As some of you may already know, I lost about 50 lbs a few years ago.
One of the (many) reasons my weight got out of hand in the first place is that often I would be scrambling at the last minute to figure out meals for my family and me, so much of the time I would end up eating from the hot bar at Whole Foods, snacking on goldfish crackers, ordering pizza or finishing my kid's fish sticks because I was exhausted and couldn't deal.
I have heard (and uttered) every single excuse out there. Too busy, too tired, don't know what to make, can't cook, sick of everything, don't like cooking for only myself, my kids won't eat anything -- I get it.
So I want to share with you my #1 secret to feeding yourself (and your family) happily and healthfully.
Ready for it?
Pretty simple, right?
A little bit of prep work can both save AND trim your a** in ways you won't believe.
Being prepared does not necessarily mean having 4 boxes of Annie's mac & cheese and some chicken soup on hand. While it's always good to have your pantry stocked in case of emergency, processed food is never going to give you lasting weight loss and make you healthy at the same time.
The following are a few of my tried and true ideas for things to have around so that when 5 PM (or 1:00 PM or whenever) rolls around, you can have some options available to inspire you towards a yummy and healthy meal.
- Poach some chicken breasts. Put some chicken in boiling water or broth, cover with a lid, turn down to a simmer and walk away for 15 minutes or until they are cooked through. Remove to a plate, and when they cool down you can shred or dice them and then they'll be ready when you are. They will last in your fridge for about 4 days. Use them in salads, add them to soup, season them with a little chili and cumin and roll them up in tortillas for burritos and enchiladas, or add mayo, celery, salt & pepper, and a little bit of curry powder for a super simple lunch option.
- Keep some pesto in your fridge. This is one of my most favorite things to have on hand. Slap it on some salmon, cod, or chicken, throw it in the oven for twenty-ish minutes and all will be well for dinner. You can scramble pesto with eggs, toss it with pasta, spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles or even spread it on a baked potato. Pesto makes everything a little more yummy.
- Chop up your favorite veggies so they are ready to go. Spend a few minutes cleaning, slicing and dicing in preparation for salads and stir fries, dipping in guacamole and/or hummus, or for my personal favorite, roasting. I roast vegetables at least 3-4x per week. I use whatever I have in the house: onions, broccoli, red cabbage, green beans, carrots - any of these tossed with some salt, a couple tablespoons of olive or coconut oil and roasted on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes becomes crowd-pleasing fare for almost everyone. (roasted red cabbage slices? So good!!). Make extra for tomorrow's dinner or for your salad at lunch. Leftovers rule!
- Hard-boil some eggs. You can use them for egg salad, put them in a green salad or eat 'em for a snack. They are delicious, high in protein and all you have to do is boil water. They'll keep for at least a week in your fridge.
- Keep some sweet potatoes hanging around. You can bake them in the oven with your pesto chicken, steam and mash them with butter and salt or dice them and roast them with an onion and some Brussels sprouts. Either way you win.
- Have a variety of salad ingredients on hand to add to a bag of mixed lettuce or chopped romaine. Things like toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds, sliced fennel and radishes, fresh basil and feta cheese keep salads new and interesting. Sometimes when I am in prep mode I take a bunch of beets, cut off the tops and the ends and then wrap the beets in aluminum foil. Roast them in a 400 degree oven for an hour and when they cool down you can simply slip the skins off and you will have roasted beets for your salad.
These are all things that require very little hands-on time and virtually no cooking expertise. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Having things prepped and waiting in the refrigerator means healthy choices await you when it's time to eat. It's an opportunity to take charge of what and how you feed yourself.This is a great strategy whether you make time on Sunday night to get ready for the week ahead or, like me, you prep whenever it fits into your schedule.
It's the first step to good health and your body will thank you!