To aide in planning and preparing balanced and varied meals, I started completing a weekly meal planner earlier this year. It’s Nothing complicated, I simply pick out various recipes I’d like to make over the coming week, and then take time each Sunday to shop for ingredients and do some basic meal prep. The outcomes have been positive; I’ve been enjoying a home cooked meal on most weeknights and utilize leftovers for lunch the following day. I’ve saved money by ordering take-out meals less frequently.
As my work lunches became more interesting (sorry PB&J), colleagues took note of my meal variety. They, and friends have questioned how I have time and energy to come home after a work day and cook a meal from scratch. In effort to dispel the misconception that I morph into an executive chef each evening, I’m sharing various meal planning tips including my Weekly Meal Planner tool.
Heather’s 5-Step Meal Planning Process
Select Recipes & Meal Ideas– Each Sunday morning, I sort through cookbooks and my favorite cooking websites for meal ideas. I typically select 5-6 meal ideas.
Meal Scheduling– From my meal ideas, I begin entering entering them into a Meal Planner Calendar. At this time I consider what I have planned for the week work- and activity-wise. If I’m anticipating a longer work day, I’ll pick something simple for that day, like a sheet pan dinner, whereas, if I have a free night, I may decide to experiment with a new recipes or ingredient.
Grocery List– Utilizing my Meal Planner Calendar and recipes, I start a shopping list of what I’ll need to prepare everything for the week. I like to organize ingredients by food category or store section to help streamline grocery shopping.
Shop- Shopping list in hand, I head to the grocery store and pick up what I need. I prefer and highly recommend early Sunday morning to avoid crowds!
Prep– Once returning home with my ingredients, I take some time to prep what I can to make things easier during the week. For example, I wash all of my produce, slice veggies, and cook grains like quinoa and brown rice.
That’s it! This 5-step process (including shopping) takes me about 2-3 hours total, depending on how much prep I get done.
Do you meal prep? If so, leave a comment with your tips. I’d love to hear them!
Quote of the Week: “Don’t set the rest of your life of your life up on a downhill slope because of one hard season.”- Rachel Hollis, Girl Wash Your Face
When we’re going through something unpleasant, whether that be difficult, disappointing or depressing, it’s easy to get caught up in thinking that the way we feel now, and the situation we’re in currently will last forever. This quote reminded me to think of the many instances in my life in which I faced something tough; often times I did feel as though I was ‘stuck’. Yet I’m able to look back today and realize that the pain did not last, that I was able to move forward.
Something New: Thanks to my hubby, I’m catching up with the rest of the world in technology. I received an Apple Watch for Christmas and I’m now able to make calls, respond to texts, and listen to podcasts all from my wrist! One of the main features of the Apple Watch is its ability to track activity, specifically time spent exercising, standing, and general movement. Between walking my dog and going to the gym, I’m already fairly active so I haven’t believed an activity tracker would do much for me. One thing that’s come as a surprise though is the amount of time I spend sitting at work. I have the Apple Watch programmed to send a reminder for me to stand for at least a minute every hour. This may not seem like much, but with some heavy computer work this past week, I forced myself to stand a lot more than I otherwise would have without the reminders.
Training: I subscribed to 4-time Figure Olympia Nicole Wilkin’s membership site for some workout ideas and have been following her Holiday Challenge. This past week’s workouts have included many more sets and reps than I’m used to (15-20 reps), as well as other intensity-building techniques such as supersets and giant sets. This increase in training volume has been a humbling experience to say the least. I’ve been winded during workouts and sore for a couple days afterwards. My takeaway- Seek out workout ideas whenever you’re in an exercise funk. Paid membership sites, or free options such as bodybuilding.com or even Instagram offer lots of ideas to help you get back in the groove.
Quote of the Week: “Eating a donut isn’t called “cheating” and eating a salad isn’t called “willpower.” It’s just called eating.
I pulled this quote off of Instagram, from Brandan Fokken’s stories (@brandanfokken). It spoke to me because it brings light to a concern around ‘clean eating’. More specifically, clean eating taken too far, in which food choices become moral decisions. Example- “I ate a donut, donuts are bad, I am a bad person.” Most all people, even those of varying nutrition philosophies would agree that a salad is a healthier choice than a donut. Yet when a food choice becomes associated with positive or negative personal attributes, the door opens to food morality and dogmatic thinking. IMO- You are a ‘good’ or ‘bad person’ based on what you do and say, not by what you eat.
Something Old: I’m still running! Last winter I took an extended break from pounding the pavement primarily because of Cleveland’s winter weather. This year though has been relatively mild and we haven’t seen much snow. I’ve been getting out 1-2 times per week for a 3-mile run. I’m toying with the idea of a spring ½ marathon so I think these regular short runs will help with the transition into a spring training plan.
Something New: This week I signed up with a ketogenic diet coach, Robert Sikes, of Keto Savage. I’ve been eating a ketogenic diet for the past two years, stemming from curiosity and personal experiment and I’ve continued to follow it because of some beneficial effects. After completing my most recent physical pursuit, the Detroit ½ Marathon in October, I found myself looking towards a new challenge. I’ve enlisted the assistance of Robert to help me achieve my body composition goals through his Deeper State Keto protocol. A main stake of his instruction is reducing total carbs to no more than 10 grams per day. Yes, only 10 grams of carbs for the whole day! This past week has certainly been an adjustment period for my body and I have experienced symptoms of the “keto flu”, specifically headaches, nausea, fatigue and decreased exercise performance. I know these side effects are only temporary and as my blood ketones rise, I’ll start feeling much better. I’ll be sure to touch upon my progress as my plan progresses.
Something Blue‘ish’: Coffee lovers, check out Trader Joe’s Winter Blend. The only thing blue about it is the canister. I typically stay away from flavored coffee because I find the taste overwhelming, but this one is different. The flavor of cinnamon, cloves and peppercorns is subtle and enjoyable.
Lift weights 3 days a week. Perform cardio on 5 days of the week. Make sure you get to yoga at least twice a week to stay limber. Try out that new pole dancing fitness class. Oh, and that boot camp class too. Starting to feel like you need 12 days in a week? You’re not alone.
Hello from beautiful Banff, Alberta, Canada! The town of Banff is located within Banff National Park and is nestled amongst the Rocky Mountains. My husband and I are vacationing here, taking in the amazing views, hiking trails and hot springs. We even saw a mamma bear and her two cubs on our tour today! Continue reading “Travel-Friendly Keto Snacks”→
March is National Nutrition Month, and this year the theme promoted is “Go Further with Food”. This week’s Wellness Wednesday tip focuses on how you can feel better and do more by considering the foods you fuel your body with.
Food Timing- When you eat can affect how you feel both physically and mentally. Some people cringe at the thought of food in the morning, while others feel shaky if they don’t start the day with something to eat. Some can go to bed and sleep soundly after a large dinner, while others will toss and turn all night if they eat too closely to bed time. Think about your own tendencies and how meal timing affects you. If you’re a breakfast person, plan and make a habit of eating a balanced breakfast each morning before you leave for the day. Don’t risk feeling sluggish or rely on the vending machine choices to power a sharp mind and strong body.
Consider Your Health Goals- Wanting to lower your blood sugars? Then selecting foods with protein and fiber will help regulate your blood sugars and help you ultimately feel better. Interested in gaining more muscle? Then make sure you include a source of protein and carbs before and after your workouts. Whatever your goals are, do some research or seek the guidance of a nutritionist to help you find the foods that will best help you achieve your goals.
Think Food Before Vitamins/Supplements- Nutrition supplements are intended to serve as back-up for food, not a replacement. The truth is that most people don’t even need these expensive products if they are conscientious about what they eat. As an example, if you’re looking for more protein in your diet, consider eggs or skinless chicken; both are a great source of protein and contain many more nutrients than you’ll find a tub of protein powder.
I adopted little Arnie this past fall and he’s been nothing but a blessing. Well almost. His companionship, affection, and puppy kisses have come with a cost; bags and bags of puppy chow, chewed up shoes, carpet cleanings, and a sharp increase in my sneaker mileage. Ask any dog owner, and they’ll confirm that taking care of Fido is a great joy but also a lot of work. Continue reading “The Value & Importance of Hiring Help”→
St Patrick’s Day is here! As is the case with most all holidays it can be a challenge to navigate through the traditional food offerings in search of keto-friendly goods. Beer, soda bread, and hash unfortunately don’t fit the bill for low-carb, high-fat diets.
While wanting to enjoy some St Patty’s Day grub while staying in ketosis, I came up with a couple Irish-inspired meal ideas; a green smoothie that doesn’t contain any kale or spinach, and a low-carb version of Bangers and Mash. Continue reading “Keto-Friendly St Patty’s Day”→