Sticking to the same foods helps Kara Perez eat nutritiously, fight the urge to snack and overeat, and save money and time. Here she makes the case for how this strategy can help you.
I’ll never be someone who loves to cook. All of my cookware comes from Goodwill, and I find the prospect of creating meals in the kitchen more annoying than exciting. Because of this, I’ve attempted to simplify my meal-planning as much as possible. For a while, that meant a lot of packaged foods—like entire meals of tortilla chips and salsa.
Over the past two months however, I’ve developed a routine that is healthy, easy, and delicious. I consume the same exact thing for breakfast and lunch every day. Yes, I can almost see all the foodies weeping at that statement. But let me explain what I eat, and why it works.
Breakfast is a cup of black coffee and a bowl of Kashi Go Lean cereal with soy milk. For lunch, I eat one piece of whole wheat toast with avocado, hemp seed hearts, and tomato slices, topped with a fried egg. Sometimes on the weekends I switch up my lunch for something else, particularly if I’m eating out of over a friend's house. But for the most part, this is what you'll find me fueling up on twice a day.
I’m a freelance writer who works from home. As a freelancer, if I’m not working, then I’m not making money. My time is precious, and since I dislike cooking, having a go-to meal saves me time that I can dedicate to working. I always know how much time I need to spend cooking, eating, and cleaning up every day.
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This means I can plan my days a little easier. It also means I don’t have to worry about scrounging up a meal each day I work from home. There’s no time wasted or temptation to procrastinate by making a more time-intensive dish.
Eating the same thing during the workday also means that I can control my budget and my nutrition. When I do my grocery shopping, I know that I need eggs, soy milk, cereal, avocados, tomatoes, bread, and hemp seeds. I can account for that in my spending and keep myself on budget. By keeping these foods on hand, I also cut down on the temptation to eat out. I know I can whip up a healthy and delicious meal quickly, and I save the cash I might otherwise spend on eating out.
I'm someone who can easily overeat or spend time snacking; I tend to be a grazer. But my meal routine lets me meet my caloric and nutritional needs while keeping me satiated until dinner. I know that I’m getting protein from the cereal and eggs, vitamin C and K from the tomato, omega-3’s from the hemp seeds, and fiber from the whole wheat bread. No matter what I eat for dinner, I’ve introduced these vitamins and nutrients into my diet through breakfast and lunch.
It's not just what I eat every day that helps me stay healthy—having a set time to sit down for a food break keeps my metabolism steady. I eat breakfast around 9 a.m. each day; lunch happens four hours later. By the time 1 p.m. rolls around, I’m genuinely hungry for lunch, which in turn keeps me full until I eat dinner between 6-8 p.m.
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However, I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist. So I asked someone with a health background if it was okay to eat the same two meals every day, and why this meal-planning has worked so well for me.
Stacey Mattinson, a registered dietitian in Austin, Texas, told me that the basis of my meal plan is fine, but variety never hurts. “Nutritionally speaking, we always recommend variety,” says Mattinson. "Different foods offer different nutrition profiles. Leafy greens offer vitamin K while red or orange foods are high in beta-carotene.”
She clarified further. “Is it wrong or hurtful to eat the same thing? No, I wouldn’t say that it’s detrimental, particularly because you’re eating a different dinner and have some variety on the weekends. If you have a different source of protein for dinner—like beans or tofu—keeping the base of your breakfast and lunch the same is not a problem. You can certainly increase your nutritional quality with variety, but there’s no problem with keeping the base the same.”
She recommended adding a few different types of fruit to my breakfast for variety, or switching the vegetables I put on my toast at lunch for an extra nutritional punch. I'm open to the idea of switching in other vegetables like spinach to my egg and toast, or having a banana with my cereal. But since I don't feel the itch to change things up, I'm sticking to what works, for now.