How to Meal Plan and Prep Like a Boss

It's the beginning of a new year and like most of you, I am thinking about ways I can better myself in 2018. The beginning of this year has been a little different from past ones. I didn't make a list of resolutions like I have done previously, instead I am focusing on a few major intentions I've set for myself. Since I'm all about transparency, let me share these personal intentions with you so you can help hold me accountable. 

1) Invest more time into loving myself (key word: ACCEPT)

2) Worry less, enjoy more (key word: RELAX)

3) Spend time making nutritious food (key word: MEAL PREP)

4) Treat my body with respect and keep working towards better health (key word: RESPECT)

5) Love and care for those around me with intentionality (key word: LOVE)

The truth is, when I put myself first and take care of my needs by showing self-love, taking more time to relax/play, and devoting time to bettering my health through eating well, working out, sleeping more, and listening to my body, I have more genuine energy to love those around me well. Like me, I am sure some of you have chosen to focus on eating more nutrient dense, wholesome foods or maybe you've chosen to cook at home more often and eat out less. With this in mind, I thought it would be the perfect time to break down how I meal plan and prep on the weekends to help set myself up for success.

Step 1) PLAN

I know it sounds obvious, but without a plan you're going to spend a lot more money and time buying and preparing food.  A lot of people simply head to the grocery store and think they will be inspired by the produce they see or simply try to "wing it", but that leads to higher grocery bills, little motivation, and vegetables rotting away in the refrigerator a week later. You see, meal planning is a crucial step to eating healthier on a budget! Here's my advice:

- Take inventory of what you already have on hand. Look through the refrigerator and freezer to see what produce and/or meat needs to get used up. This will help reduce waste and save money.

- Dedicate a certain block of time each week to browse your favorite websites, cookbooks, or Pinterest for recipes and/or ideas.

- Choose 4-6 meals for the week (depending on the size of your family). Choose at least 1 breakfast option, 1 lunch option and 2 dinner meals that you'll have leftovers from. A time saving trick when planning meals is to factor in at least two meals that use the same meat. For example, plan to slow cook a pork roast and use the pulled pork for tacos as well as served on top of sweet potatoes. Also, you don't always have to follow a recipe; simple meals are often better for people new to cooking. For example, lunch may simply be some grilled chicken with steamed broccoli and a baked sweet potato topped with coconut oil. Since I'm a nutritionist, I feel obligated to say something about seafood. If you like seafood try to aim for 2 servings of fish a week. There are some major nutrients in seafood that we don't get from other meats and it's important to keep variety in our diet. Otherwise make sure you're taking a quality cod liver oil supplement 3-4 times a week (the ones from generic stores aren't well sourced and could be doing more harm than good). 


- Write out your grocery list. Multiple any recipes that need it in order to accommodate your family size; remember to bank on at least two leftover dinner nights. Break your list up by departments in the store (produce, dry goods, spices, dairy/eggs, meat, and freezer) to save time from running back and forth. I like to use the list app on my iPhone for groceries so I can check off that I've put the item in my cart and not have to carry around a pen and paper in the store.

- Next, formulate a plan for prepping your meals. Some tricks I generally use: If something needs to bake, start that recipe first so it can bake while you work on another recipe. Chop or dice all your vegetables (from all recipes) at one time and use designated prepping bowls. You'll save time by washing and chopping everything at once. If you have a slow cooker or Instant Pot recipe chosen for the week that you want to wait to make, prep as much as you can in advance, and store it in a large container or plastic bag so that you can easily start the slow cooker before work or cook the meal the evening of. Also, you don't have to prepare all your meals in advance. It's nice to save 1-3 dinner meals so you don't feel like you're eating leftovers every night (that is if you have time to cook during the weeknight).

- Set a date with your kitchen to meal prep. If you tend to get burnt out from grocery shopping, maybe it's best to shop and meal prep on separate days. Do what works best for you!

- Double check that you have the proper storage containers for your meals. 


This is the part where most people stumble. You've made a plan and now it's time to execute it! You can do it! I promise the more times you stay true to your plan and follow through, the easier it becomes.

- Go shopping! Either physically go to the store and purchase your items, or shop online using the many online grocery shopping features.

- Start chopping, dicing, cooking, and baking! Follow the plan you formulated and use the designated time you've set aside to prepare your meals.

- Store meals in ready-to-go containers so you have less to deal with in the morning. If you have breakfast and lunch already portioned out you're more likely to actually eat it, and you'll be less frustrated when you chose to hit the snooze button in the morning.

This may sound like a lot at first, but I promise you that it gets easier! Remember if eating healthy and nutritious meals is a priority of yours, meal prep should be a blessing not a dreaded chore. If you've chosen to meal prep more often this year, I'd love to hear how it's going. Comment below or email me any questions you may have. 

Healthy Through the Holidays

With Thanksgiving less than 3 weeks away I wanted to share some tips and tricks to help you navigate through all the delicious food and treats that come along with the holidays. These 5 tips have helped me stay more mindful at parties, family dinners, and celebrations so that my health and wellness aren't compromised during the  6+ weeks of holiday festivities.

1) ALWAYS offer to bring a dish, snack, or dessert to share!

Whether it's a work party or a nice family dinner, I always volunteer to bring a dish to the gathering. This allows me the option to choose a healthier, real food item that I feel comfortable eating myself. Some of my favorites are autumn/winter salads, roasted vegetables, mashed sweet potatoes with coconut oil, a vegetable tray with hummus, fruit salad, or a Paleo dessert. I am guaranteed to eat at least one healthy item (or cleaner dessert) if I bring it, and I don't have to worry that there won't be anything healthy to eat (which can sometimes lead to giving in and indulging in all of the treats because you feel deprived).

I have linked some great recipe options to make for celebrations here:

Creamy Poppyseed Berry Apple Salad

Roasted Brussels Sprout & Beet Salad

Mid-West Winter Salad

Autumn Breeze Salad

Salmon Herbed Quinoa

Creamy Broccoli & Cauliflower Dill Salad

Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites

Paleo Pumpkin Spiced Cookies

2) Pack healthy snacks when you travel and/or stop at a grocery store when you arrive at your destination.

This tip goes for anytime of the year, but since I travel more around the holidays it is a good reminder. I like to boil some eggs a head of time and make either granola, Paleo muffins, or my breakfast cookies for both breakfast and snack options on the road or once I get to our hotel or relative's home. In addition, I pack vegetables like baby carrots, snap peas, sliced bell peppers, and cucumbers. I always bring apples as they are a fruit that travels well. Typically, I'll pop some homemade popcorn and pack that in a gallon ziplock as well (popcorn is my keep my awake snack while I'm driving ;)). Other snack items I will pack include: RX bars, Larabars, collagen peptides (to put in my tea/coffee/smoothies/water), almonds, and maybe some dark chocolate if I know I'm going to want something sweet. I can't tell you how many times I've been on a road trip and stopped at a gas-station and been tempted by all the candy, only to find there are no clean chocolate options! I stay away from all dyes and most added preservatives so gas-station food is usually not an option, thus why I prepare in advance! Of course many of these snacks would be difficult to bring if you are flying, but you can still get creative. Boiled eggs will be totally ok up to 8 hours unrefrigerated, as will most cut vegetables, and of course many fruits (apples, pears, plums, oranges, grapes, etc.) are good for days without refrigeration. If I know my husband and I are going to need to eat more than one meal on the road, I usually make tuna or chicken salad so my husband and I are guarantee some good nutrients during our drive.

Another helpful thing I have learned over the years is to not be afraid to go to the grocery store when we arrive at our destination if I have access to a refrigerator. Since I'm a huge foodie and nutrition nerd, I like picking out my own groceries and browsing stores I am not as familiar with. Some items I may pick up would include: grass-fed or dairy-free yogurt, almond milk, eggs, frozen berries, vegetables to roast, spinach for salads and smoothies, and ingredients for homemade dressing (if I don't pack it with me). These items would be for breakfast and any other meal where my family or friends aren't all eating together. 

3) Fill your plate with 1/2 vegetables, 1/4 protein, and 1/4 carbs! Skip the rolls, traditional stuffing, and green bean casserole.

If I find myself in front of a buffet of food at a party or am seated at a nice dinner with family, I ALWAYS pick out which vegetables I want to eat first. If I have the opportunity to fill half of my plate with leafy greens, salads, or cooked vegetables I will! From there, I look for the a good source of protein. This could include roasted turkey, dishes with chicken, chili with ground beef, or maybe even pulled pork if I am lucky (I love pulled pork)! Lastly, I fill the remainder of my plate with a healthy source of carbs like mashed sweet potatoes (hopefully not loaded with brown sugar and conventional butter), baked squash, or a baked potato. Since my plate is full and I know I'll be satisfied, I am way less likely to reach for the rolls, stuffing, or green bean casserole which all likely have been made with conventional butter, soup cans full of preservatives, or processed breads. In addition, these foods/dishes are typically  more nutrient poor in comparison to everything else already on my plate. These types of foods tend to be higher in poor quality saturated fat and carbs as well. Please hear me out: I absolutely LOVE my mom and aunt's homemade stuffing, and I may have a small portion because I know they use real ingredients and it isn't made from a box; my point is to not fill up on nutrient poor items. If you or someone you know has put a lot of time and love into making true homemade dishes by all means it is ok to have a small portion! I plan to try making a homemade Paleo green bean casserole this year at some point, and trust me I'll be eating a fair portion of it! This tip is more beneficial when you know the foods most likely are not 100% homemade and you are given a large amount of food options to choose from. I always encourage: 1/2 a plate of vegetables, 1/4 plate quality protein, and 1/4 plate quality carb source.

4) EAT A DESSERT OR TWO at a planned gathering!

Yes, you read that right. Please eat a treat IF you really want one! Don't deprive yourself of something that is enjoyed with close family and friends just because you are tying to be "healthy".

 I usually have a game plan of eating 1-2 small desserts per gathering IF I feel there is something worthy enough to have. That is a big IF. Let me give you an example. My mom's family is HUGE. We all get together for a Christmas lunch and there are over 60 relatives in one house! This means we have to bring a lot of food AND desserts. Typically one of my aunts makes grass-hoppers for everyone, and all the other families bring a tray of homemade Christmas cookies. By this point in my life, I have tried my fair share of Christmas cookies and know which ones I like more than others. So with this in mind, I plan to enjoy 2-3 cookies (they are small) that I know I am going to love. And yes, I mean enjoy. You shouldn't deprive yourself from something you love! The key is mindfulness, truly enjoying the treat, and appreciating the moment and holiday tradition you love. I'll probably pass on the grass-hopper this year because of the green food dye (it's not worth it in my mind), but I know I will enjoy some type of cookie with caramel and chocolate and probably a reese's peanut butter cookie. Food is meant to be enjoyed, not abused or restrictively controlled.

5) Don't over-indulge during the week.

While I do usually enjoy a treat or two at planned gatherings, it was because I planned for it and truly wanted it. I try to avoid unnecessary treats during the week, like candy sitting out at stores or offices, extravagant holiday lattes or mochas that are loaded with sugar, or treats that someone has offered me out of the blue. If I wasn't looking forward to having a treat it is 10x easier for me to pass it up. When I am able to look forward to the next social gathering, knowing I've stuck true to my healthy eating for the majority of the week I am going to get so much more pleasure out of partaking in some wine or dessert at a social gathering I have planned for.

This brings to my attention: home-baked goods. Those delicious treats that sit around most  homes the month of December are so very tempting! Whether it is leftover pumpkin pie or freshly baked Christmas cookies and fudge, treats in the house ALWAYS leave a temptation. One of my family traditions is making Christmas cookies with my mom and sister.  We spend hours baking away in my mom's kitchen signing to Christmas music and laughing. It's a tradition I truly look forward to each year. With this in mind, I have learned that when my mom sends me home with a container full of cookies I can't leave them in my house otherwise I will eat them all in a week or so! Over the years I've learned that sweets are definitely my weakness and I'll be the first to admit it. So, what do I do? I keep a few in the freezer to enjoy when I REALLY want one, but otherwise I send them all to work with my husband. He can choose to share with his co-workers or not.

Now, I understand this isn't feasible for everyone as many of you have families with little ones who would like to have a Christmas treat throughout the week. If you struggle with mindfulness around baked goods and sweets, my suggestion for you would be to have your significant other store them somewhere you don't know where the container is located. When your kids want a treat they will be able to when your significant other is able to get them one and you won't know where they are hidden. After a day or two you'll likely forget all about them entirely. Yes, this seems a little silly, but it will likely work and most likely help keep your sugar dragon away! One other tip I have; if you want cleaner treat options try out some Paleo, dairy or grain-free recipes as they will have real food ingredients that won't compromise your health as much as baked goods made with conventional sugars and flours. There are some great food bloggers out there that have amazing holiday treats. See some of my favorites below:

Shortbread Cookies by Against all Grain 

Pumpkin Pie Cookie Crisp by PaleoOMG

Seven Layer Bars by Against all Grain

Paleo Peppermint Chocolate Crinkle Cookies by the Healthy Maven

Grain-Free Apple Spice Coffee Cake by Against all Grain

Paleo Fudge by Fed and Fit

Pumpkin Bread by Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind

Chocolate Coconut Bites by Pinch of Yum

I hope these tips and tricks help you have a more mindful holiday season and new perspective  when enjoying the upcoming holiday parties and celebrations!

New Year's Resolutions & Goal Setting

Happy New Year!

As many of you are making New Year’s resolutions or goals for 2017, I thought I would offer a few suggestions to help with the process and hopefully help you achieve them. 

First and foremost, I encourage you to write down 20 things you are grateful for AND 20 things you are proud of yourself for accomplishing in 2016. It could be as simple as “getting out of bed every morning” or “reading a book”. The goal of this exercise is to start off in a positive and reflective mindset. It will help you reflect on what went well in 2016 and give you hope and motivation for accomplishing things in 2017.

5 Things to Consider as You Write Out Resolutions or Goals for 2017

1. Decide if resolutions/goals OR a word, phrase or sentence is best for you.

While a list of 2-10 goals/resolutions is great for some of us, it may be unrealistic for others. This can be especially true depending on what kind of season of life a person may be in. Choosing a word to focus on for the year rather than a tangible goal may be more important (i.e. balance or grace). If you are in a season of change (moving, new job, new baby, etc.) you may be better off focusing on ONE goal/word/resolution rather than creating a list of them. You can always add to your goals as your season changes and allows, but this way it won't seem overwhelming and you will be more successful in achieving them.

2. Order your goals in regards to what is most important to you AND what area needs the most improvement.

For example: If your health is important to you, it will likely play a critical role in setting goals around family or relationships. If you are not healthy yourself, your relationships with others are probably not as healthy as you may like or as they could be. Some areas to consider when goal setting:

  • health (physical, emotional, mental)
  • career
  • financial
  • personal/spiritual
  • relationship/family
  • home
  • adventure
  • travel


I would advise against setting a firm goal such as; “I want to lose 20 pounds”. While that may be a really good goal, try setting a few more tangible goals along the way that you can achieve on a daily basis that will help you reach that larger, overarching goal. Try something such as: "I am going to get up and go to the gym 5 times per week", or "I am going to meal prep every Sunday", or "I am going to reduce my latte consumption to 1 per week". 

Most of us will often say things like "I am going to give up sweets for 30 days” or “I am going to workout everyday after work” but then find ourselves failing within two weeks. Why is this? Perhaps because we are the rebellious type and like to do things our own way. If you don’t truly BELIEVE that you can accomplish your goal, don’t set it! It is that simple. Try something more realistic and set a goal like “I am not going to eat sweets unless I am at a special event or eating at a sit-down restaurant”. You still want the overall objective to be fulfilled; but by allowing yourself a few occasions that you can enjoy sweets you are less likely to rebel and give-in. Some of us need to be able to see the "light at the end of the tunnel" or "multiple lights" and this method gives room for this! 

4. BREAK GOALS DOWN even further!

Ask yourself: what can I do on a MONTLY basis? And what can I do on a DAILY basis to help reach my goal? Change requires a little bit of work every day and seeing weekly or monthly progress helps people stay motivated.


When trying to improve upon areas where you lack motivation, ask yourself a few questions in order to better understand how you can accomplish your goals in those areas. By asking questions you open up doors that allow you to see the bigger picture from a smaller lens. Once you have a few action steps leading up to answering your question, take one at a time and work towards the bigger goal. 

  • how can I improve my workspace (so that I am more comfortable at work)?
  • how can I get promoted to a manager?
  • how can I make time to meal prep?

6 Things to Help You to Stick to Your Resolutions

    1. Make larger changes one at a time.

    You are more likely to succeed at grocery shopping every week, meal prepping, and eating healthier because they all coincide together. However, if you decide you want to dental floss your teeth every night, watch CNN every morning, and do a 5 minute ab routine prior to bed you are less likely to succeed at continually doing all three. Instead add one goal each month. This way your mind will already be programmed to dental floss every night; it’s part of your routine so adding something else will be more obtainable. 

    2. REMOVE YOURSELF from temptations.

    If you have decided to not eat processed sugar, don’t buy the teddy bears or fruit snacks for your kids. If treats are in the house you are more likely to give in when temptations strike! Contact me if you need ideas for healthier snacks for your kids!

    3. Replace bad habits with better ones! In other words: REDIRECT YOUR ATTENTION

    For example, if you are fond of drinking a can of diet coke when the afternoon blues hit at work, reach for some herbal tea or a flavored sparkling water instead (La Croix is a great brand without bad additives and flavoring). Stock your desk drawer with healthy alternatives and you will be less likely to walk to the vending machine for a soda or candy bar.

    Or if it’s an action you are trying to replace, like biting your fingernails, try putting some barriers in place. For example you can paint your finger nails with clear nail polish so it tastes gross or you can place a sticky note in a few places where you find yourself bitting your nails the most often that says something positive in regards to why you want to stop the habit like “I am calm and my nails love me!”


    As much as some people don’t like planning ahead it is crucial to keeping your resolutions and obtaining goals. BUT MOST importantly make your schedule work for YOU! If getting up at 5am every morning to work out sounds like torture to you don’t set that goal! Juggle your schedule around and go into work an hour early if you can and leave work by 4:00pm to get the workout in!

    5. Have someone hold you ACCOUNTABLE!

    Find an accountability partner to help you stay on track and check in with you every week! You are more likely to stay on track if you know someone is going to be calling you to ask how your 3 runs went that week!

    After writing down your goals, it is very valuable to place them somewhere you will see regularly so they are always in the forefront of your mind. Take a picture of your list and send it to your accountability partner so they can have something to look back on easily.

    6. RE-EVALUATE Progress

    Lastly, re-evaluate how your resolutions are going every month. For example, if you had set a goal to sign up for a yoga class and then halfway through realize you miss the fast-paced HITT training, that’s totally OK! You tried something new and it’s ok to let yourself do something you love. Or if you set a goal to eat eggs for breakfast at least three times a week, but deep down you don’t like the consistency of eggs, either find a new way to cook them that you enjoy more or find another high protein breakfast source. If something ins’t going well after 1 month, you don’t need to force yourself to continue. Re-evaluate, ask why you wanted to have the resolution, find alternatives or modify the resolution slightly. 

    We are blessed to have another year, let's make it count! I know you can do this! Let me know how I can help you along the way.