Lesson 12

Lesson 12: BHFM and The Stoic Advisor

Weekly Habits for Success - Daily Task to The Habits for Success

“Since of all creatures on earth, the human being is the most closely related to the gods, he must be nourished like the gods. The vapors coming from earth and water are enough for them: what we must do… is get food like that—the lightest and most pure food. If we do this, our soul would be both pure and dry, and being such, it would be best and wisest.” —Musonius Rufus, Lectures and Fragments, 18.3

So far this month, we’ve put a lot on your plate. But, if you’ve been following through on each of the items, you should be handling it pretty easily.

Now, let’s do something personal. Let’s organize your week in advance, but not in the way you may think.

Each week, my wife and I come together for “Meal Prep Sunday”. We make a lot of food on Sunday so that we have leftovers to last at least several days that week, preferably the entire week. This can be a great bonding time between you and your spouse, your kids, or your grandkids. Heck, you can even make it a fun time with friends or your accountability partner to plan out and make your meals for the week.

I know this seems so simple, and maybe even odd to you, but trust us, it can be a wonderful experience if you choose to make it so!

The idea behind Meal Prep Sundays is simple: every Sunday, you spend an hour or two making meals for the next week. Doing this successfully requires that you keep in mind a few important points:

  • Make large meals that you can portion out throughout the week. And choose dishes that keep well: rather than sandwiches (the bread tends to get stale or soggy) or salads, go with something like spaghetti and meatballs, fried rice with some kind of protein, or chopped-up vegetables on top of riced cauliflower.
  • Food storage is critical. Before you begin, take note of what items you need to store your food. Get some nice glass containers that will store everything well without leaking.
  • Consider how long the food is going to keep. If you’re storing the food in your refrigerator, it should stay fresh for around 72 hours, so you’ll have to do a smaller meal prep day on Wednesday night. If you make food that you can freeze (think burritos), then you can prepare food a week or two in advance!
  • If you have the resources, consider using some kind of meal preparation or delivery service. Getting meals regularly delivered to your home is a great way to shed the obligation of going to the grocery store or preparing your own food.
  • Don’t limit yourself to any particular meal—because anything works with Meal Prep Sundays. You can make breakfast burritos for the week ahead, your lunches for work or school, or a big casserole that you can reheat for dinners if your nights are going to be busy.

A student once asked Epictetus how he ought to eat. Epictetus responded simply that the right way to eat is the same as the right way to live: “justly and equitably, in moderation, with restraint and self-control.”

A wonderful by-product of all this is your health. We all talk about wanting to eat healthier. Well, now is your chance! And if you do it right, you can make it fun. Turn on some good background music and have a wonderful conversation with your spouse, kids, friends or your accountability partner as you prepare wonderful meals. Think of how much more useful your time will be on a Sunday evening. Rather than sitting in front of a TV like a bump on a log, you’ll be doing something of actual value. Heck, I enjoy playing books on tape or listening to a podcast when I’m cooking.

According to the New York Post, a survey of 2,000 people found that the average American spends 2 hours and 32 minutes a week deciding what type of meal to eat. That’s 132 hours, or five and a half days per year. And that doesn’t include the time getting to and from restaurants, or the time cooking and cleaning, or even the time eating. Just pure wasted time thinking, looking, arguing. It’s OK to eat out, just prepare for it… plan for it… in advance.

And yes, once in a while you’ll get home and just want to eat out. That’s fine. But you’ll be eating in more now because the food is already prepared! And think of how much healthier you’ll be, eating those personally prepared homemade meals.

But what if you don’t want to do this? That’s OK - do it anyway, but in moderation. Start by preparing one healthy, tasty meal on Sunday night, plan which day you’re going to eat it, and then stick with that plan. Eventually, you’ll add more days… or not. Regardless, you’ll have at least one healthy meal per week!

As Pink Floyd so aptly put it in their wonderful song, “Time”:

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day,
Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town,
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.

Let’s not fritter away the hours of our days. Let’s not waste the only non-renewable resource we have… OUR TIME.

Ultimately, down the road, in another lesson, we’ll discuss the proper way to look at food, the way the stoics looked at food: as fuel for life and nothing more (and with the occasional indulgence… in moderation and infrequently, of course).

But we’ll cross that bridge another day.

NEW HABIT: Start doing MEAL PREP SUNDAYS and make them fun!

NEW TASK: Talk to your spouse, kids, family, friends, or accountability partner and see if you can find someone that will cook and prepare meals with you. If not, no problem, you’ll do it yourself.