Thursday, 19 January 2012

Quick meal strategies

"There's no way I can do this, I don't have any time to make those elaborate meals!"

First, let me congratulate you on at least giving this some thought. Changing the way you live is a BIG deal and contemplating changing in a direction that most of your friends and family don't understand is an even bigger deal. So here's a big shout-out to you just for thinking about it!

How can you make the meals you need to eat and still do all the other ten ga-zillion things in your life that aren't simply going to disappear because you want to change your lifestyle to one compatible with optimal health? Here's a few ideas that I use but I'd LOVE to hear about yours, so please post them for all of us to learn from.

Make a meal plan. Now I'll admit that I still struggle with this one from time to time but when I do it my meal prep time is cut considerable because I don't stare into the fridge thinking about what I'm going to make. When you have the makings for 4-5 great meals this can be tough if you're like me! Literally sit down with a piece of paper or computer program and write down what you'll have for each meal during the week. From this you can easily put together a grocery list (which I almost ALWAYS shop with) with what you'll need. Nothing more frustrating than having your mind set on Thai coconut chicken and being out of macadamia nuts. Ggggrrrrr!!!!

A side benefit of doing this is the ability to look back and see whet you ate on a certain day. If you ended up feeling real sleepy on a particular day you can look back and see if perhaps it was diet related. Oh yeah, I tried a new trail mix and it had a LOT of dried fruit in it (which I picked out and ate all at once). Maybe that was it.

Bulk-a-mania goin' wild near you!
Prep your raw ingredients. Shortly after I come home from the grocery store I get out all the items I'll need to use in the near future in some processed form. I de-seed the peppers and make them into long slices so when I need them chopped for a meal its a quick chop. Same for onions, mushrooms, green onions, scallions, etc. I keep mine in Zip-loc bags so a lunch wrap literally takes me 3 minutes to make. I'll buy multi-packs of steak fillets and freeze them individually, easy to thaw when you need just one. Its easy to have some celery and macadamia nuts for a snack if the celery is already washed and cut into smaller pieces just waiting for you to grab them.

Cook in bulk. I'm not talking like Marge at the cafeteria (shudder) but think "how can I make my week quicker and easier?" I boil eggs a dozen at a time; some I snack on and others I use to make my Deviled Guac Bombs or a simple chicken salad. I make a breakfast meal of butternut squash (the biggest I can find) and coconut milk with cinnamon on top that will last me well over a week (sprinkle walnut pieces on top for some crunch). And if you want to be the belle of the ball cook 3-4 packs of bacon at a single time! I use a big-ass cookie sheet with a cake cooling rack (don't tell my wife but a Wilton is perfect) and can cook a pack of thick-cut bacon in the oven (400F/15-20 min.) at a single time. My social butterfly daughters suddenly want to hang out with dear old day on Bacon Day! I then store them as slices or crumbled for easy use throughout the week. Also, the fat you drain off is much cleaner that from the frying pan and I use it from time to time as well.

I'll also make a double-batch of cauliflower mashed "potatoes" that will go with almost any meal. Think about making bigger batches that you can use multiple times throughout the week. This way you can bring your meal to work and have an excuse not to go to the chain restaurant where YOU KNOW the breadsticks alone can blow your whole carb allotment for the week.

For snacks I make my own trail mix. Into a gallon Zip-loc bag I'll put a 10 oz. package of cashews, a 10 oz. bag of almonds, a cup of walnuts, a container of macadamia nuts (if I can ever get them again at the commissary...are you listening DECA?????), half a handful of raisins and half a handful of Ghirardelli 60% cocoa baking chips.  That's a big bag of trail mix! For the nuts I try to get them roasted without additional oil and with sea salt. Definitely not the ones you think of in a can with a cartoon peanut on the front!

So if you're thinking of making the switch (which I hope you will) think long-term with meal planning and prep to make life easier. I know you folks have got some awesome ideas, so let's hear 'em!

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