meal plan

Monday Meal Plan 7/14

Can you believe it’s already the middle of July?? This summer is flying by! I sat my butt (which is getting more and more toned every day, hooray!) on the couch most of the weekend and happily wasted it… At least it was raining and cloudy all day Saturday. I got a few good naps in too, and planned out all of our meals for the week. Here’s what’s on the menu:

Breakfasts:

Avocado, Chopped Hardboiled Egg and Mozzerella on Toast, with a Banana

On Rest Days – Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Protein Shake

(Sorry, I don’t have recipes for either of these, I’m kinda just throwing some things together and hoping for the best. I’ll add recipes later this week if they turn out well and I remember!)

 

Lunches:

Dinner leftovers and…

Avocado and Apple Chicken Salad over Spring Mix Greens (I never made this last week…)

 

Dinners:

Polenta with Roasted Red Peppers and Fontina (and I’m adding crumbled Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage to the skillet mix)

 

Biggest Loser’s Sexy Joe’s on a Whole Wheat Bun with Cauli-Tots (I’m making 6 servings out of the Sexy Joe Filling)

Avocado Chicken Parmigiana with Steamed Green Beans and Carrots

 

All of these meals are about 330 calories each. 3 meals a day at 330 calories each = 990 calories, plus a 240 calorie afternoon snack, and a 200 calorie dessert each day, brings me my goal total of 1430 calories per day. Just like last week, I also planned my carbs around my runs. I’m excited to give this diet plan a real chance this week since it’s a more “normal” week for me.

What’s on your meal plan this week?

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Monday Meal Plan

Mondays are my easy run days. I think the longest run I have on a Monday during my marathon training is just 5 miles. Just 5 miles. Who would’ve ever thought I’d be saying 5 miles was just 5 miles!? Anyways, I digress. I figured since I had easy runs on Mondays, and a pretty predictable day of watching my niece and maybe going to yoga at night, I’d dedicate my Monday posts to my weekly meal plans. I’m always looking for new good recipes, maybe some of you are too? If I’m going through this much work to put together my recipes for the week, I may as well share! So….

Breakfasts:

Ham and egg English muffins (homemade – cross your fingers!), with fresh pineapple

Whole Wheat English Muffins

On rest days – hardboiled eggs with fruit (banana, strawberries, cherries)

Lunch :

Dinner leftovers and…

Avocado and Apple Chicken Salad

Avocado and Apple Chicken Salad

Dinners:

Baja Style Turkey Tacos on homemade Corn Tortillas

Baja Turkey Tacos

Homemade Corn Tortillas

 

Thai Chicken Curry with steamed broccoli and brown rice/or steamed carrots and cauliflower for lunch leftovers

Thai Chicken Curry

 

BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato and green beans

BBQ Bacon Burger

Meat stir fry with veggies – This is my “just it case” meal and will be whatever’s left in the fridge at the end of the week!

 

There are also snacks and desserts in there too. We have standard inexpensive snacks that we keep in the house and a Kitchen Safe full of fun sized chocolates for desserts. But that’s all another story for another day. What’s on your menu this week?

The Dreaded “Diet”

As I’m sitting here this morning meal planning for my week, I thinking how I could still make it to yoga even though I don’t think the class is challenging enough I’ve strayed so far from the diet that originally got me the results I wanted/needed. It’s so easy to slip back into old habits. Even habits as bad as having chips and dip for dinner and candy for breakfast. Sneaking food past your husband because he’ll be mad if you eat all the chocolate chips. I read a post by another blogger last night, Katie from Runs For Cookies, that described her struggle with the exact same thing. The one thing she pointed out that I’d never realized was that my healthy foods, the ones I make all the time – my fall back recipes, just didn’t taste as good as when I first started eating healthy. And I think it’s because I’ve welcomed processed foods and eating out back into my diet. Now the healthy stuff doesn’t taste as good and I crave the junk. I felt pretty convicted after reading Katie’s post and it reinforced that it’s time for me to buckle down and really get this under control. I am capable of fulfilling my nutritional needs. And especially while training for a marathon. Why would I think I could be a diet slacker while running 20-40 miles a week??

Getting back to the basics. When I first lost weight, what actually worked for me was The Biggest Loser diet. 4 servings of fruit and veggies, 3 servings of lean protein, 2 servings whole grain, and 1 “extra” (200 calories). 1200 calories per day and exercise. When I meal plan, I’m not too far off from that plan. I just have something like 5-10 servings of “extras” instead of one. I realized this weekend, though, that I’m not eating enough around my workouts so I’m starving by the afternoon. Which means I’m more likely to eat junk instead of my planned out meals. My new daily plan needs to look something like this:

(Please keep in mind that I’m not a nutritionist, this is just a tweak on what’s worked for me and what I think will work for me in the future. Please see a professional dietitian or doctor before jumping on any diet bandwagon!)

Diet Plan

My Running Diet Plan

That’s right. I got all fancy on ya. I bet you didn’t expect that! Anyway, I’m basically sticking to The Biggest Loser diet standards, just putting my carbs right before and after I run. Here are a few more adjustments I’m making to the diet:

  • Dividing my “extra” calories between dessert (gotta have a little chocolate before bed!) and my afternoon snack. The afternoon snack one may move to breakfast, lunch, or dinner, depending on what I’m making.
  • Eating more than 1200 calories. There’s just no way to eat that little when I’m running so much. But I am going to try for 330 calorie meals, and 200 calorie snacks and desserts. That’s a little under 1400 calories. On days that I have long runs, I’ll probably add in an extra 200 calorie morning snack.
  • Eating more than 1 serving of fruits an veggies at meals. According to the USDA, one serving of a fruit or veggie is just a half cup. There’s no way I’m going to have just 4 oz (one serving) of lean protein and a half cup of veggies for a meal. It’s not enough food. So I may have 2 servings. Or even 3! Veggies especially have so little calories that I have some wiggle room to eat more of those.

Did you notice that dairy isn’t included anywhere in the plan? It’s a little hidden. Yogurt, eggs can count as a lean protein and milk and cheese would be considered “extras”. Butter and oil are obviously “extras” too. I usually use an olive oil mister when cooking. The calories are so minimal, maybe just 10-20 to coat a pan, that I don’t typically count it toward any category. I do count the calories though!

So now I’m off to make my meal plan according to this new/old plan. Wish me luck!

An Update One Week In.

Has it been a whole week already? Time flies when you’re having fun really freakin’ busy. First things first. Sunday is my weigh in day and since that’s today I have a weight update! This past week, by eating healthy (in moderation, no strict dieting!) and working out (again, moderately) I lost 3 lbs! My clothes fit better, I feel a lot better, and my stomach is nearly flat again (not that it’s been totally flat since I was 15…). I’m pretty happy about it and proud of myself that I stuck it out a whole week. It means I went 7 days…

-without binging

-eating a diet heavy in fruits and veggies

-consuming no more than 100 calories of candy/chocolate/sugar

-making exercise a priority

How did my husband do you ask? Well, he was really on track for the first 3 days. And then we went out of town for 2 days. He ate what was given to him at his work conference (including a large piece of chocolate mousse cake), and had a pretty big (free at least) breakfast with pancakes. We both had pizza for dinner last night. Totally a fail. But I was still only 500 calories over my daily goal. I’m sure he was way over that. Tonight he’s at a graduation party so I’m sure he’s enjoying the spread. I know he’ll get back on track tomorrow.

I do have quite a bit to share tonight, but I think I’m going to save it for another time. For now I’ll leave you with our meal plan for the week:

Megan Breakfast: Breakfast Hash with Sweet Potato and Chicken Sausage (from Cook This Not That!) or Banana-Berry Green Smoothies (1 frozen banana, 1/2 C Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness juice, 1/2 C frozen strawberries, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder)

Husband Breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Nut Crunch with Cream Whole Wheat Belgian Waffles (a few leftover from last week) or Special K (The Aldi version) with Almond Milk and a banana

Megan Lunch: Dinner leftovers or Breakfast Hash

Husband Lunch: Sandwiches on whole wheat bread with fresh fruit and sweet potato chips

Dinner #1: Greek Marinated Chicken with Grilled Balsamic Marinated Veggies (chicken from Budget Bytes, veggies my own concoction – recipe soon to come!)

Greek Marinated Chicken from Budget Bytes

Dinner #2: Spicy Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Lime Crema with Best Black Beans (tacos from Foodess, black beans from All Recipes)

Spicy Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Lime Crema from Foodess

Dinner#3: Chicken, Cashew, and Red Pepper Stir Fry with brown rice (stir fry from Cooking Light)

Chicken, Cashew, and Red Pepper Stir Fry from Cooking Light

Snacks will essentially be the same as last week. Speaking of – everything we ate last week tasted sooo good! I didn’t have high expectations for the Asian Turkeey Meatballs with zoodles, but it was super quick and easy to make and tasted delicious. I actually added matchstick carrots to the zoodles for some color and they added some nice sweet flavor. The Chocolate Chilli wasn’t really chocolately at all, but it tasted a lot like mole. Kinda Tex-mex with the polenta fries. Will definitely make it again! And the Zesty Chicken bites. Hands down the best chicken nuggets I’ve ever made. Ever. The seasoning was so perfect! (Although the salt zoomed out of the canister faster than I thought so they were a little saltier than they should’ve been!) I would make then again tonight if I had the patience to dip them in egg, then seasoning, then turn them while baking. I hate making chicken nuggets, but these are worth the effort without a doubt!

What about you? What are you eating this week?

Together.

This afternoon’s conversation:

Husband: What are we doin for dinner tonight?

Me: I don’t know.

Husband: You know, if we’re gonna start eating healthy again tomorrow, we should eat one last bad meal.

Me: I know. I think so too. So what should we have?

Husband: I don’t know maybe a pizza from the store?

Me: I don’t wanna cook. I’ll have to cook all week. Let’s pick something up.

Husband: Pizza?

Me: Panera?

Husband: I don’t know. What else is there?

Me: We could do Chili’s To-Go. Or maybe just make some appetizers?

Husband: You didn’t want to cook.

Me: That’s right. I forgot. We could get a 10 pack of tacos from Taco Bell.

Husband: Nah. How about Domino’s?

Me: Alright.

The moral of the story is – You know you’ve eaten too bad too long when you nothing bad sounds good.

We’ve both been complaining for a couple weeks now about how we haven’t been eating well and how we’ve gained some weight. My main problems are laziness and a certain minty candy that I am hopelessly addicted to. My husband’s problem is lack of a plan. He’ll actually eat really well if a healthy lunch, dinner, and snack are prepacked for him. But when I get lazy and don’t cook in a timely manner, he ends up snacking on junk food at work and then eating dinner late at night when he gets home. So we decided we’re both going to buckle down on our eating habits together.

I’ve got 3 dinners planned, then a breakfast for myself and a breakfast for my husband. I have a decent variety of snack foods, and I bought some fun sized candies for dessert. Even with having preplanned recipes, I still managed to stay on budget for groceries for the week. ($60, in case you were wondering.) I just tried to pick things that were simple – didn’t take long to make, used basic ingredients, and I’ll be swapping some “fancy” ingredients for some simpler ones (like olive oil in place of sesame oil). Here’s the plan:

Megan Breakfast: BLTE’s (from the Biggest Loser Family Cookbook) or Banana-Berry Smoothies (frozen banana, 1/2 cup Naked Berry Blast juice, 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder)

Husband Breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Nut Crunch with Cream Whole Wheat Belgian Waffles (from Our Best Bites)

Megan Lunches: Dinner leftovers or BLTE’s

Husband Lunch: Sandwiches on whole wheat bread with fresh fruit and sweet potato chips (from Aldi!)

Dinner #1: Asian Turkey Meatballs with Lime Sesame Dipping Sauce over Zoodles (from Skinnytaste)

Asian Turkey Meatballs with Lime Sesame Dipping Sauce via Skinnytaste

Dinner #2: Chocolate Chili with Polenta Fries (Chili recipe from The Clothes Make The Girl and Polenta Fries from Oh My Veggies)

Chocolate Chili via The Clothes Make the Girl

Polenta Fries via Oh My Veggies

Dinner #3: Zesty Chicken Bites with Lighter Loaded Potatoes and Green Beans (Chicken bites from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen and Loaded Potatoes from Undressed Skeleton)

Zesty Chicken Bites via Lexi’s Clean Kitchen

Lighter Loaded Potatoes via Undressed Skeleton

For snacks, we’ve got hummus with red peppers, carrots and pita chips (which I baked from pita bread today, just added a little olive oil and salt and left in the oven on 400 while I did the dishes – so 8-10 minutes?), string cheese, protein bars and Larabars, cherries, strawberries, apples, apple sauce, fruit leather strips, almonds and other nuts, popcorn, sweet potato chips, and tortilla chips with salsa.

We’re gonna prep our breakfasts tonight, and always make our lunches and pack our snacks the night before. I’m going to make two of our dinners tomorrow, and the third on Wednesday. So we should have plenty of healthy meals in the fridge.

As far as out diet “rules” go, we are (I am?) just watching calories. Each meal is about 340 calories per serving. My husband will eat a serving and a half of each plus a 300 calorie snack and a 200 calorie dessert – a little over 2,000 calories per day. I’m having a single serving of each meal, a 200 calorie snack, and a 200 calorie dessert – a little over 1,400 calories per day. We should each be losing about a pound a week. Really, this is how we should be eating all the time. (Hopefully, eventually, we’ll get there!)

But for tonight, pizza. And Jr. Mints. (And gummy bears for the husband) Last time for a while! Cheers!

Simple, Balanced, and Delicious

Since I’ve gone to part time and my whole meal planning routine has gone out the window, I’ve been working on easing into a new system that will work for us. I used to plan breakfast for my husband, breakfast for me, and 3 dinners that I’d double so I could have the leftovers for lunch. Everything but my husbands sandwich and snack stuff would get prepacked into tuppeerware containers in the fridge at the beginning of the week. I’d spend about 4-5 hours one night (Sunday or Monday) and make everything all at once with my husband’s help. It was seriously efficient, rigidly structured, and a huge time saver throughout the rest of the week.

Post-cooking frenzy fridge.

Post-cooking frenzy fridge.

I thought that when I went to part time, I’d figured I’d be so excited to have more time to make these meals. I wouldn’t be up doing dishes at midnight on a Sunday night after making 4 meals. I’d be able to make even better food cause I’d be able to try out new recipes and make more from scratch. Now that I’m actually working part time, I’m enjoying a slower pace of life. I don’t want to stress myself out cooking extravagant meals. I don’t want to spend my mornings washing dishes. I’d rather be reading a book, writing a blog post, working out, spending time with family. So I’ve adopted a new mantra when it comes to my eating/cooking/dieting:

Simple, Balanced, and Delicious

There are tons of benefits to eating this way.

  • It’s cheaper! Eating simply made meals require far less ingredients. For example, this past week I made a turkey breast in the Crockpot with roasted red potatoes and a side salad. Total number of ingredients – 9 (plus seasonings). Total cost = about $12 (for six meals!) I’ve been spending about $65 a week on groceries at Aldi instead of my normal $85-100 at Meijer. And we have plenty of food stocked up. In a couple weeks, we’ll probably just need to buy some cereal and milk and lunch meat. We could probably cut our grocery budget by 30%!
  • Less clean up! By having cereal, milk, and a banana for breakfast I only have one bowl and one spoon to wash. When we’d make more complicated breakfasts, there’d be extra pans, knifes and cutting boards, skillets, pans and even appliances to clean up. An easy egg bake which we probably would make every other week would require me to wash a knife, a cutting board, a skillet, a casserole dish, and then a plate and fork for each serving.  That’s a whole lot more than a daily bowl and spoon!
  • It satisfies cravings! Back when I would meal plan for an entire week, I’d have three options for all of my lunches and dinners all week. If I got sick of a meal, I’d have to eat it anyway. If something didn’t taste as great as I’d hoped, I’d choke it down. Now, if I want Italian (like I did last night), I throw some turkey sausages in the Crockpot with sliced peppers and marinara, along with a small scoop of whole wheat pasta, dinner’s made, craving’s satisfied, and I’m less likely to binge later.
  • It’s fresher! Almost all food will last in the fridge for a week, easily, cooked or uncooked. Not that our tupperware food ever tasted bad because it sat in the fridge for a few days, but fruits and veggies have a much better texture when you eat them right after they’ve been cooked or chopped. This week, we made tacos and I threw together a zucchini/corn saute to top them with. There’s no way the soft and crunchy texture would have been the same after sitting in it’s own juices in a tupperware for 4 days. Edible, yes, delicious, not really.
  • It saves time! Meal planning, grocery shopping, and managing the food in the cabinets/fridge (putting groceries away, clearing out stuff that had gone bad in the fridge, etc.) used to take me 3-4 hours a week. And that wasn’t even cooking anything or cleaning up! Now, I grab a quarter and my reusable grocery bags, shop without a list (the horror!) at Aldi, take a few minutes to clear out the old stuff from the fridge, put the groceries away, and I’m done for the week. It takes me at most and hour and a half. Even if I need to stop at another store for a few things, it takes me maybe another 45 minutes. Still way less time than it used to take me.
  • Less Waste! Since there’s no meal plan, I use what I have. When I grocery shop, I just get the basics. No fussy ingredients. I’ve found that everything fresh gets used up quicker and we throw out a lot less!

Sure, there are a few downsides to eating this way too:

  • Tracking calories may be harder. I haven’t been tracking my calories lately, just watching my portions. But if/when I do start to track them, I won’t just be measuring and weighing out 3 meals a week, it’ll be potentially 4-5 dinners a week plus breakfast and lunch. I’m hoping to lose a little more weight before I begin training for my marathon which will mean some serious calorie counting for a few weeks. Things could get a little dicey.
  • Forgetting to plan ahead. Sometimes my husband works a day shift at one job and then an evening shift at another. If I’m not careful, he won’t be home for dinner and there won’t be any leftovers for him to take to work for dinner. Not a huge deal breaker, but something I need to work on for his sake.
  • More processed food. I was on track to eating almost exclusively all non-processed food. I still stick with foods that have fewer ingredients, but I am buying more premade foods. Mostly sauces, pastas, and some snack foods. I’m always careful to watch for high sodium and added sugars.

All in all, the pros outweigh the cons. And it fits for my current lifestyle. I imagine this is actually how most people “meal plan” and eat. What about you? Are you more of a strict planner/shopper/cooker? Or a fly by the seat of your pants/shop without a list/eat what you crave in moderation kind of person? How does it work for you? Anything you’d like to do differently?

Thursday, Belated and Elated

Yes, I realize it’s Saturday and I’m just now posting about Thursday. I just couldn’t skip my scheduled Thursday post because my day was just that good! Let me get the boring stuff out of the way first…

Since I’m working part time now, and my husband is working extra, the deal is that I take care of everything in our home. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, finances, laundry, and basic maintenance. All he has to do is mow the lawn, snowblow or shovel the sidewalks when it snows, and help out with the occasional project around the house. (For example, we’re hoping to pretty up our landscaping this summer, I can’t do a lot of that on my own.) So I spent most of my day Thursday working from home, reconciling our finances, and cleaning the house. Honestly, most of those were things I did when I was working full time and I have no idea how I used to get it all done! I was exhausted, but the show must go on. With three hours left of my day, I decided I had enough time to get a workout in.

On Wednesday, we got another 4 inches of snow, but I still chose to run outside Thursday. I didn’t really have time to drive to the gym to run. I layered up (It was about 30 degrees out and cloudy) and stuck to the middle of the street. It seems that everyone had boycotted shoveling this late winter snow (oh well, it’ll melt in two days anyway) so that was the only bare ground there was. Luckily, 2pm seems to be a very low traffic time in my neighborhood. I’d love to say that I had a great run, but I didn’t. I keep struggling with asthma-type symptoms while running. And it’s not the weather because it happened in San Diego too. Anyway, I completed 3 very slow miles. And then I came in and did the 15 minutes of “yoga abs” from Bob Harper’s Yoga for the Warrior DVD. Holy moly. That was a tough workout.

After my workout I threw on some boots and a hoodie and ran some errands. Yes, I was that girl wearing leggings and boots in public. Shame, shame. It couldn’t matter, I had to get some groceries. You guys, I shopped without a list or even a plan. I walked through Aldi and grabbed a bunch of stuff I thought I could make into a few meals: cereal and almond milk, a frozen turkey breast, red potatoes, bananas, frozen green beans, whole wheat gnocchi, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, refried beans, tortilla shells, eggs, shredded mozzarella, Italian turkey sausage, and some healthy snacks. I just can’t get into a cooking groove lately, so I’m going back to the basics: meat and veggies, Mexican, Italian, cereal, sandwiches and salads, and maybe even (gasp!) a casserole. My husband was actually impressed that I planned to make a turkey in the Crockpot for dinner Sunday. And I was working so hard to make all these healthy, whole meals. I’ll have to keep you updated on how this all plays out.

After grocery shopping I had to get ready for the Imagine Dragons concert. I’ve been a huge fan of theirs for almost two years, from the very first time I heard Radioactive play on my Pandora while running. We saw them when they came to Chicago a year ago when we were one of the lucky ones who got tickets to their second night at the House of Blues after the first night sold out in 2 minutes. I’m so glad we had the chance to see them at a small venue before they got huge last year! This time, we saw them at a sold out show at the Allstate Arena. It was a great show, although bands are always better at smaller venues. I probably even got a little workout in with my little bit of dancing around. (And all the extra walking when we couldn’t initially find our seats.) I have one grainy picture of my fantastic day to share:

2014-03-13 22.08.38

Cell phone lights twinkling like the night sky.