Everyone should know this by now: nutrition is responsible for 70% of how your body looks (i.e., how lean you are). The biggest complaint I hear from my clients is that they have no time to eat right: they don’t know how to plan, shop, prep and create healthy tasty meals in a short amount of time and with a small grocery budget. The good news is I DO! Like anything else that works easily in life, a “system” is key. A healthy eating system is comprised of the following steps:
4. Cook & Store
Pick one day a week where you will plan out your breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. Whether you are solo or cooking for a family planning is the same, and your menu does not need to be elaborate. For example: breakfast burritos, turkey & veggie wraps, oven roasted chicken & veggies with Quinoa, fruit, nuts, beans, humus, peanut butter and yogurt for snacks.
With your written shopping list in hand, hit the store. If you’ve got a Trader Joe’s nearby that’s your best bet for getting healthy quality for a very affordable price. Fortunately all the big grocery store chains now have organic options and carry formerly hard to find things like quinoa and whole wheat tortillas, etc. Here are some staples I recommend you always have on hand:
Canned Black beans and Garbanzo Beans (low sodium)
Peanut or Almond Butter
Low Sodium Chicken Stock
Eggs, Egg Beaters, or Egg Whites
Canned Salmon (wild caught)
Raw Organic Sugar or Organic Coconut Sugar
With these items you can always stir up a quick meal or snack.
There are two types of prepping: “non-cook” and “pre-cooking.” Snacks are “non-cook.” Place handfuls of almonds in snack bags. Same for sliced up apples or grapes. Fill a lunch or snack sized tupperware with veggies and humus; salad of mixed veggies with canned salmon and drizzled dressing. Many items can be made the night before such as turkey & veggies with mustard (no Mayo) in a whole wheat tortilla.
“Pre-Cooking” is usually exclusively for dinner preparation. In the morning I slice up a myriad of veggies and place in a ziplock bag. I do the same with boneless skinless chicken breasts, thighs, fish, organic chicken sausage (no nitrates) or tofu – whatever protein I’m choosing. Then when I get home it’s ready to cook (see below).
Pre-cooking also works for salads, or crockpot dishes. The idea is simply to slice everything up when you have the time (the night before or the morning of), and then quickly cook it (or let the crock pot cook it all day).
COOK & STORE
At night, I take my already-to-go items and place them all in a roasting pan, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, pepper and any other seasonings I’m in the mood for (curry, chipolte, herbs). Then I place the whole thing in the oven at 475○ for 45 minutes (stirring once halfway through). I might also cook a cup of quinoa in two cups of chicken stock. When the oven roasting is done, I mix in the cooked quinoa. Makes the meal go further and be heartier. (Quinoa can be pre-cooked as well and stored in the fridge.)
Or you can stir-fry the items with a low-sodium marinade if you don’t want to use your oven. Prepped items can be made for grilling as well. Veggies in a foil pouch go on the top rack, marinated chicken or fish on the bottom.
Usually while the dinner is cooking, I take 5 minutes and make the breakfast burritos for the next morning. Sauté spinach and black beans with eggs (or egg whites or egg beaters), then roll into a whole-wheat tortilla, cover in salsa or hot sauce (optional) and wrap in foil. The next day this can be microwaved (out of the foil of course). During the dinner cooking time, I also make lunches for the next day, unless I plan to make the left-overs be lunch (in which case I just get the tupperware out and ready).
Once dinner is over, I take the left-overs and store for the next night’s dinner or lunch (depending upon quantity left). If I made a huge amount (crockpot meals usually), I might freeze the rest for eating the following week.
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Hopefully these tips will help healthy nutrition seem a little less difficult to you and you’ll embrace the freedom you’ll find from having planning, shopping, prepping and cooking become routine. Lots of easy and healthy recipes are floating in the internet for you to find (especially on Pinterest), so have fun experimenting.