Plan and prep tips for healthier eating
So of all my post categories…this category, nutrition, is my struggle. I really have to work at being consistent with my systems and routines. I seriously LOVE the way my weeks flow when I have a healthy eating plan. However, it just takes a hiccup like leaving town or having a long tournament weekend to get thrown off. But that lovely feeling of control over my nutrition keeps me keeping on.
Prepare to Succeed
Exercise is important for my mental and physical health and I have no problem getting in my workouts but as my trainer often says ‘great abs are made in the kitchen’ meaning that it’s what we feed our bodies that really gets us closer to our physical health goals. One of my main health goals right now is to get to 18-20% body fat and I know that this will not happen with exercise alone. But, whether you are trying to lose body fat or maintain, good nutrition overall just feels better.
I have a specific nutrition plan that I follow, at least 80% of the time. In a nutshell, I eat protein, good fats, some fruit, and lots of vegetables. I limit grains, dairy, sugar, and alcohol.
Purge your pantry
If eating healthier is important for you, then the first thing to do is to take back control of your personal environment. Read the spice and condiment labels! I was shocked how many of them have sneaky sugar. I recommend tossing or donating any items that have sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or ingredients that can’t be pronounced. If the non-healthy foods aren’t in your pantry, fridge, and freezer it won’t be possible to consume them. One excuse I used to give myself was that my kids deserve to eat the treats. Then I realized that this logic wasn’t helping anyone. I truly want us all to eat healthier. Believe me that we still have PLENTY of opportunities to get off track outside the house. Find out what healthy treats your family likes best and stock up on those. For my family it’s fresh or dried fruit, peanuts, cucumbers, pistachios, and pepperoni.
If you absolutely can’t stand to purge all the kids favorite items, give them a small container or shelf of their own to fill and keep separate from all of your food. My kids have a container with their pancake mix, granola bars, popcorn and soups that they like to have that aren’t on my plan.
The weekly meal plan
Ideally every Sunday, I write out the days of the week on a magnetic fridge notepad, I peak at the week’s family calendar evenings to know what nights we are eating at home, which nights are quick suppers, and which night is our dining out night.
The eat-in nights are the nights one of us can cook at home and I’ll write down a meat or fish and a veggie. The quick supper nights may consist of a rotisserie chicken, scrambled eggs or all beef hotdog or sometimes a crockpot meal. The dining out night just says ‘eat out’.
I work full time outside of the house and as I’ve shared in a previous post, I exercise most mornings before work so I end up eating breakfast and lunch at the office.
On the go breakfast and lunch options
For breakfast I have three grab and go meals:
1. A small mason jar parfait – organic plain Greek yogurt with fresh raspberries and bring on the side to add later 1/3 cup chopped pecans.
2. Hardboiled egg, some type of fruit, and a few slices of pepperoni
3. Cooked and skinned sweet potato with unsweetened coconut and chopped raw pecans. Sometimes I’ll add in bacon or Kiolbassa all beef sausage from Costco.
For lunch, I usually prepare four mason jar salads. The key to the mason jar salad is to keep the dressing (usually just olive oil and vinegar for me) on the side and load the jar with the heartiest vegetables on the bottom. For example, grape tomatoes on the bottom followed by sliced carrots, celery, sweet peppers and cucumbers, and finally a mixture of romaine and spinach at the top. Right before lunch, I pour the dressing in the jar and shake it up. I slice and add a whole avocado on top. For my protein, I either buy a rotisserie chicken and divide it into 4 pieces (one for each lunch day), add a hardboiled egg to the salad or heat up leftovers.
For my work snack, I love raw nuts, a piece of fruit, a handful of carrots, or a Quest bar. And La Croix is my go to drink. I rarely ever drink soda anymore.
So my goal for Sunday food prep day is to prepare my mason jars, clean and prep the fruit, and containerize the nuts. So an hour of shopping and an hour of prepping really sets the week up for prepared peace. If I’m squeezed for time, I just ask my family to pitch in and help. They don’t love to help but they love me so they do it. J
Dinner is the toughest meal of the day for us. We’re tired, hungry, and usually running to get somewhere. It’s a rare night that we are all home for the entire evening. We reference the dinner meal notes from Sunday and whomever gets home first starts cooking. Sometimes a quick text to the kids gets the potatoes in the oven or the water boiling. It’s difficult to get an evening routine down when there is nothing really routine about our evenings. We have a general plan and we try to work with what we have on hand. Making extra to have leftovers for breakfast, lunch, or another dinner is another timesaver! And, if weekly meal prep doesn’t happen, consider packing lunch right after the dinner dishes are done.
If you love to cook or have teenagers that can help cook, Blue Apron meals are a fun option. All the ingredients and recipes are there, the meals stay fresh for a week, and the joy of cooking is there without all prep and shop time. A meal plan option I have used when I just want someone else to tell me what to cook is Slender Kitchen. You pay $35 for a year’s worth of low carb, healthy, or vegetarian meal plans – complete with a grocery list. No time to cook, consider picking up ready-made healthy meals such as Fresh n Fit Cuisine (use coupon code ‘SAV10’ to save 10% off every order – not just the initial one). They even offer an organic paleo menu!
What works for you?
Good nutrition is an area where I’m focusing to learn savvier ways. We busy caregiving moms have to stick together and share what works. What’s working for you nutrition wise? How are you getting your families on board with the healthy eating plan? What are your go to meals and snacks? I look forward to reading your tips!