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All of your responses are very helpful to me. I started a a weight loss challenge at work last week and at my weigh in this week I had loss a pound. Tracking my food has been an eye opener for me.
My goal this weekend is to shop for foods for dinner. Breakfast and lunch are usually easy, but dinner is always a challenge. I believe if I can plan ahead that will be helpful to me.
Keep the suggestions coming!!!
I agree with Larsil that you should go slowly at first... start by tracking what you already eat for about a week without making huge changes. Changing your whole diet at once doesn't allow you to really see and understand the choices you're making. Look carefully at what the feedback is each day and focus on one meal at a time. Not meeting your protein goal? (that's always my big problem!) Compare good and bad days and see what you did differently so that you know which foods give you what. Make small changes, one at a time.
I also agree that having a plan helps. Eating the same breakfast and snacks each day helps keep me on track even when lunch and dinner vary.
Thanks HOT redpepper, Great suggestions... I will endeavor to adopt a couple of your ideas that I had not seen before.. I think they will work well for me. Thank you once again!!
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When I started out, I used the meal-plan suggestions found on the Nutrition Tracker. This way, I knew what kinds of food, portions, calorie amounts, etc. to use with confidence.
My best advice is to:
READ all nutrition labels- it will open your eyes to what you really eat
MEASURE and/or WEIGH your foods- eyeballing it can cause overeating without trying
PLAN your meals and snacks- use whatever method works for you
TRACK IT all on the Nutrition Tracker- it really is a great tool
MAKE ADJUSTMENTS to your diet as needed to keep a healthy and balanced diet
Look through cookbooks, food magazines and cooking websites for ideas. Talk to people you know are good cooks.
Also, use the public library to check out basic cookbooks to find one you like before investing in one. Some have advice on how to cook different types of meat and vegetables as well as what to look for when you are shopping.
Using salt-free spices is an easy way to change the flavor of your meals.
If you find a recipe that you like but it has an ingredient you don't want (a particular vegetable, type of protein), most of the time you can swap that ingredient for a different vegetable/protein source.
buy a food scale.
i have off on the weekends so that is when i tend to food shop and meal plan. usually before i go to the grocery store i make a list of what meals i want to make for dinner and then i go around that. some days i'll pack leftovers for lunch, other days i'll take soup or salad. if i know i want greek salad i'll make a big one on sunday night and portion it into small containers and take it for lunch 3 days and then bring 2 days of leftovers or soup. i also like to make casseroles that can be portioned out or frozen. i've also make veggie lasagnas in my crockpot or turkey chili. you just find a routine and kind of stick with it. i get really thrown off if i go out to dinner during the week don't have meals planned. i like coming home and knowing this is what i'm having and i can quick throw it together. making quick meals is really helpful after working 8hrs and then going to the gym after work. i just want to cook quickly, eat and relax the rest of the night. thats why if i want to try a new recipe i usually do it on the weekends when i don't mind being in the kitchen long. and stick with meals you love, just make healthier versions, thats what i do. we have naan bread pizzas, greek salads, chicken sausage sandwiches and crab cakes all the time! stick with what you like!
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!
I started menu planning by using Spark menus. If I did not care for a dish or it did not have the right timing for the day I selected another menu from Spark. I think what Spark has helped me with is in learning to eat we rounded meals and started me reading nutrition labels. I have found a number of items in the frozen section such as Parmesean Crusted Tilapia that is easy to cook fairly quick. In addition the vegetable recipes on this site have really changed my attitude toward eating vegetables. I now choose to have a vegetable with almost every meal which was not in my habits prior to this time.
like this idea thanks
thanks you so much this tips helps
Make a list of protein sources you like and will eat, then do the same for vegetables and for fruits. Post them in your kitchen in a place where you can see them easily and plan to choose 2 - 3 or more vegetables each day and 2 or more fruits each day, depending on your eating plan, and availability. After you've planned for these foods, add your protein to each meal. I've found it helpful to plan vegetables first, then add protein rather than the other way around.
If you like to use fresh vegetables, try to get an idea which ones stay good the longest and how to store them. Here's a good SP article:
You can package meat/chicken/fish in single serving portions with marinades and freeze. Pull out in the morning and allow to thaw in the refrigerator during the day. It'll marinate as it thaws.
Batch prep and cook. When you are chopping something, think ahead to what else you will need the same food for later in the week, and chop enough for your week's meals. This will save you time later in the week.
If you can, make larger batches than you need immediately and freeze smaller portions for later.
Cooking a turkey or turkey breast, boning it and freezing it in smaller portions will give you lean protein available fairly quickly and can save money over buying smaller amounts more frequently. If you don't like turkey, do this with a different source of protein that you do like.
Beans (canned and dried) can be a good base for casseroles/soups/stews or just a cheap way to boost the amount of protein in a meal.
Be flexible about the types of food you eat for a meal. Leftovers from lunch or dinner can make a great breakfast.
Your response may have been a little lenghty, but it was totally worth it.... I found it extremely helpful... Thanks for sharing.
Edited by: BARB5970 at: 1/18/2012 (19:57)
Progress, not an Perfection....
i spend 2 days a week cooking in bulk.
Day ONE of COOKING - prepares meals for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
Ex: I may cook chicken (whole chicken, or thighs, or breasts, etc). I have enough for 6 meals (lunch and dinner for 3 days). I couple that with brown rice, and something green or fruit and there are 3 days of meals.
Day TWO of COOKING - prepares meals for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Ex: I may cook turkey meat (this is usually turkey burger, and just browned turkey). This will feed me for 6 meals. I have a turkey burger with tortilla chips and salsa, or spaghetti with tomato sauce (made with herbs and fresh tomatoes).
Breakfast is typically cereal with 1% milk or something fast like grits or oatmeal with fruit. My morning snack is always fruit.
"Though I may stumble, I will not fall, for the Lord upholds me with his hand." Psalm 37:24
That is a good way to keep things interesting. I will start to do that.
I do what I call component cooking. I will brown and rinse two pounds of hamberger and freeze in individual containers. I do the same thing with chicken breasts I cut them up and saute but not cook through. I also prep my veggies for the week on the same day. This way no meal is more than 5 minutes away and I don't over cook because I can't find the right size meat package at the grocery store.
Don't wait for the storm to pass but learn how to dance in the rain..
I have Gmail, so the calendar is free, but you can get anyone online. The easiest way is to use Sparkpeople, because you already use it. You can go to your nutrition page and print out everything you ate last week in grocery list format...really good for a quick shopping list of things you already eat. You can also let Sparkpeople do it for you.
The other way: Print out any free calendar. During the first week, use the calendar to record what you actually eat each day (like a diary)...don't skip this part! At the end of the week, look back and see what you ACTUALLY ate, even if it was take out. For the following week, tweak it, ...if you ate chicken 3x last week, look for healthy chicken recipes to use next week and put them on your planner...if you ate fast food breakfast all last week, for the following week, pick the healthiest items (requires nutrition research on their website) on their menu...the week after that you can tweak even more. BOTTOM LINE: don't make this gung-ho meal plan of food you know/think is healthy but never eat...truth be told, when it comes time to eat it, you probably won't and there goes your time spent planning, because you'll actually want nothing you planned and you won't be happy. Take baby steps...eventually, you'll get to a comfortable place on your own time...don't force it or it won't work.
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Cool. I've just started planning meals in advance. It is awesome!
1. First, I print off those free calendar pages off the internet.
2. Then, I sit down with the family calendar and mark down which nights we'll be gone all day before, and will need crock pot meals, or something with only 5 minutes prep.
3. Next, I go to the cookbook and/or sparkrecipes.com, and make a list of the meals we have most of the ingredients for already.
4. I place the meal choices on the printed calendar, trying NOT to have chicken 3 nights in a row. It's hard to remember to include meals that are mainly veggie meals and/or fish, so planning is good!
5. Go shopping for the ingredients I don't already have. I only shop 1 week in advance, since we tend to cook with lots of produce.
I've never been much of a planner, and meal planning has brought unexpected pleasure to me. It's so nice to know what I'm making for dinner each night. It's so nice to be prepared, and not have so many leftovers in the fridge. Somehow, planning leads to less waste, in my home, too.
A little hard work never hurt anyone. A little pain or hunger never hurt anyone. I am stronger than my desires.
I loved everyones ideas! I do great with breakfast and lunch but dinner is my weak area. Finding something that's healthy and filling is a bit hard for me cause I will have to eat separate from my family.
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
Remember to plan left over nights. If you are like me a lot goes into the fridge everyday. I plan left over nights on the calendar!
What a great thread! Thanks for all the tips.
"Don't let perfection be the enemy of good enough!"
Hello, Im new at this thing. I realy need to lose weight. Thanks for all the great tips.
"YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT:)"
I printed out a calendar (you can print one from Microsoft Word for free) and I post it on my fridge. At the beginning of the week, prior to grocery shopping, I go through my fridge and panty to see what meals I could make. Then I jot them down on the calendar. What I don't have I will buy at the store. I usually stock up on things like chicken broth for soups, turkey/chicken breasts, beans, fruits and veggies, etc. You can also find some delicious recipes on Spark. I have a 10 month old so I don't really have the time to prepare meals so I try to stick with 30 minutes or less or the ones I can prepare the night before.
Whether you think you can or think you can't...YOUR RIGHT!
Hey Armino! Good on you for deciding to get healthy and start making your own meals.
Menu planning and food prep is tough in the beginning. In the beginning, I basically had the same thing for breakfast - yogurt, fruit and a half serve of Kashi cereal. To keep things from getting boring, I buy different yogurt flavors. For lunch and dinner, I'd choose 3 recipes for each meal - with proteins and veg - and then put them on rotation throughout the week. I'd make sure that the proteins were different per recipe and per meal - i.e.
Monday lunch - beef, Monday dinner - chicken
Tuesday lunch - pork, Tuesday dinner - turkey
Wednesday lunch - shrimp, Wednesday dinner - tofu
Thursday would be a repeat of Monday, Friday - a repeat of Tuesday, Saturday - a repeat of Wednesday.
Sundays were free-for-all, whatever's left in the fridge. :)
Portion them up or even pre-cook them over the weekend so over the week, you just toss them in the pan or the microwave.
Also might be a good idea to pick one day to do your groceries and try to make that the same day as portioning or cooking day. Just so you don't have to chop or defrost or do too much prep over the week.
The meal-planner suggestions suck. Go ahead and follow the larger sparkplan, which for the first week is simply setting yourself up to know what you're eating by measuring and tracking. As you go along, you may find that you normally eat something healthy, just not in the right proportion to everything else.
I suggest searching the greater internet for crockpot and freezer-friendly meals. They can be healthied-up and keep you away from the fast food.
Thank you everyone!!
There are some amazing tips in here. All is needed now for me to intigrate everything in a way that will suit my lifestyle :)
Thanks for the tips. Got my list going & finally grocery shopping tomorrow. TG hubby is not a picky eater
Edited by: KELEPULE at: 1/17/2012 (23:42)
"I didn't say it was going to be easy...I only said it'll be worth it."
please please please plan. its whats gonna keep you on track.
Sabaah, you're Egg Muffins sound good! I'm going to have to try those myself!
And some great tips Lori, thank you!
Oh, now I see your original post--I couldn't see it down there when I first replied. Since you're on your own, meal planning is a whole different undertaking.
I would recommend going to the grocery store and getting Woman's World magazine. Yeah, I know you're a guy ;)
They have a weekly "diet" in there that's usually very simple and extremely easy to prepare. The breakfasts are typically something like yogurt and fruit; eggs, high fiber toast, and fruit; oatmeal, fruit and nuts--that sort of thing. For lunch they'll recommend some kind of sandwich, soup, etc, and then they'll give you three suppers--usually a protein, veggie and starch. It's all planned for you, it's very easy to follow, it doesn't require much cooking, and it's *usually* a reasonable plan. Once in a while they'll tout some crazy fast food diet or something, but for the most part, they're very sensible and it's all planned for you.
The one thing from my original post that stands is to do all your grocery shopping at once. If you have the food in your fridge (as long as it fits!) you will not have any reason to stop out for lunches or dinners. Having everything there is the key.
One last tip is to go around to people's spark pages and click on "Shared food and fitness trackers." You can see just what real people eat. Feel free to come on over and take a look at mine--it's public so anyone can see :)
These are some things that have worked for me in planning:
1. Everyone eats the same thing, which is what I eat. It's healthy to eat like I do and it's too darn expensive to try to cater to everyone's tastes. Like it or leave it.
2. Go to Amazon and get yourself a couple of the Weight Watchers Annual Recipes cookbooks. You can grab them for a couple buck apiece. In the back, they have weeks of menus. Pick a week.
3. Make a list of 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 3-5 suppers. Just eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch most days--some people even do one breakfast and one lunch all week, but I like a little variety. I like to cook double batches on the suppers, and eat leftovers because I'm a little lazy like that. But if you don't want to do leftovers, plan more suppers.
4. Go shopping and buy everything you need. One way to guarantee you will deviate from your plan is to not have everything handy.
5. Enjoy coming home at 5:00 and knowing EXACTLY what you'll be eating! I haven't uttered the words, "I have no idea what to have for dinner" in years.
Meal planning has always been a challenge for me, but I found ways to make it easier.
I started with one meal, Breakfast. I never ate it consistently and when I did, it wasn't always the healthiest. I decided to plan a weeks worth of breakfast meals. I don't have a lot of time in the mornings before going to work, so I needed something fast, easy and Healthy.
On Sundays, I make (what I call) Egg Muffins.
3 whole eggs
4 egg whites
1 cup of chopped veggies of choice ( I like broccoli, spinach, onions, etc)
1/2 cup of chopped up lean meat ( turkey or canadian bacon, soy crumbles, etc)
a little pepper
I mix it up, spoon it into a non-stick muffin pan, bake for 10-15 min at 325.
I put them in them fridge and pull one out every morning. Nuke it for 30 sec and make a sandwich using multi grain sandwich thins. That and a piece of fruit, and I'm good to go.
When I started doing this, I was surprised by how easy it was. I thought to myself, " That's one meal down."
Lunches for me are usually leftovers from dinner the night before. I just add a salad and fruit.
Dinner is the only meal I try to really plan now. I only have to cook for two. Thankfully, he is not a fussy eater. We both cook so we sit down and decide who is going to cook what night and what it will be.
For me, the most important part of meal planning is making sure you always have what you need in your fridge, freezer or pantry. Keep it simple and you can't go wrong.
When I want to get fancy or experimental, I save it for Saturdays. Also, on Sundays, I like to make a huge pot of turkey chili or something with whole grain pasta. It takes care of lunch and/or dinner if you choose not to cook the next day.
Just so you know, even with all I've learned about meal planning, I still consider myself a beginner. Everyday, I learn something new.
I feel like just having a plan in place, regardless of the calorie count of the meals, is a good starting point. When I have a plan, I'm less likely to impulse eat. If I have a lunch with me at work, I won't do fast food because I don't need to, I already have something. I know I have a plan for what to make for dinner so I don't snack late in the day or order pizza because I just don't know what else to do for dinner. My advice would be to write out a menu of meals that you like, without worrying about trying all new foods, and just try sticking to your plan, then start to incorporate new and/or healthier versions. Finding success in one small thing will inspire you to keep at it! Good luck!
I like the all the tips. Just me & hubby in the household, but cooking for 2 isn't always easy. Been putting off grocery shopping until finding healthy swaps & meals to try. I have a list started so today I shall try your tips & more. We are not breakfast people, but we're on our way to starting to be...consistent & healthy.
"I didn't say it was going to be easy...I only said it'll be worth it."
These are all great tips. I'm usually cooking for 4 and in most instances I have different breakfast items than the rest of the family. My breakfast is usually eggs, whole grain toast and a fruit or oatmeal with fruit. For lunch I alternate bet. salads, chilis, soups (which I make in abundance and freeze) I make baked ziti for my boys and freeze so they can have a few times per month. I also purchase pre-seasoned individually wrapped fish to cook and eat with grains and veggies or add to salad.
On weekends, I don't usually stick with a plan
"Scrutinizing the success of others is a weakness influenced by lack of confidence, lack of confidence is a weakness influenced by self hate. Love Yourself " - J2
One way that I make meal planning easy for myself is to eat the same thing for breakfast everyday. That's one meal I don't really need to worry about. I usually have leftovers for lunch, so I really only have to cook a couple different dinners. One thing to keep an eye out for is recipes that will freeze well. Since I eat leftovers almost every day, I tend to get bored, so I usually freeze a couple servings of a recipe. Right now in my freezer, I have soup, salsa chicken, and spanakopita hanging out in my freezer, waiting for me to heat up when I didn't feel like eating last week. I also use my local grocery store's circular to plan my meals and try to stock up on good sales.
Planning out meals was extremely challenging for me at the beginning. Especially since my fiance and I are both dieting for our wedding! It was hard not to spend an arm and a leg when we both had different ideas of what to have for breakfast/lunch/dinner that week. What worked best for us was to sit down and create a general meal plan. For example we know that every week (Monday-Friday) for dinner we are going to have chicken 3 nights, beef 1 night and fish/tofu 1 night. So we make sure to get enough protein at the grocery store for that. As for sides we generally make a large amount of brown rice, black/pinto beans, and buy a huge bag of frozen mix veggies. These all can be frozen or they can be stored the entire week in the fridge. For lunch either take left overs or we always have enough turkey breast lunch meat, low fat cheese and whole wheat bread ready for a sandwich as a back up. We also buy the 100 calorie packs (although they tend to be high in sodium and low in nutrients) because sometimes that's better than a bag of chips. For breakfast we decide on a breakfast of the week and we just stick to the same one for 5 days. We tend to alternate between low fat cottage cheese and fruit, protein shake or yogurt and a piece of fruit.
My point is that the easiest thing for us has been to narrow it down to a few breakfasts/lunches/dinners so that it requires less amount of preparing and planning. It may get a little boring, but you can get creative with seasoning and ways to prepare. For example for out chicken nights we alternate between stir-fry and veggies with chicken, grilled chicken with black beans, chicken burgers, creamy Italian chicken and the list goes on and on. It doesn't have to be a grilled chicken breast every night. If you take a couple of hours on the weekend to plan and prepare the rest of the week is so easy.
Oh I forgot on weekends: My fiance loves to grill so we often do that and we have one cheat meal a week. The only thing is that it has to stay withing our calorie ranges no matter what. So if I want Pei Wei and the dish is 1200 calories that is the only thing I can eat that day! I usually divide it into 3 small meals and that has worked thus far. Good luck!!
I've read through the help area.....This is my third try at Sparks....My New Year's Resolution, I picked a smaller amount of weight loss and decided to use the sparks menu, instead of figuring out my own meal plan, which I had done in the past. I printed shopping list and crossed out everything I already had at home. Then I took what was left and switched fruits and veggies into things that I could buy easily (not seasonal) Instead of Peaches I used apples, instead of tangerines I used oranges, etc. I also took leftovers from Dinners made and used them for Lunches next day....I am not a big fan of leftovers, so we will see how I fair. I also switched out meals, some just aren't to my liking. But so far this is working and my calorie count is staying down where it should be for weight loss.
I have never used spark's meal planner, but I do track everything I eat diligently. I started with what I liked to eat, and added it my meal planner. It was very gradual, and slowly I worked myself to a meal plan that I like that is within my calorie range-- but it did NOT happen overnight!
On Sundays, I like to take two to three hours to prep all my meals and snacks for the week. I portion out single servings of pretzels, veggies, 1/2 cups of cottage cheese, etc. I portion out salad dresssings, dips, sour creams, etc.
I eat almost contantly throughout the day. I have a small breakfast, then a morning snack, then lunch, then afternoon snack, then dinner, and sometimes a bedtime snack.
a fresh squeezed fruit/veg juice from my juicer.
one packet of oatmeal and half a graperuit
or any of my snacks or leftovers from night before
any canned soup, as long as the whole can is under 400 calories (I'm not going to eat part of a can, I'm going to eat the whole thing!)
any healthy choice meal
salad with lofat dressing
baked (microwaved) potato with salsa and sourcream
These are really freebies- where I can get what I want. Anything from pasta to pizza to soup to sandwiches. During the week when I get home late, I often do a scrambled egg with veggies and salsa/sourcream combo. Sometimes I do an indy deep dish pizza.
this is really where the money is for me. I snack all the time, and sometimes only snack all day, with no real meals. to count as a snack it has to be under 200 calories. I track everything so that I know I'm doing okay with protein, fat, carbs, nutrients etc.
sliced veggies with hummus
pretzels with queso dip
fiber one 90 calorie bar
packet of oatmeal
slice of sara lee 100% whole wheat delite bread with one tablespoon peanut butter
sliced apple with one ounce of swiss cheese
one chobani yougurt
1/2 cup 1% cottage cheese (sometimes i add berries to it)
1/2 baked potato with salsa
lipton cup o soup
bean thread noodles in broth
frozen veggies with soy sauce
1 c. edamame in pod with soy sauce
3 c. air popped popcorn
1/2 cucumber, 1/2 green pepper, 12 cherry tomatoes and poppyseed dressing
and the list goes on and on
HOWEVER: all of the things listed above are things I like to eat anyways-- I just had to dr them to fit with my diet-- I love toast and peanut butter, but I don't slather on the peanut butter any more on a huge bagel, I use the sara lee bread with a controlled amount of peanut butter. I love popcorn, but instead of microwave hell I air pop it and spray with butter spray (like PAM) and salt. I love yogurt, but I get a particular brand that is higher in protein now, as it helps me to reach my nutrition goals. ALL OF THESE CHANGES WERE DONE GRADUALLY OVER TIME. Don't expect to be a perfect eater in one day, give yourself time to figure out what you like and how to make that work with your daily life!
I know this was a ridiculously long response... sorry about that.
As a starting point, just start logging what you eat now in the tracker and see how it measures up to your calorie and nutritional needs. Then go from there!
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To be happy is to be able to become aware of oneself without fright. ~Walter Benjamin
I looked at the list and the menu from sparkpeople and I just did not like it. And I am told, if you do not like it - you will not stick with it. So, I am doing my own thing, but making sure I stay as close to 1200 calories as I can.
I do instant oatmeal in the morning, with raisins and 1 fl oz of milk in the oatmeal and 2 glasses of water.
For lunch I do a progressive soup, with 1 cup of grapes, and 2 glasses of water.
For dinner during Monday through Thursday, I do chicken breast (frozen from Sam's Club), and a veggie, and another 2 glasses of water
For snack - some more grapes (I love grapes), and my 4th 2 glasses of water.
For weekends, there is a place in Texas only that makes premade (but not frozen) fit foods, and I purchase 3 meals per day from them, so I don't even have to cook during the weekends.
Now, I'm sure as I continue this will change, but for me, it is working, and I have only been dieting for 10 days, so I consider me a beginner also.
Maybe some of what I do may or may not help you, but I'd thought I'd share.
you at a good metabolic age i just buy what i know that is nutriions and eat according to my budget i super eat weight watchers meals and dessert and skinny cow products adding veggies and fruit on a daily basis. my motto is everytime i think i drink. when i eat brkfast i think of my lunch when i eat lunch i think and prepare my snack then so on u can do it i know u can!
These are some things I do to make planning meals more cost and time efficient:
1) Make a big batch of soup (or something else that reheats well) on Sunday and have that for quick lunches or dinners during the week.
2) For evenings that I have more time, I pick a recipe from a cookbook or recipe site and pick up the groceries on my way home from work. I try to avoid getting perishable ingredients further in advance in case I go out for dinner last-minute or something. This is also a good idea if you have limited storage space, since you don't even have to put the groceries away before using them!
3) Any time I have leftover perishable ingredients that need using, I use the "search by ingredient" function on Allrecipes.com (http://allrecipes.com/Search/Ingredients.aspx) to find other recipes with that ingredient. You can also enter in ingredients you don't want.
4) Whenever I find a recipe I like and is quick to make, I either flag it (if it's in a cookbook) or save it as a PDF (if it's online) to a folder named "Approved Recipes". If you do this for a while, you might even be able to group recipes together that contain similar ingredients and then just choose a different group every week.
Hope that helps. Good luck!
The Zone worked well for me for years. You do have to measure your foods in order to get to the "Zone" but on most diets you'll need to count something anyway. A good starter list includes animal protein, lots of vegetables (ingredients for salad esp), a few well chosen fruits, olive oil, condiments, perhaps a few nuts or a jar of nut butter, etc. Grains aren't especially nutritious but you can pick up oatmeal if you want. Learn to make a few simple meals like eggs with a side of vegetables or fruit. Oatmeal with blueberries and nuts. Salad with dressing and some tuna etc. Learn what a portion is what & what a healthy low cal meal looks like- the Zone can really help you a lot with that.
I eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and snacks on weekdays. That makes planning and shopping easy. For my evening meal, I simply choose a protein (chicken, beef, pork, fish) and a veggie (salad, green beans, etc). When I buy meat, I repackage into single servings that I can freeze. It's simple and quick to cook on the grill. Just a little time spent on the weekend preplanning, shopping, and cooking goes a long way. Keep it simple and you'll do fine!!
I am a runner because I run. Not because I run fast. Not because I run far. I am a runner because I say I am. And no one can tell me I'm not. ~ John "The Penguin" Bingham
Start slow. Go easy. Take "baby steps".
Plan one meal at a time for a while -- say, breakfast. After you have a week's worth of breakfast planning done, move on to adding lunch -- do you have lunch at home or at work? Do you take your lunch or eat out? How can you PLAN, and make your choices ahead of time, so that you can support the changes you're making in your healthy life?
If you eat out, what is the menu like at your usual lunch place? Are there "healthy" choices -- for example, if it's a Wendy's, go for a salad choice (with protein!) instead of the Whopper and fries. (Easy on the salad dressing.) If it's a Long John Silver's, don't do hush puppies and fries -- but get the UNBATTERED fish. Think ahead -- and make a good choice before you walk in the door. If you take your lunch, you can plan ahead and make good choices at home before you leave for work.
After a week's worth of planning lunches, and feeling the success behind that, now you're ready for planning suppers -- probably the main meal of the day for most Americans. Use the tips you're learning on SparkPeople websites to plan and prepare your meal. Do you have a crock pot? You can start your supper before you leave for work, and it'll be done when you get home. Just watch portion sizes. Have salads before you eat your main course; make dinner a special occasion, not just grazing while watching TV. Enjoy a soup before the salad; that will fill you up quicker with minimal calories, depending on the type of soup you enjoy. Soup - salad - main entree - already you've got a three-course dinner, and it's fairly easy! Light a candle, make it an occasion, and celebrate the good life! (You can serve flavored seltzer water instead of wine with dinner, and enjoy the "bubbly" without the calories of alcohol!)
Use your imagination. In Europe, at the end of the meal, they serve a "cheese course". OK, why not a "yogurt course" instead? Or even a "tofu course", if you like Asian foods? Remember, ONE COOKIE = ONE SERVING. If you serve it on a fancy napkin or a doily, it's still a fancy dessert.
Have fun -- see your menu planning as a prolonged vacation, something to enjoy!
"My Shepherd will supply my need."
Living Above the Influence
De Colores, Good Buddy!
I would recommend thinking of one or two really healthy vegetables, beans, grains, or other ingredient you really want for the week. Go to Sparkrecipes and do an advanced search for high-rated recipes with those ingredients that take less than 30 minutes. Make 2-3 dishes (maybe on a Sunday, or when you have time) and just reheat through the week.
For example, I love eggplant but I have trouble eating a whole one when I'm just cooking for me. So I'll buy one big eggplant and a few tomatoes, put together eggplant parmesan (takes longer than 30 minutes, but totally worth it!), an eggplant tagine with tomatoes, and a mini lasagna in a bread loaf pan -- uses just a few ingredients, you get three great dishes, and a week's worth of food! And if you're putting everything together at the same time, it ends up being an hour or so a week, once you're done cooking you just have to reheat when you're hungry!
Lafayette, IN ~ EDT
Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.
One thing that really helped me in the beginning, and a trick I still use, is to eat basically the same breakfast, lunch and snacks every day. I eat a high fiber cereal with skim milk then add a small amount of walnuts for good protein and fats and craisins for sweetness. I eat lettuce wraps for lunch with lean turkey breast and a low fat cheese stick then add a high fiber cracker for a crunch. For snacks I eat fat free fruit flavored yogurt, fresh fruit and crunchy raw vegetables, etc.
If you crave more variety in your diet, put together two or three options for each meal and cycle through them during the week.
For dinner I have taken my favorite meals and revamped them to include higher fiber, lower calorie options. Hamburgers are a perfect example. Instead of ground beef try veggie burgers or lean turkey breast patties. Select a whole grain bun or use Orowheat sandwich thins (I ove these!). Use mustard instead of mayo and pile on the baby spinach and add a little avocado spread (another good fat if used in moderation). Replace high fat chips with baked options (just watch your serving sizes).
Once you get into the habit of tracking your meals it becomes second nature.
Good luck, I am glad you are here on SP and are determined to do something to improve your health! Keep in touch on the site and ask lots of questions. Everyone here is eager to help!!
Edited by: JENNYR0506 at: 1/17/2012 (10:34)
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient : all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
The planning and tracking will become easier the more you do it. You're starting from scratch, before it becomes easy, or quick, you have to build your tools to make it easy, and quick.
They're called groupings. :) Bunching things you commonly eat together so as they can be added with one click.
But to get there you'll just have to bite the bullet and sit down and do it.
As for spending 2 hours cooking every day. Do a search over on recipes.sparkpeople.com plenty of easy to cook meals that takes less than 30 minutes. - And they all have a one click add to tracker button.
I am a 24 ears old male measuring 185 cm and 100 kgs. As you may see i am overweight!.
Recently I decided to lose 15 kg by May; however, the more I research about it, the more I feel that I will not be able to carry on. What I really find difficult is the food planning for every day of the week.
I checked the meal planner on the sparpeople website, but it provided me with a grocery list that will not even fit in my fridge! nevermind that I dont even have the time to cook 75% of the meals.
What I really need is a simple yet productive way of planning and preparing my daily meals without the need of spending 2 hours a day and a fortune just for preparing them.
Any advice will be appreciaited!