I get a lot of questions about food. The majority are about “what about when you go out? What about lunches?” So I decided to do a blog post about my personal planning. While your mileage may vary, I’m hoping that some of what I do will help you in your own weight loss journey.
By day, I work in an Engineering environment. We plan our work and work our plan. (Well, that’s what we are “supposed” to do, right? Anyone who knows Engineers knows that this can be nebulous.) Nonetheless, I apply this to my eating as well.
To track our needed groceries, we use an application called Our Groceries. It is on both iPhone and Android. It allows you to have multiple lists, for different kinds of stores, and we use it for everything. We have a list for the “regular” grocery store, as well as a list for Whole Foods, and another local market called New Leaf. The list is kept up to date by all members of the family, all the time. If you use the last of something, you’re responsible for either adding to the list or telling my husband, the List Master about using the last of it.
By Friday afternoon, I try to decide what I want to eat next week, and adding to our weekly grocery list, as we usually shop either on Saturday or Sunday. I know what I need and I know what I have. If I’m unsure, I check. I personally don’t write anything down as far as what I’m going to make, because usually I make a lot of something and just eat it every day, but you could also do that.
For me, Sunday afternoon is the perfect time for food prep for the week. I’m relaxed, I have some time, and I spend a bit of time cooking some of the things I know I’ll need. Typically, this includes a large batch of quinoa. I’ve been making 1 cup dry, but this week, I realized I need a bit more, so I’m going to up it to 1.5 cups of dry. Once it’s done and cooled, I usually put it into one large container. I may also chop and roast a big batch of mixed veggies. If I want some special veggie burgers, now is the time that those get made. I then wrap each one individually and place them into a large freezer bag and freeze them. I find that they thaw mostly by lunch if taken out at 6 in the morning. At this point, I have a skeleton of food for the week, at least for lunch. I’m pretty much set. For my evening meals, I fix those each day without much issue.
Weekday Breakfasts and Lunches
Each evening, as I’m making my dinner, I make my breakfast for the next day and I make my lunch. My lunch is usually a quinoa bowl. I take a container and put in 1 cup of cooked quinoa, various frozen vegetables, adding to about 2 cups, and a sprinkling of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. I pop it into the fridge in one particular spot and that saves me 5 minutes in the morning. For breakfast, I have to admit, I have an addiction. Power pudding. I just LOVE it. It gives me energy that lasts from 6 am to 12! SO awesome. I make it by adding 1 T. chia seeds, 1 T. hemp hearts, 1/3 cup raw whole organic oats, 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk, and 1 scoop of a protein powder. In addition, sometimes I’ll add organic butterscotch flavoring (Frontier makes it), or I might add a spoonful of decaf coffee (one of my favorites!). I mix this all together, and put it in the fridge for the next morning.
I don’t know about you, but it used to be that eating out was really difficult. Since going plant-based, it’s actually quite a bit easier, I’m not sure why, but anyhow, these planning steps help no matter what you eat!
First of all, if I know ahead of time, like when we have lunches at work, that I’m going to a particular restaurant, I look at the menu and I find things that fit in with my food plans, and my food lifestyle. I go in “armed”. I know what I can have, and I stick to it. For me, taking the guessing out of going out saves me from sitting there agonizing and trying to decide if I’m going to stick to my plan or “bend the rules” to fit what will almost fit. Yea, that’s a slippery slope, right?
If I don’t know ahead of time, and can’t look at the menu, I look first to see if they offer gluten free choices. If yes, then I look at those and find one that fits my needs. If they don’t have anything that fits my needs, or if I don’t like the looks of things, then I go back to the salads, and I find a main course salad that works. (I’ve been known to go to our local sandwich shop, Togo’s, and order an Asian Chicken Salad with no chicken! They look at me oddly, but in reality it’s a pretty good salad. I also don’t use their dressing the majority of the time, because while the salad has 180 calories, the dressing has 380!!!) This pretty much works everywhere.
If the menu looks completely off the wall, like a Chinese restaurant, Thai restaurant or some such, because of sauces and stuff, I just take the hit, order something vegetarian, enjoy the meal, and then adjust calories for the remainder of the day to account for it.
Oh, one more thing, about bread. Restaurants almost always slap a basket of bread and butter on the table. My husband knows that the minute it’s there, I’m moving it. I move it to an area where it isn’t right in my face. I don’t eat that stuff, so why put it where it is tempting me. I also always order water to drink and ask for lemon in it.
In my opinion, life is all about choices. I am constantly making choices about my health and well being. With regard to food. I do the very best I can to make nutrient dense food choices that fit within my caloric parameters (yes, I'm a rabid food diary fan, myfitnesspal 1RadChick is me).