super excited about it and start bookmarking tons of recipes. I’d start asking my husband what he thought of this one and that one, and I was trying to plan ambitious menus where every day was a new recipe. These of course never happened. Instead they went on to live in the Book of Dreams, otherwise known as stuff I bookmarked and never made. Nowadays, I stick to my basic staples and just try new recipes once or twice a week. And when it stops being fun, I don’t push it.
My Favorite Things At The Moment
Now that I’ve told you my favorite tricks and tips, here are some of what I’m really digging right now.
- Frozen fruit for smoothies – Combined with an Atkins shake for low-sugar protein, I start the day feeling like Wonder Woman. In fact, my local grocery store’s freezer section has them pre-made – my favorite contains mixed berries, banana and kale.
- My favorite Instant Pot recipes – Typically found on Budget Bytes, Instant Loss and Hungry Girl.
- Snacks – String cheese, turkey sticks, nuts, and dark chocolate chips top the list. These are a stand-by each week and keep me from having those horrible food crashes during the work day, especially when I’m really hyperfocused on a project.
- Hint water – Perfect for curbing my Diet Coke addiction. With just the right amount of flavor, it’s not overkill and not too boring all at the same time. As somebody who has tried all the things when it comes to replacing Diet Coke, this is the only one that has really stuck.