Many of us (eBike riders included) tend to be so busy rushing one from activity to the next that by the time dinnertime arrives, we have no groceries and no idea what to cook for dinner. A little bit of planning ahead on the weekends, or whenever you have time, can go a long way in improving your nutrition. Nutrition is fuel, and you need it to have better rides whether you're a serious athlete or casual rider.
Here are some tips and ideas to ensure you have a plan to make a delicious, quick, and nutritious dinner. After all, less time doing shopping and meal prep means more time to ride!
Plan ahead when grocery shopping
Most people like to use the weekend to relax, go for some bike rides with friends, or sleep. They don’t really want to think about meal planning for the week ahead. Planning ahead can cut down on repeated wasteful trips to the grocery store and ensure you are well prepared for the busy week. If you're driving to the grocery store as opposed to riding, this strategy reduces carbon emissions and fuel costs too, by eliminating or reducing multiple trips.
Choose some recipes you want to make for dinner, create a shopping list, and pick a day to shop. Don’t go to the store without a plan because you will end up wandering and not buying everything you need.
It can be helpful to create a shared grocery list on your phone so multiple members of the family can add to it. Or consider putting a white board or list on your fridge. You can snap a quick picture of it before you head to the store. Also, try to eat a snack before you go shopping as going to the store hungry increases impulse buying and is not a fun experience.
Sources for recipes
Consider purchasing some cookbooks or browse online to get some ideas about what you want to make before you go shopping. Try some new recipes for variety but also include some favorite recipes you have made before to make things easier on yourself.
Choose recipes that use seasonal fruits and vegetables
When selecting recipes keep in mind which fruits and vegetables are in season, as that will lead to cheaper costs.
EBikes are only one part of a green lifestyle, and there are many other ways you can make small changes that are impactful - for example, avoiding use of the oven in the heat of the Summer can help control your air conditioning energy usage. For Summertime meals consider pasta salads, summer salads and sandwiches, grilling, or using an air fryer, rice cooker, or instant pot to avoid use of the oven.
It can be helpful to start prepping dinner for Monday and even Tuesday on the weekend. This doesn’t have to be a big process; it can be as simple as chopping veggies and ensuring any meat you may have frozen is thawing in the refrigerator.
Stock your pantry and your freezer
Ensure your pantry is well stocked with essentials like spices, canned foods you often use such as beans, olive oil and grains like pasta or rice. This will limit extra trips to the store for basic ingredients. Also, if you stock your freezer with frozen veggies and meat or meat alternatives you can whip up a meal without having to go to the store. You could easily make a fried rice dish with veggies and a protein of choice.
Double recipes, and eat leftovers
While most people don’t like to eat leftovers for days on end, try to eat the same thing for two nights in a row. Double or even triple (if you have a big family) a recipe so that you don’t have to cook the next night. If it doesn’t get eaten in two nights, the leftovers can always be used for lunch the next day.
If you don’t want the leftovers freeze them for another night when you don’t have time to cook. Also, when cooking something like chicken, cook extra so you can use it for different meals on multiple nights.
You don’t have to cook something from scratch every night. It is okay to buy some premade foods or meals to save time. It’s also a nice backup and cheaper than take out. For example, Trader Joe’s, Costco, and Aldi all have some nice frozen dinners. When shopping for premade dinners, read the ingredients. If the list is extremely long and there are words you have never heard of, avoid it. The fewer ingredients and less strange words typically mean they are not as processed.
My favorite quick weeknight meal when I don’t have time or don’t feel like cooking is a premade creamy soup, like butternut squash. I look for preparations with less added sugar. I eat this with grilled cheese made on whole wheat or whole grain bread. My favorite is Dave’s Killer Bread whole grains and seeds. If it is hot out and I don’t feel like soup, I will have a salad, typically spinach, strawberries, and feta cheese, with the grilled cheese.
Sample weeknight meal plan
Here's an example of a week's worth of dinners that can share prep time and/or ingredients, saving you time:
A creamy Greek pasta salad recipe that's great for Summertime
Feel free to mix up the veggies in this recipe. This can be eaten as is, or with a meat of choice, like fish. If you are vegetarian or don’t want to eat meat, the Greek yogurt, chickpeas and feta do provide protein! This recipe serves 4-5 adults, but makes great leftovers for lunches so you may want to consider doubling it depending on how many people you are serving. If you are gluten free you can substitute gluten free pasta.
1 pound fusilli pasta, you can also use penne, rigatoni, farfalle or elbow macaroni pasta
2 large tomatoes, diced or 1.5 cups chopped cherry tomatoes
1 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup sliced olives
7 oz (200 grams) feta cheese, cubed or crumbled
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup plain Greek yogurt 2% fat or full fat (add more for extra creaminess)
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1-2 teaspoons dried oregano
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
- Chop all the vegetables about the same size.
- Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, drain well using a colander and rinse with cold water until no longer warm. Set aside to drain.
- Transfer all the ingredients to a large bowl and mix gently with a spatula until everything is combined. Taste and adjust salt.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate for about 1 hour to chill.
Better nutrition and grocery shopping choices can lead to improved health outcomes, as well as saving time and money. You should talk to your doctor before changing your exercise or nutrition program.
Emily is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) who specializes in Sports Nutrition. She strives to help athletes of any level fuel for optimal performance and health. For more about Emily and to learn more about nutrition for a healthy and active lifestyle, visit https://emilywernersportsnutrition.com.