For many people, this time of year is a time for allowable excess. It can be fun to relax your healthy eating standards for a few days – but inevitably, come the first of the year, the gyms fill up and everyone starts dieting in effort to undo the holiday pounds.

Almost every health professional will tell you that “dieting” is a bad idea. Drastic calorie reduction combined with deprivation leads to yo-yo dieting, which leads to even more weight gain. The better approach is to permanently change your eating habits slowly over time and be patient.

Have you heard the saying “You either plan to fail or plan to succeed?” That old adage is true for cleaning up your diet too. The number one thing you can do to ensure your long-term weight loss success is to get organized and plan to succeed. If, for the next few days, you simply observe your food patterns you’ll quickly realize that in order to eat healthy you have to be proactive – even defensive – about what you put into your body.

Due to family and work pressures, most people are already pressed for time as soon as they wake up. Intentions for a healthy breakfast fall by the wayside, junk food lurks in office break rooms, restaurants don’t care how many calories they feed you as long as their food tastes good, and dinner can get lost among homework, after school activities and simple exhaustion. Sound familiar? For most people, the biggest obstacle to weight lose isn’t lack of information – it’s lack of time.

A home freeze dryer can be your biggest weapon in the fight to defend your health. Just choose one or two cookbooks that feature simple, healthy recipes and carve out one chunk of time every month (or every quarter!) to cook all or most of your meals for the month (or quarter) ahead.

With a freeze dryer you eliminate the never-ending weekly chore of coming up with a menu, shopping and cooking – and you can pre-package your favorite foods in the correct portion sizes. Devote one morning or afternoon every month (or every three months – freeze dried food can last up to 25 years) to preparing all of your meals for the coming weeks, and you’ll be prepared to succeed no matter what twists and turns life takes in the coming weeks. When you own a freeze dryer, you can save hours of prep time by doubling recipes, preparing large batches at once and freeze drying them in individual portions.

A family size black-bean chili recipe or vegetable lasagne becomes a month of Monday lunches. An economy size can of garbanzo beans and a sprinkle of spices becomes a few weeks of 3 p.m. grab-and-go snacks. You’ll spend far less time shopping, prepping and cleaning than you would if you approached food preparation on a daily or weekly basis.

By ensuring you’re prepared with healthy food that you love and look forward to, you’ll have far more success in your quest for better health than you would if you left every meal to chance.