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Healthy Cooking Challenge Team

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I have been an on-again, off-again, Spark member since 2009. Recently, I have picked up interest in continuing working towards my weight goal and leading a healthier life-style. As part of this renewed interest, I’ve become a more active Spark member.

I have read The Spark and have joined a number of community teams. I am a lover of internet games and have, to my delight, discovered an addiction to Spark points and trophies. I try to log on to the site daily and gather as many points as I can. Not long ago, one of my team leader’s mentioned a community team that they had joined. It was called the Healthy Cooking Challenge.

My interest was piqued and I decided to join the team to see what it was all about. To my delight I discovered that this team was all about goal setting and that if you were successful, at the end of four weeks, you were rewarded with a trophy. Now I had been accumulating trophies – some for perfect attendance, some for collecting points during the month, reaching exercise goals etc. But I did not know that some of the official teams were also handing out awards. I decided to give it a try.

The first challenge I tackled was to create a menu for the upcoming week. I could relate to this, as it reminded me of a cooking show I used to watch with Sandi Richards' Fixin' Dinner.

I have to admit that the blank menu template that sat in front of me was quite intimidating and, of all the challenges, was the most difficult one for me to complete. I worked on it for an hour or so and finally came up with a game plan for the week. Breakfasts and lunches were easy for me, as my husband and I always eat breakfast at home and lunches are prepared and brought with us to our place of work. It was the evening meals that had me stumped. We quite often would eat out once or twice a week, usually fast food. As part of my own personal challenge with the Healthy Cooking Challenge, I dared myself to eliminate the eating out and to prepare home-cooked meals with lowered sodium and fat content.

Once the menu plan was created, a trip to the grocery store was in order and then the game was on.

Menu planning became part of my next four weeks and by the third week, I even had my husband interested in what meals were planned and he was giving me suggestions! I did find that I wasn’t always able to stick exactly to the weekly plan. Some nights I interchanged with another night on the menu, but overall I got pretty good at following the plan.

I continued through the next four weeks completing the different challenges as they came up. Some of the suggestions that were given I liked, some not so much. But in the end, the weekly menu planning became my favourite – which was really weird, because of all the challenges it was the one I had initially found so difficult. And at the end of the four week’s I received my coveted trophy.

When I first joined the team, the trophy was my end goal and I believed that it was the most important thing I would get from joining. How wrong I was! Its been a few weeks since the challenge was completed. Needless to say, I went back to my old habits, which I didn't think were that bad. I usually decided before leaving for work what was for supper. But all of a sudden I was starting to find that figuring out what the evening meal was going to be was becoming a chore. My husband noticed that our menus were not as creative as before and it seemed easier and easier to decide in the morning that maybe tonight would be a good night to eat out. So, I’m going to go back to the menu planning. It definitely works for me.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I'm just finishing the second week of that challenge, and am really enjoying it. I'm gearing up to return to work after having been off for 1.5 years, and one of my challenges will be to continue with home cooked suppers rather than picking something up as we return home from work. This challenge is helping me find some easy things to do for breakfast that my DH will eat (breakfast is a new thing for him!). For lunches and suppers I'll be relying a lot on planned leftovers and batch cooking and freezing.
    2899 days ago
    I enjoy doing the menu planning, but I understand finding it difficult to follow it perfectly. For the most part, I can do it, but every now and then something springs up - a social outting, or just a want to eat something else.

    I think swapping meals from one day to another is perfectly fine - it's the eating out that should be cut back on! I've eaten out three times in the past three weeks, but in my own defense, I was invited out all three times.

    I think the meal planning is the best part of this challenge, and it's a great one to keep up with! Not only does it help you from thinking up meals the day before or the morning of, it also helps you save on groceries, because you know exactly which foods you plan on eating during the week!!

    2900 days ago
    I can totally understand the addiction to points and trophies. I have recently joined and I find the accomplishments fun.

    I too have previously struggled with meal planning. I would go to the grocery store and wonder aimlessly to decide what I wanted to have for dinner.

    Now, I am an avid planner. I love thinking of what to cook and finding new recipes to try. I always go to the store with a list and I usually stick to it.

    I find the most beneficial tool in this change was a book I purchased called "What's for Dinner?" It has weeks of meal planning at my fingertips with healthy desserts and Great Recipes. I just Love it.

    Meal Planning is worth it!
    2900 days ago
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