Browsing Category: diet countdown

20-day diet prep plan: Day 3 — Ingredient prep

ingredient prep, + why i like it better than meal prep

how to chop an onion

If you didn’t get groceries yesterday, do that today. Doing ingredient prep before the first day of your new diet is probably the best thing you can do to start off strong. I like it better than prepping full meals, because it opens up more flexibility on a day-to-day basis. And it’s not as time-consuming on the front end, while still saving you time when you fix your meal.

You don’t have to do it all at once; do it over two or three sessions if that works better for you. Do you like company in the kitchen? Invite some! Prefer solitude? Put on your favorite music and tell everyone else to stay outta your way!

Ingredient prep suggestions:

  • Chop enough onions to last you two to three days. If you’re not already adept at dicing an onion, here’s a how-to from SimplyRecipes. Dicing onions would be a good thing to practice and get comfortable with, because this is the first step to just about every savory dish.

cubed roasted sweet potato - whole30, paleo

  • Nuke one or more sweet potatoes, and dice them.
  • If you’ll be using hamburger: Cook up some hamburger, and/or form it into individual patties; store both in the freezer. Divide the cooked hamburger into one- or two-serving baggies for quicker, easier thawing.

bacon-egg-salad-oh-500

  • If you’ll be using cooked chicken, and you didn’t buy it already cooked: Roast some, grill some, or cook some in the crockpot.  Divide the cooked chicken into one- or two-serving baggies for quicker, easier thawing.
  • If you’ll be using bacon: Cook a batch in the oven.
  • If there are any spice mixes you want to make, mix those up. (My taco seasoning mix.)
  • Hard boil some eggs, if you want to use them in your menus. (This handy glass egg timer ensures that your eggs are cooked just right, every time!)
  • Making salads? Make one or two salad dressings. (Scroll to the bottom of this post to find links to my sugar-free dressing recipes.)
  • Chop parsley and put it in a baggie in your freezer. Squeeze most of the air out. It keeps for weeks, and it’s easy to grab a tablespoon or a handful, as your recipe requires. No more chopping, no thawing needed.

Optional bonus task to start your new way of eating: If you’re doing Whole30, going Paleo, or drastically reducing the amount of sugar and carbs you’re accustomed to, you might want to subscribe to the Whole30 Daily – 31 days of support and encouragement in the form of daily emails ($14.95). Every day you’ll receive an email newsletter from Whole30, telling you what to expect at this point in your journey, and how to cope with it. I found it really helpful and encouraging, especially through the first two weeks, which can be rough!

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ingredient prep, + why i like it better than meal prep

20-day diet prep plan: Day 4 — Make a grocery list

I just bought groceries - then ordered in because I didn't feel like cooking.

I just bought groceries - then ordered in because I didn't feel like cooking.

Make a grocery list, based on the meal plan you made two days ago. Here are some other lists to help:

You can do the shopping today or tomorrow — as you wish! You will be doing some food prep tomorrow, so keep that in mind.

grocery list for easy healthy meals

The handy grocery list template shown in the image above is available as a printout at designsponge.

20-day diet prep plan: Day 5 — Purge your kitchen!

by changing your mind you change everything

by changing your mind you change everything

Changing the way you eat starts with changing your mind — and then changing your kitchen!

So today’s task is: purge your kitchen. Get rid of (or put seriously out of reach) anything containing ingredients you’re swearing off of. Whether sugar in all its forms and disguises, items with the word “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” on the label, wheat and/or gluten. etc.

Print out this pdf to help you identify sugar by another name: Sugar in all its disguises

 

How much sugar is in your meal?

Get a quick visual read on how sugar is in your drink, snack, power bar, donuts, etc. at: sugarstacks.com

20-day diet prep plan: Day 6 – Plan your first week’s meals (and my flexible meal plan approach)

org-unimaginative-anne-taintor-770x270

Today’s basic task: Plan your meals and snacks for the first week.

And if you haven’t already, you might want to start eating protein with every meal. Just a suggestion.

For meal-planning-haters

Some people love to meal plan; some hate it. If you’re in the second camp, hang with me! I’ve tried having a detailed meal plan in the past, but I love my last-minute flexibility too much to conform to it all the time, so I’ve come up with a method that relieves me of some of the forethought, but leaves day-to-day options open.

NOT like this:

meal planning reality check

Nor can I handle meal prep like this…

#mealprep - lunches

I admire people who can, but that just ain’t me! I need something more flexible.

My sort-of, flexible meal plan

The way I plan my meals provides a balance between me having to figure out what to cook every single day, and providing some flexibility for day-before or day-of adjustments. My weeknight dinner plans look something like this:

Monday: Cook’s choice. I make whatever sounds good or easy that day, or something to use up any weekend leftovers. If I were going to make this more specific on a week-to-week basis, I would say — soup in the winter, salad in the summer

Tuesday: Chicken or pork. This is usually something that just gets stuck in the oven to roast — often with veggies on the same pan. If I were a crockpot kinda girl, I’d use the crockpot, too.

Wednesday: Salmon for me, steak for my husband. He’s happy to grill himself a steak once a week, and I have several easy salmon recipes that I prefer, so this is easier than it sounds!  Video and serving options > How to pan-sear salmon, perfectly!

Thursday: Burgers – usually with sauteed onions and/or mushrooms on top. But sometimes with bacon and guac. Or marinara and Parmesan. Minimal dish clean-up! (Because Thursday is the day I get tired of doing dishes.)

Friday: Stir-fry – get it? Stir-Fry-Day? Sometimes this is Asian, sometimes more like fajitas without the tortillas. Might be chicken, steak, pork, or shrimp. If I were working full time, I would probably grab my veggies pre-sliced from the store.

This way, my “what’s for dinner” dilemma is narrowed down, eliminating dozens of options to sift through, but it still leaves me room for adapting to what I have on hand, what’s on sale, or whether I feel more like American, Mexican, or Asian that day.

Of course, you can adapt this to your style. Does your family do meatless Mondays or fish on Fridays? Move salmon to that day of the week. Is Wednesday night extra crazy for you? Make that your soup or burger night, prepping everything the night before.

You can swap out other dish types or themes that suit you: Taco Tuesday, hot dog bar, noodle (or zoodle) night, etc.

I’ve found this approach very easy to live with. Meal planning can be a huge help to sticking with your new way of eating, but it doesn’t have to be restrictive or labor intensive, so I hope you’ll try this out and find it helpful, too!

12 of my favorite easy main dish recipes:

Easy pork tenderloin

Ancho-crusted salmon

Balsamic-glazed salmon

Adaptable fish tacos

Low(er) carb chili

Caesar salad – & 30-second Caesar salad *

Tex-Mex salad*

Quick easy buffalo chicken quesadillas *

One-pan chicken with veggies

Sloppy Joe-tatoes

Brat and cabbage soup – great to make the day or night before!

Salsa verde chicken* – seriously: dump a few things in a pan and put it in the oven!

*Contains cheese and/or beans: forbidden for those on Whole30, but okay if you’re just focusing on eating real food, and/or eliminating sugar and refined carbs.


The Meal Plan for People Who Hate to Meal Plan

>>>HEY! WANT MORE DETAIL? I’ve expanded and modified this post, turning it into a six-night plan with links to over 30 easy real-food recipes. I’ve also included tips for adapting meals for people on different diets. Get it for free when you sign up for my mailing list!

Learn more.

 


Featured image source: Anne Taintor

20-day diet prep plan: Day 10 — Make a plan for Christmas!

Eating well is a form of self-respect.

Christmas is only two days away!

Decide NOW which sweets and carbs are most important to you, and commit to eating ONLY those. I encourage you to write this out, post it on Facebook, or tell a friend, to really crystallize it in your mind, and commit to it.

The idea is to hit a line somewhere between “I can’t have any sweets or treats,” and “I’ll eat whatever I want!” Plan on skipping the things that you don’t love so much, but enjoy and really savor the things you do! Maybe your friend can help you sort out what those things are.

Here’s a message I put on my calendar a few years ago; I set it to reappear every December 20:

Christmas sugar reminder

This is a gift you’re giving yourself, so that you’ll feel better afterwards! Remember…

Eating well is a form of self-respect.

 

 

But if you do “slip up” or “mess up,” think about this…

Saying I messed up so I may as well eat crap is like saying i dropped my phone so i may as well smash it.

 

But more importantly: lest we get too wrapped up in food and other material stuff, let’s also remember that Christmas is about something much more important…

Peace on earth, good will to men

A peaceful Christmas to you and yours;

may you recognize and thoroughly enjoy every blessing that is yours!

(See you here on the 26th.)

———————-

{ Christmas calligraphy by Anderson Inkwell }

——–

 

 

20-day diet prep plan: Day 11 – Plan your lunch strategy

meal prep: freezer burritos

Next step in your ready-for-new-year-and-new-diet: Figure out now what your lunch plan will be.

storytime coffee seattle

If you eat out for lunch:

  • Research the online menus at your favorite restaurants and figure out what you can eat that’s as healthy as possible. Things to avoid:  sweet salad dressings (Caesar, blue cheese and, to some extent, Ranch are usually safe — unless you’re avoiding dairy — and Greek is usually low sugar or no sugar), anything “glazed” (will have sugar), anything breaded and/or deep fried (wheat and trans fats), fries, chips, an excess of bread or pasta, anything smothered in cheese or cheese sauce. And, of course, dessert and sweet drinks.
  • Chain restaurants with generally healthy choices: Chipotle, Jason’s Deli, Panera
  • See my post on eating Paleo when eating out. Even if you’re not doing strict Paleo, there are still good tips here for avoiding sugar and carb overload.

#mealprep - lunches

If you pack lunches:

If you’re up for some weekend meal prep, take notes from this guy.

antipasto salad

If you eat lunch at home:

Figure out a few lunch templates you can work from. I tend to develop two or three favorites and rotate them till I get tired of them, or the season changes. Lots of salads in summer (especially this mayo-less tuna), lots of soup and hash in winter. But there are endless variations! Here’s some inspiration:

Told you these days would be short and sweet!

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