Meal Planning 101

When Stephen and I were first married I never meal planned, and I never made grocery lists.  I would walk up and down the aisles of Stop and Shop, pick out what looked good, not look at the price and have no concept about how it would fit into a weekly meal plan.  That didn’t matter though, because at least four nights a week we were ordering in or going out to dinner.  I would end up throwing away most of our groceries and then complain that “eating healthy was so expensive”.

Fast forward 7 1/2 years, I now have meal planning and grocery shopping down to a science.  I may not be able to iron a shirt without burning it, but food in this house is a well oiled machine.

I grocery shop twice a week.  Once on Sundays for a majority of our food for the week and for dinners for Monday through Thursday, and once on Thursdays for perishables and dinner food for Friday thru Sunday.

So today I am planning for my grocery store trip for tomorrow (Sunday), and I wanted to share a little bit about my process.  Keep in mind we are still in Whole 30 mode around here!

I first write out all the days I am planning dinners for and an area for the list at the bottom of the page broken out into different columns for meat, produce, and other.

grocery1.jpg

I then look at my calendar and see what is going on for the week .  If there is a night Stephen is going to be out of the house then it is not the night for a time intensive dinner.  Monday nights I teach yoga, so I normally do a slow cooker meal.  You get the idea.  After a quick look on Pinterest and mentally flipping through my go to regular meals, I usually jot down the dinners I want to make for the week.

grovery2.jpg

I then start to fill in the columns with the ingredients needed.

grocery 3.jpg

After this list is done I look through the pantry for other items we need to restock.  Things like brown rice, cereal, olive oil, coconut oil, coffee, larabars, etc. and add them to the list.

When it comes to breakfast, lunches, and snacks, we tend to eat the same things most weeks.  Eggs and greens for breakfast for me, eggs with brown rice for Stephen.  For lunch, I tend to eat left overs, a big salad, or make a quick batch of chicken salad with homemade mayo , while Stephen shops separately and keeps things like frozen vegetables and pre-cooked chicken at his office.  My snacks are almost always Shakeology with homemade almond milk (almonds are on the list EVERY WEEK!) and cashews, fruit, or Whole 30 compliant larabars.

These days, for dinner, we barely order from anywhere or eat out unless it is a special treat.  The more we learn about food, the more we want to cook our own at home.  Plus, due to Stephen’s celiac disease, we are an almost completely gluten free house now, which makes eating out and ordering from anywhere incredibly hard.  By only buying what we need and planning down to the last detail, we have very little waste.  It has saved us a ton of money and makes me feel much better about what we are putting into our bodies!

So there you have it, my well oiled, tested, tried and true meal planning method !

How do you plan meals for the week?  

Do you wing it or are you a big planner like me?

Homemade Almond Milk

While completing my first round of Whole 30 I started making many of the condiments in my house.  This program forced me to look at the ingredients of my food with a much higher level of scrutiny than ever before.  I discovered that sugar was in EVERYTHING!

One thing I used to drink all the time was store bought almond milk.  While it is dairy free, and you can buy sugar free options, all store bought almond milk contains carrageenan .  Carrageenan is a seaweed extract that is used to thicken foods and drinks like almond milk, and it hides in many of your organic foods.  Although it has been ruled safe by many regulatory agencies, carrageenan has been linked to GI disorders and has been found to cause inflammation of the digestive system.

When I started reading about this additive, I decided it was time to stop buying these products.  I found an amazing recipe for homemade almond milk over at Stupid Easy Paleo and have been making it ever since!

Homemade Almond Milk

Ingredients:

1 cup organic and raw almonds

4 cups water

1 pitted date for sweetness (optional)

1.Soak the almonds overnight in a bowl of water in the refrigerator (make sure they soak for anywhere form 8-48 hours).  I also soak the date along with them.

almondmilk1

2.Drain the water you soaked the almonds and date in and place them in a high powered blender

For every 1 cup of almonds, cover them in 4 cups of water.

3.BLEND!!!  Hopefully you have a helper like me to push those buttons for you!

almondmilk2

4.Once the almonds and date are blended place a colander in a large bowl and line the colander with several layers of cheese cloth.

almondmilk3

5.Slowly pour the blended mixture over the cheese cloth

almondmilk4

6.Once the blender is empty SQUEEZE the cheese cloth to get the remaining moisture out of the almond pulp

This made 2 mason jars of almond milk

almondmilk5

Place it in your refrigerator and enjoy within 3-5 days!

I use this in my coffee and for my daily Shakeology!

Whole 30 – Round 2

Yesterday started my second round of the Whole 30 program!  I am so excited to begin this again . After my first round I felt such an amazing difference, and even though I stuck to that style of eating for the most part even after the program, Christmas really derailed me.

My original intention was to start another round of Whole 30 in January, but pushed up that time line after I spent a week drinking red wine, eating cookies, and well , drinking more red wine.

I enjoyed every second, but its time to get back in the game.

whole-30-cheat-sheet

This time around I am changing only one thing.  My morning snack will be homemade almond milk and a scoop of vegan chocolate Shakeology.

Strictly speaking, powders such as Shakeology are not permitted on Whole 30.  This is because when you drink your food the hormone leptin does not respond in the same way, and you may not know when you are full.  However, this was one of the biggest aspects I learned during my first round of Whole 30, so I am confident that adding Shakeology as a snack with homemade almond milk will not disrupt my leptin response.

Also, I firmly believe that Shakeology is an amazing product.  This is not simply a protein powder, and is more of a protein and vitamin supplement with amazing pro and pre biotics.  I never felt Shakeology was an appropriate meal replacement as it is marketed, however, as a snack is it perfect for me.

Here is my plan for the week:

whole30plan

I find the best success when I plan a set breakfast, lunch, and snacks for the week and then mix up the dinners.  I will also do a separate post later this week on how to make homemade almond milk!  Spoiler: ITS RIDICULOUSLY EASY!

Here is the plan for dinners, along with links to recipes below:

whole30plan2

Beef Stew from One Lovely Life

Italian Chicken from Stupid Easy Paleo

I also roast broccoli and red potatoes with olive oil and garlic.

Cauliflower Soup from Simone’s Kitchen

(I skip the bacon because I have yet to find bacon without any added sugar)

For the Roasted Salmon and Brussel Sprouts I simply buy shredded sprouts and add them to a casserole dish along with olive oil and top it with a 6oz salmon filet.  Roast at 375* for 25-30 minutes and you have an easy and healthy dinner!

So there you have it!  The whole first week of Whole 30, planned, prepped, and ready to go!  Please email me with any questions , especially if you are starting your own Whole 30 journey!