Meal planning with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is all about habits, not 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 all brains need food — especially ADHD brains.
Or maybe you’re hyper-focused on a project you’re really fascinated by. Next thing you know, it’s 3 p.m. You’ve worked through lunch and now you’re crashing.
Those were typical days for me before I learned how to reconcile my ADHD brain with food-planning for the day.
It all started with my newborn. My body was making milk to keep her alive and Totino’s pizza rolls weren’t going to cut it. However, I was super uncomfortable in the kitchen and a trip to the grocery store was always difficult. Here are some tips for meal planning with ADHD while caring for a newborn.
1. Buy an instant pot
I know, I know! It feels like everyone is talking about the instant pot. When you’ve got ADHD, you have no idea what’s going to be appetizing 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 number one reason for loving the instant pot is freezing all the meats, then being able to take them from frozen to cooked at a moment’s notice.
2. Have your groceries delivered
Choosing your meats, your veggies and your grains take some sort of planning. Going to the grocery store can feel like a minefield, especially for those who are easily distracted. For this reason, I order my groceries online and pick them up curbside. If I’m sick or having a busy 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.
3. Buy pre-prepped foods
I stopped spending my life saying, “If I could only get my act together enough to chop up some food.” I stopped searching for the perfect kitchen gadget that was going to finally help me pull it together and cook dinner. I finally just bought foods pre-prepped. It makes it so much easier to cook dinner when I know that the cleaning and chopping parts are already taken care of.
4. Make a grocery shopping routine
This stops me from impulse buying and prevents me from being stuck in the house with nothing to eat. It also keeps me from having to order in, which saves money. It’s something I do on the weekend and it really sets the table for a fully functioning week.
5. Stick to new, simple recipes
We had an ongoing joke in our house about my “book of dreams.” I would find a new recipe site, 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. These of course never happened. Instead, they went on to live in the “book of dreams,” otherwise known as recipes I saved but never made. Nowadays, I stick to my basic staples and just try new recipes once or twice a week. When it stops being fun, I don’t push it.