Meal Planning

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. 

My 21-Day Sugar Detox Reflection

This post is a bit overdue as I finished my 21-Day Sugar Detox on Monday, January 30th. But life has been busy (a good busy!), and I am finally getting a chance to sit and write. If you wish to read my first blog post about this detox, you can find it here. First off, I would definitely recommend this detox to anyone interested in cutting their sugar cravings. By day 10 I had absolutely no desire for something super sweet. Yes, I did eat a green apple or grapefruit (allowed fruits) pretty much every day or every other day, but it was really just to get more variety in my diet. I loved exploring new recipes and trying new turnips for the first time!

I made a few recipes included in the 21-Day Sugar Detox book, but as a recipe developer myself, I have a hard time sticking to recipes, and I found myself modifying recipes. This is not to say that Diane's recipes are not amazing because they are! I just have personal tastes and usually season things accordingly. Of the recipes I tried (and/or slightly tweaked), I recommend the Mini Mexi-Meatloaves (this was fabulous!), Bacon & Root Veggie Hash, Balsamic Winter Squash rings, and the Not-Sweet Cinnamon Cookies. Beyond these recipes I made a few of my own favorite recipes. I also made almond milk every week and highly recommend trying it out as you avoid all of the extra junk that is in the store bought versions. You can purchase a nut milk bag on Amazon here; and as long as you have a high speed blender like a Vitamix or Blendec it is super easy!

The 21-Day Sugar Detox really helped me stay on top of my meal prep and gave more structure to my diet. Although, I eat fairly healthy and try my best to make time for my own meal planning and prep, it doesn't always happen when I want it to. But this detox forced me to meal prep (or else I was literally going to be eating salads and eggs all day). That is what is nice about a meal plan, it gives structure, inspiration, and a diverse, nutrient dense diet IF you stick to it and put in a little work! So with all this in mind, my average day looked a little something like this: 

Breakfast: 2 fried eggs, ½ cup of my breakfast potatoes (red potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic powder, salt and coconut oil), and some sautéed greens (spinach or kale) in coconut oil or ghee; OR my Zucchini, Kale, Mushroom, and Italian Chicken Sausage Frittata (using Applegate Organics Fire Roasted Red Pepper Chicken and Turkey Sausage - the only chicken sausage I could find that does not contain sugar).

Lunch: a big salad with plenty of veggies (usually beets, zucchini, red onions and whatever else I had), chicken breast, canned tuna or salmon, and dressing (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and dijon mustard); OR my Curried Butternut Squash Soup with some nuts; OR leftovers from dinner.

Snack: a green apple, grapefruit, raw vegetables, ¼ cup of pepitas, a handful of almonds, or unsweetened shredded coconut with almond milk.

Dinner: my Chipotle Shrimp and Chicken Sausage Vegetable Skillet; Mini Mexi-Meatloaves with cooked cabbage; my Chicken Fajita Bowl (recipe coming soon); Pot Roast with potatoes, carrots, and celery; my Paleo Spaghetti; or my Dijon Dill Salmon fillets (recipe coming soon) with baked sweet potato and vegetables. 

What I Learned:

1) How to listen to my body - I have always been a grazer, meaning I like to eat snacks throughout the day. But while on this detox my snack options were limited (my typical snack is fruit or trail mix with dried fruit) and I wanted to see if I could go longer periods without eating. My body reacted very well to this! Before the detox, I rarely found myself hungry, but when I stopped snacking as much, my body had time to reset. And since I was not eating sugar I did not experience any of the sudden shifts in energy due to sugar highs/lows. I began to feel more in sync with my body and started listening to when I should eat and how much to eat.

2) Fiber is my friend! - My digestive system was not very happy days 4-8 of the 21-Day Sugar Detox. I will spare you the details, but basically I was blocked up and not very regular for a few days. I think this was due to the fact that I was not getting as much fiber from fruits and more dense carbohydrates. I made some chia pudding (and actually developed this Chocolate Coconut Non-sweet Chia Pudding recipe because of this detox) to help get me flowing again and it helped. 

3) Protein is key to satiety and energy! - I am typically pretty good at eating a well-balanced diet, but I learned that if I did not get enough protein one day I definitely felt more sluggish and tired the next day. This is especially true while doing the 21-Day Sugar Detox as you are eating lower carb meals. 

4) I do not need coffee every morning - Crazy...right!?!? By day 14 or so, I realized I wasn't craving my morning cup of coffee or even wanting the extra caffeine boost. The last 15 days or so I have been primarily been drinking teas in the morning and feel great! The combination of no sugar, better sleep, and a clean diet left me with a ton of energy and my mood was terrific. Ok, not every day was a ray of sunshine, but I would say that 80% of the time I had more energy and felt amazing!

5) Added sugar is not worth the side affects - I know what you are thinking..."Kelsey, chocolate is my best friend and I cannot go without it!" I agree with you, chocolate is divine, but it is not going to solve any problems. And in fact for me it creates a few that I would simply rather live without. For example, when I eat added sugar (beyond fruit) more regularly, like dark chocolate, honey, maple syrup, a lot of dates, or raw sugar my face breaks out, and I feel more bloated. I have also seen a trend in my mood; if I eat a lot of sugar or even unhealthy carbs I feel sluggish, cannot think as clear, have less energy, and typically am more anxious. This could all correlate to the fact that when I am stressed I tend to crave sugary foods (I am working on recognizing this trigger); but nonetheless, if I simply avoid or limit higher sugar and carbohydrate rich foods I know I will overall feel better. In addition to clearer skin and higher energy, I felt great during my workouts and performed well! Although, I did not do this challenge in order to loose weight or "look" better, I did see a change in my body composition and know it directly correlates to eating more nutrient dense foods and less nutrient poor foods.

Overall, I highly recommend giving the 21-Day Sugar Detox a try! Except for my digestive system getting a bit funky and missing fruits (especially berries and bananas) here and there, the detox was well worth it. Now, I can confidently say that I am not addicted to sugar and am more aware of how much sugar I am eating. I know how to listen to my body, and when I am full. My energy level is more stable and I do not find myself fighting to get up and workout in the morning. If you have any questions regarding my 21-Day Sugar Detox please do not hesitate to email me!