Posts

 

Clean out your fridge and blend smoothies in an endless variety of flavors! Smoothies are such a great way to fit in so much good nutrition – get your calcium, protein, healthy carbs, vitamins and minerals, fiber, and anti-inflammatory omega-3s in one delicious glass that goes with you throughout your morning (or day)! Enjoy!

 

Recipes

 

Let’s get right down to reality: grocery shopping is not that fun of an activity for most people. Right now during the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be even worse! What is grocery shopping like in your area right now? Here there are longer lines, emptier shelves, and though I totally understand the need for social distancing, it gives me middle school ostracization vibes. Since I’m trying to minimize my exposure (to COVID-19 and the discomfort of grocery shopping), I’ve decided to try to spread out my shopping to every 2 weeks instead of every week. This poses some logistical questions: how do you eat healthy meals for 2+ weeks when many fresh ingredients only last a week? How can you possibly remember everything you’ll need?

In the past, I’ve walked you through a step-by-step method for making a meal plan. If you haven’t read that post, go check it out for some necessary background info. Today I’ll take you through some tips to make that process work for meal plans longer than 1-2 weeks. This is useful if you prefer to/are only able to grocery shop once or twice a month. It’s especially applicable right now, while we’re trying to spend less time out of our homes!

 

1. Organize your meal plan by ingredient lifespan

To maximize nutrition and variety, plan your meals around the ingredients that will “make it” to each week. Balance this based on the fridge/freezer/pantry space you have. If you have less fridge space, you may rely more heavily on your freezer. If you’re lacking freezer space, you may rely more on canned or dry goods. If you lack pantry space, stuff canned goods in your shoes! I’m kidding…sort of. Stash ’em wherever you have to – you gotta eat!

Keep in mind that foods from weeks 2-4 can always be eaten sooner, but week 1 foods won’t necessarily make it to weeks 2-4.

Week 1

Proteins Vegetables Fruits Dairy/Calcium Grains/Starches Snacks
fresh or frozen meat

  • chicken
  • fish
  • beef
  • pork
  • sausage
  • bacon
  • deli meat

dry or canned beans

eggs

tofu

leafy greens

asparagus

eggplant

mushrooms

tomatoes

snap peas

cucumber

zucchini/yellow squash

avocados

bananas (peel and freeze after 1 week if uneaten)

tomatoes

grapes

clementine oranges

lemons/limes

fat free or 1% milk

fat free or 1% yogurt

plant-based milks (make sure they are fortified with calcium and vitamin D)

low fat cottage cheese

cheese

tofu

whole grain pasta

brown rice

quinoa

potatoes

sweet potatoes

whole grain bread products

whole grain cereals

fresh veggies with hummus

apples with peanut butter

grapes and cheese

whole grain crackers with cheese

tortilla chips with salsa and cottage cheese

dark chocolate

Week 1 Meal ideas: chef salad, deli meat sandwiches, salmon with grilled or roasted asparagus, tacos, hamburgers, veggie scrambles/frittatas, Greek cucumber and tomato salad, Buddha bowls

 



 

Week 2

Proteins Vegetables Fruits Dairy/Calcium Grains/Starches Snacks
frozen meat*

  • chicken
  • fish
  • beef
  • pork
  • sausage
  • bacon

canned salmon, tuna, or chicken

dry or canned beans

eggs (hard-boil after 2 weeks if uneaten)

tofu*

cabbage

carrots

broccoli

cauliflower

beets

butternut or acorn squash

bell peppers

onions

apples

oranges

pineapple (buy under-ripe or canned)

watermelon

frozen berries

frozen bananas (leftover from week 1)

fat free or 1% milk* (take out to thaw 2-3 days before you need it)

fat free or 1% yogurt (individual containers will last 2 weeks)

plant-based milks (make sure they are fortified with calcium and vitamin D)

cheese

tofu*

whole grain pasta

brown rice

quinoa

potatoes

sweet potatoes

whole grain bread products* (take out to thaw 1 day before you need it)

whole grain cereals

whole grain crackers with cheese or canned tuna/chicken

trail mix

whole grain chips (e.g. Sun Chips, Food Should Taste Good tortilla chips)

frozen edamame (microwave and salt!)

yogurt with frozen berries & granola

dark chocolate

*Freeze as soon as you get home from shopping.

Week 2 meal ideas: stir fry (use any protein you like!) with rice, BBQ chicken w/coleslaw, beef stew, butternut or acorn squash soup, chicken parmesan w/spaghetti, broccoli/cauliflower chopped salad, pita pizzas, Asian chopped cabbage salad, pork chops with steamed broccoli, loaded baked potatoes

 

 

Weeks 3-4

Proteins Vegetables Fruits Dairy/Calcium Grains/Starches Snacks
frozen meat*

  • chicken
  • fish
  • beef
  • pork
  • sausage
  • bacon

canned salmon, tuna, or chicken

hard-boiled eggs (made in week 2)

dry or canned beans

tofu*

canned/jarred veggies

  • peas
  • green beans
  • beets
  • diced tomatoes
  • roasted bell peppers
  • pickled asparagus

frozen mixed vegetables

vegetable-based sauces

  • marinara
  • salsa
  • pesto

onions

canned peaches or pears (look for those canned in juice and top with a dollop of light whipped topping – yum!)

frozen berries

frozen bananas (leftover from week 1)

dried fruits

  • raisins
  • cranberries
  • cherries
  • mango
  • pineapple
  • bananas
fat free or 1% milk* (take out to thaw 2-3 days before you need it)

fat free or 1% yogurt* (take out to thaw 1-2 days before you need it)

plant-based milks (make sure they are fortified with calcium and vitamin D)

tofu*

whole grain pasta

brown rice

quinoa

potatoes

sweet potatoes

whole grain bread products* (take out to thaw 1 day before you need it)

whole grain cereals

beef or turkey jerky

fruit leathers

trail mix

whole grain chips (e.g. Sun Chips, Food Should Taste Good tortilla chips)

frozen edamame (microwave and salt!)

dark chocolate (yes it’s on EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK…you can tell the haters your dietitian said so)

*Freeze as soon as you get home from shopping.

Week 3-4 Meal Ideas: chili with tortilla chips, deviled eggs with pickled veggies, tuna casserole with frozen peas and carrots, tuna fish or egg salad sandwiches, smoothies, spaghetti with green beans, jambalaya

 



 

2. Include “catch-all” meals 1-2 times weekly

 

 

“Catch-all” is the term I use to affectionately refer to meals that are delicious with nearly any combination of vegetables. These are super useful when you’ve got odds-and-ends produce left over from other meals. Think curries, soups, stir-fries, scrambles, etc. Schedule 1-2 of these in each week to use up whatever produce you have milling around or that is nearing it’s early end to make sure it doesn’t go to waste.

If you’d like more ideas for catch-alls, check out this post I wrote entirely about these nifty meals!

 

3. Have some “plan B” meals available

“Plan B” meals are my term for meals you can make entirely from frozen or shelf-stable ingredients. Essentially, they are “week 3-4 meals” that aren’t part of your actual meal plan. I always keep 1-2 meals worth of “plan B” meals available for when the inevitable happens to your plan A. Maybe you had to use up your ingredients early because they were going bad, or maybe some hungry family member unknowingly ate your entree for Friday’s dinner. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress if you keep one or two of these handy just in case.

 



 

4. Check your staples before you shop

Shopping for several weeks at a time can make it tough to anticipate all of the kitchen and household needs you might run into. When I plan for a big shop, I’ve learned I must actually take the time to check (yes, open the cupboard and look at) my storage of all of our household staples. Otherwise, I forget that I used up the garlic powder or I don’t notice that my husband used the last Band-Aid. Even worse for a lockdown situation, I might not realize that my teenage son killed the last of his deodorant (yipes)! You don’t want to have to wait 3-4 weeks for some of these necessary staples. Take the time to check it. I know it’s annoying, but the 5 minutes it takes is worth it. Use a staples list to help you out (you can find a pre-made one here, or see mine in this post). Don’t forget spices, hygiene products, and pet supplies!

 

5. Store it the right way

 

Spend some time making sure you are properly storing your produce for maximum freshness. I’m constantly learning new ways to store veggies to keep them longer! Check out some of my favorite tips for storing produce:

  • tomatoes: keep them out of the fridge and intact (on the vine if possible)
  • carrots: store point down in a jar of water in the fridge to retain crispness
  • spinach/lettuce: remove plastic and store unwashed in an airtight container with a folded paper towel
  • mushrooms: store in a breathable bag (paper bags work well) with a folded paper towel
  • broccoli: store naked in the produce drawer
  • onions/garlic: store at room temperature in a cool, dry place
  • potatoes: store at room temperature in a cool, dry place
  • butternut or acorn squash: store at room temperature in a cool, dry place
  • bananas: break apart bunches and store separate from other produce (bananas can ripen other produce more quickly)

 



 

I hope these tips have helped you navigate long-term meal planning! Leave me a comment and let me know what was useful (or other posts you would like to see)! Stay safe and healthy!

You Might Also Like

How to do a Pantry/Freezer Challenge (step-by-step walkthrough)

Streamline your Healthy Week in Just 20 Minutes per Week

The Must-Try Meal Planning Hack to Stop Wasting Food and Money

Wellness Tips

 

Does lockdown make you wonder if you might have a problem with food? Do you find yourself craving sugar or bingeing on snacks or treats, especially at nighttime? This is exacerbated by the fact that we are all home (ALL the time), and all that tasty food is right there for the taking. There are several steps you can take to identify or overcome emotional eating. The first and most important thing is to determine what causes your food cravings. Determining the cause will help you discover whether or not you have a food addiction or if there is another potential cause for your food cravings.

 

How to Determine what triggers your cravings

Check in with your intakes 

Most of the time, cravings are a response to a need for fuel. Many of my clients get cravings in the evenings, especially for sweets or salty snacks, because they are undereating either carbohydrates or calories throughout the day. More than half of my clients who are trying to lose weight are actually undereating, so honestly assess the possibility that you might be over-restricting. Common symptoms include low energy, poor sleep (or sleeping too much), brain fog, fatigue, memory issues, anxiety, emotional dysregulation/moodiness, and food cravings (especially cravings for carbohydrates or sugar). There’s nothing wrong with eating those foods, by the way, but we want to be in a place of intentionally choosing to eat them because we will enjoy them, not feeling compelled to eat them because your body is just so. Dang. Hungry!

If you aren’t sure (most of my clients assume they need to eat less than they actually should), find a Registered Dietitian to help you know how much you should actually eat. I’m still offering video appointments during the lockdown! Most adult clients should be eating more than 1400 calories and well over 100 grams of carbohydrate daily (even if you’re trying to lose weight or if you have diabetes). Calorie tracking apps and online calculators are often inaccurate.

 

   

 

Assess your emotions

If you are certain you are meeting your body’s needs and you still struggle with a compulsion to eat unhealthful foods on a regular basis, try looking at your emotions. The second most common cause of food cravings has to do with dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that makes us feel content. Negative emotions are usually paired with low dopamine. The brain sees low dopamine as a problem that needs to be fixed and will often go hunting for a way to raise it. Eating delicious food is a quick way to get a rush of dopamine. So, often our brains will go straight to the fridge to fix the problem! Your brain doesn’t care if you eat ice cream, it only wants dopamine.

  1. Ask yourself if you are experiencing a negative emotion. Boredom, loneliness, stress, anxiety, and depression are common culprits.
  2. If the answer is yes, the first line of attack is to try to raise dopamine in a way that doesn’t involve food. You can do this by turning to an activity that you truly enjoy. Calling a friend, doing a crossword, going for a walk, or reading a book are examples of activities my clients have used. The key is that you enjoy it – otherwise it doesn’t raise your dopamine!
  3. Sometimes you don’t have the time to do an alternative activity, so the next line of attack is to try to find a healthier food option. Craving salty snacks? Go for a couple handfuls of tortilla chips with salsa,  pretzels, or whole grain chips or crackers (Sun Chips and Triscuits are great options). Sweet tooth calling out to you? Try frozen grapes,  graham crackers, or berries with vanilla yogurt or whipped topping. Finally, if you know that a healthier activity or alternative will not do the trick, it’s not a failure.
  4. Try to moderate the amount of a craved food that you eat. Three to four bites of a desired food can cause the peak amount of dopamine response within the following 10-15 minutes. The take-home message? Rather than eat continually until your dopamine peaks and you feel better, try to savor that tasty food for 3-4 bites then wait 10-15 minutes. After that, reassess to see if you still feel like you need more.
  5. If you are certain that you really want the food you’re craving, go for it! It is not a failure to eat food you love. Do not feel bad about it! Food is meant to be enjoyed. The most important thing is that you choose to eat intentionally and not because you are underfueled or you feel out of control.

Seek an outside opinion

If you have evaluated the above topics and are still struggling to get to the root of your food cravings, it could be possible that you have a food addiction. Evaluation for food addiction is still in its early stages. Researchers from Yale University have created a food addiction scale but the scoring system is complex and it is not widely used. For now, the best method is to meet with a Registered Dietitian and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Since food addiction by nature is a crossover between mental health and food habits, each professional can have a valuable perspective. If it turns out that you do have addictive food behaviors, a holistic treatment plan will involve them both as well.

 

 

You Might Also Like

How to do a Pantry Challenge (step by step walkthrough)

Save Time with 5 Healthy Convenience Foods

How to Make Healthy Changes that Actually Stick

Wellness Tips

Cook and bake with what you have

 

Since we’re all trying to stay home and avoid random trips to the store, it can be tough to cook when you don’t have all of the ingredients your favorite recipes call for. The good news is, there are often many ways to swap things out, and you may find alternatives that you like better than the original!

Start off with this list of ideas to keep you cookin’. Keep in mind, all of these swaps can go the other direction too!

 



 

If your recipe calls for… You can use… Things to note
sour cream plain yogurt (or Greek yogurt)
cream 1 c. milk + 2-3 Tbsp melted butter
egg (in baking) 1 Tbsp chia or flax seeds soaked in 3 Tbsp water (1 egg equivalent)

OR

1/2 mashed banana

These alternatives will replace the binding properties of an egg in baking, but not necessarily the flavor of an egg.
baking powder 1 part baking soda + 2 parts cream of tartar This is actually the recipe for baking powder – you can make it at home anytime!
cream of tartar 1 part white vinegar + 1 part lemon juice
cream cheese cottage cheese, pureed until smooth
bacon bacon bits, Canadian bacon, ham to replicate the flavor of bacon only, use liquid smoke
bread crumbs crackers, oats, or stale bread (blend to crumb in food processor), crushed bran cereal for seasoned bread crumbs, add salt and herbs like parsley, oregano, and rosemary
rice pasta, couscous, bulgur, quinoa, barley, potato flakes
syrup for sweetness/flavor applesauce
wine broth add some vinegar for tartness/flavor if desired
raisins dried cranberries, blueberries, or cherries, chopped dried apples, chocolate chips
vinegar white wine, lemon or lime juice, sauerkraut juice (yes, really!)
mayonnaise plain yogurt, sour cream
broth boullion cube/paste/powder
butter shortening, margarine, oil Most oils will not work well to substitute for butter in pastry baking, because it requires the fat to be solid. Coconut oil will sometimes work.
brown sugar 1 c white sugar + 1 Tbsp molasses This is the recipe for brown sugar – you can make it at home anytime!
buttermilk plain yogurt or 1 c. milk + 1 Tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar
dark corn syrup molasses, maple syrup, light corn syrup + brown sugar
light corn syrup honey
tomato sauce 1 part tomato sauce + 1 part water
cinnamon nutmeg
beer apple cider vinegar, beef broth
fresh herbs 1/3 recommended amount of dried herbs
hot sauce 3 parts cayenne pepper + 1 part vinegar, diced jalapeños
salt crushed boullion cube, soy sauce, parmesan
flour (for thickening soups or sauces) 1/4 c. cornstarch + 2 Tbsp cold water, potato flakes
pesto sauteed spinach or kale + garlic + olive oil + salt Add pine nuts and some parmesan cheese if you have them!

 



 

You Might Also Like

How to do a Pantry Challenge (step-by-step walkthrough)

5-Minute Heart Healthy Pizza Sauce

Easy Food Preservation to Save Money

Eating Well on a Budget Wellness Tips

Eating Well on a Budget Wellness Tips

 

We’re going on two solid weeks of quarantine in my area, and we recently started a shelter-in-place lockdown. Gyms have been closed for several weeks and now all parks, beaches, and government-owned trails are either shut down or we have been recommended to steer clear. While necessary, these closures can make it seem impossible to find a way to stay active (not to mention find the motivation to do so)!

While it may not be your preferred way to be active, video workouts can be a saving grace when your gym and equipment (and much of the great outdoors) are unavailable. Many different Youtube creators have been generating free fitness-related videos for years, all of which are at your fingertips. With these Youtube channels, there’s something for everyone!

Important: As with any new fitness regimen, make sure to have your doctor’s approval and use this form to help you assess your risk to safely incorporate new exercise. Discontinue any movement that causes sharp or shooting pains, modify as needed, and progress gradually.

 



 

1. POPSUGAR Fitness

 

 

  • Type of workouts: All kinds – cardio, barre, boot camp, kickboxing, Zumba/latin dance, strength and toning, Pilates, yoga, and more
  • Reasons you might love it: Think of POPSUGAR as a live, video version of a fitness magazine workout. They have many skill levels of balanced, well-rounded workouts with certified trainers, and they often instruct on modifications. If you love female-oriented workout classes, this is a great place to start!
  • Reasons it may not be a good fit: The models are very fit and dressed like fitness models. You’ll swear they aren’t breaking a sweat. Staying fit and aesthetic is their job – for most of us, that’s not the case. If that’s going to be discouraging, you may prefer a different channel.

 

2. Fitness Blender

HD wallpaper: Fitness couple doing working out exercises in the ...

  • Type of workouts: Cardio, HIIT, kickboxing, strength training
  • Reasons you might love it: Fitness Blender offers a no-frills approach to video workouts. The set is very simple (one exercise demonstrator on a white background), the workouts are balanced, and you’ll definitely get your sweat on. There is no background music so you can play your own favorite tunes.
  • Reasons it may not be a good fit: If you love a high-energy, music-pumping group fitness experience, the simplicity of Fitness Blender may not offer the atmosphere you crave.



 

3. The Fitness Marshall

File:TheFitnessMarshall.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

  • Type of workout: Hip hop cardio dance
  • Reasons you might love it: With all due respect, Caleb (aka “The Fitness Marshall”) is like a very hip, very modern Richard Simmons. He’s high energy, he’s hilarious, and he is an EPIC hip hop dancer. His videos are inclusive of a variety of shapes, sizes, genders, races, and sexual orientations. He sometimes messes up and totally plays it off – no perfection needed, just have a blast dancin’!
  • Reasons it may not be a good fit: Obviously, if you don’t like dancing or hip hop music, this is not the channel for you. You should be forewarned that while most are, not all of his videos may be appropriate for your kiddos. Since everyone’s kids are home now, you might want to screen individual videos before putting them on the big screen.

 

4. Yoga with Adriene

 

 

  • Type of workout: yoga (you’re shocked, I know)
  • Reasons you might love it: Adriene has a darling, low-pressure personality and her videos are very peaceful and relaxing. She has yoga videos of all lengths and for all situations (headaches, anxiety, back pain, stress, sore muscles, and more). If you’re new to yoga, her 30 Days of Yoga is a great place to start while in quarantine. Plus, if you’re lucky, her adorable dog Benji will make an appearance!
  • Reasons it may not be a good fit: This may be dangerous Internet territory but I would be remiss if I did not mention that yoga sometimes encourages spiritual practices. Emptying your mind and connecting with the spiritual realm provides opportunities for harmful spiritual attack. While Adriene rarely incorporates these practices, you should be aware. Take the videos for the excellent stretching and breathing exercises, and use the time of mental clarity to meditate on God’s word or to pray (Philippians 4:8).

 



 

5. HASfit

 

 

  • Type of workout: cardio, strength, and some equipment workouts
  • Reasons you might love it: Led by two certified personal trainers, the workouts are balanced and effective and come in a wide variety of lengths. Got 10 minutes? Got 45? There’s a video for that. They have options for all skill levels – they even have an awesome seated workout. If you have some home equipment you’d like to utilize (dumbbells, kettlebells, etc.), they’ve got you covered.
  • Reasons it may not be a good fit: If you don’t love calisthenics or you prefer a workout that is a distraction from the fact that it’s exercise (i.e. dancing or kickboxing), this may not be the channel for you.

Hopefully these Youtube channels may provide you with some fresh activities to try while you’re riding out the Coronavirus storm. Hang in there. Don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself to be as active as you normally are. This is a difficult time for many of us, and while activity can help with stress reduction, it won’t help if you’re stressed about the workouts themselves. Give yourself some grace and patience as you find your footing. Look for workouts you really enjoy, and stay safe and healthy!

 

You Might Also Like

How to Make a Binge-Watching Workout

How to Meal Plan on a Budget (step-by-step walkthrough)

How to Choose an Exercise Plan that Works

 



Exercise Wellness Tips

 

This fruit-and-nut granola bar recipe is versatile, nutritious, and delicious. Make it with ingredients you already have – clean out that pantry and save money!

 

 

Eating Well on a Budget Recipes