The truth is I'm always excited when I make these podcasts. I know that talking about "structure" probably sounds really boring, but it's actually so interesting to break it down and actually understand what it's doing in our lives - whether we look at it or not!
I'm not the kind of person who wants any more commitment in my life... between getting married and then having kids, my commitment allotment is ALL used up. I can't even pick a meal plan to commit to!! LOL
If you want to understand the basic premise behind:
Then listen up to this episode! Because there are some basic rules you need to understand as to how and why these work (or don't work).
All structure needs to be found in balance with flexibility. This is the secret to success!
So grad your headphones, slip on your tennis shoes and join me in my magical place for a stroll in the woods, to learn and open up and have fun together!!
This is something I've spent a lot of time thinking about because I want to know how to refer to my clients in a way that actually makes sense for them - here are my thoughts on all the approaches I've tried (and the one I created!) I hope it's helpful!!!
I use emeals. They give a two week free trial. I think it was $59 per year for a dinner plan (you can add on breakfast, lunch, special occasion, etc), and lots to choose from (kid friendly, vegetarian, paleo, etc). The recipes are all pretty quick.
It is somewhat seasonal (lots of squash and pomegranates on menus lately - yum!)
I love that I don't have to think with this one!
I choose the recipes I want to use as I enter the store and it makes my grocery list, with pantry staples separated out for easy shopping. The only down side is the app takes a few minutes to open - it always wants to refresh. Sometimes it fails to open at all, and then you are stuck winging it (see MY meal planning program below to get you through those days).
Also the web version is not interactive, you have to get the grocery list for all 7 recipes for the week - so just use the app.
I also noticed it saves me money at the grocery store (which is a claim they make as well)... as long as I don't just start throwing random things in (which I still sometimes do).
PLAN TO EAT
I've used Plan to Eat, but it requires a bit of computer time to devote to it. People who avidly use Pinterest seem to have great luck with it - they just move from Pinterest to Plan to Eat and pop them in the calendar.
You are completely in control of all the recipes each week. The service combines them into an easy to use format to schedule on your calendar and then compiles a grocery list for the days you select, which is mostly cohesive to put onions with onions, etc, but sometimes onions will appear more than once - not a huge deal, just a bug of the system to be aware of.
But if you don't want to go around pinning recipes, then this is NOT the plan for you. It takes time, time that I was never able to get into my routine.
It is only $40/year; they also give a 30 day free trial.
There is also my fellow Boss Mom, Sam Rodgers' Eating Clean Cooking Dirty!!!
I've used her plan before - it is all clean eating, with several options to choose from. It is based on the premise of one prep day that is longer than other days, then everything is basically ready to go when you want to eat it.
She integrates all the recipes into one set of instructions. She is seriously amazing at this!!!! It is like following ONE recipe, but at the end you are set for the week! She is as crazy about making yummy and easy to follow meal plans as I am about assimilating every self help book I've ever read into my coaching programs!
This is great if you want to streamline your time in the kitchen - it's not as good if you like to improvise while you cook. i.e. If you can't or don't like to follow recipes strictly, this is probably not the plan for you; messing with one recipe is ok, but messing with 5+ at once may not be a good idea.
She gives a free week to try, and then her monthly cost is fantastic for the quality of her product.
Finally I also have a meal planning book, but mine is actually ALL about how to have a plan...and how to improvise when you need to!!! Because I'm a master at improvising in the kitchen :) ...
But you still need a plan.
You can get a free week of sample meal plans and also an introduction to my approach (basically break it down into simple steps and commit to them one at a time.)
My approach works in conjunction with other meal planning tools! I use emeals AND I improvise :) Haha
The secret to simple healthy food is this: grains and veggies.
I explained a bit about grains one week ago. Today, let's chat vegetables.
If you really don't know how to make sure you make this happen, then grab yourself a coffee chat with me so we can chat and I can tell you about the ways I can help you commit to it. I have SEVERAL ways! I can teach you to Eat Twice as Healthy in Half the Time. I can schedule you a Pantry Makeover. I can help you go deep in Love Every Bite.
Let me share with you how I tout the advantages of vegetables in my forth coming book:
Adding a salad or steamed vegetables to a meal is quick and easy way to round the meal out. Cooking soup is an easy way to create a meal featuring the bounty of the farmer’s market. Vegetables should be plenty and abundant in your diet. They are filling and delicious; they are high in fiber and low in fat; most are low in sugar; they are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
They really add so much to a diet and you can eat so much without ever worrying about whether or not they are healthy. Vegetables are the one part of any diet that you never have to measure, weigh, or be concerned about over eating.
And I didn't even go into the health benefits! Vegetables are the staple of most healthy "diets." Anytime or place in the history of the world, they ate vegetables. Except, of course, for modern day industrialized nations. Like ours. Where we suffer from a disastrous array of preventable health ailments... Ahem. Alright, so how can eat more of them??? Just like grains. We have to commit. We have to change our mindset from "it's too hard" to "hell yeah I wanna live forever!"
(You know, not really. But I do wanna feel great and look my best and be as healthy as I can as long as I can!!! And veggies help with all of that!!!)
Okay, Alegra. HOW????
Well, if you are familiar with "Eat Twice as Healthy in Half the Time" - the first step is chop veggies. It's really three steps: Buy them and chop them and use them. Still. I know you can do that.
So go ahead and hop back on Pinterest and find one recipe with veggies. Easy! And then chop TWICE as many veggies as what it calls for, and use up the leftovers in an other meal the next day!! You've just doubled your veggies consumption.
I love to collect fun little treats for the boys' easter baskets, some wind up animals, pinwheels, always books (yes we are nerds), and a few little treats. Enough for ONE day.
We also like to have brunch either on our own, or with friends or family.
I love to make Quiche. It is easy, I always have the ingredients, and you can throw anything in.
Buy a pie crust. It's true they are simple to make, but it's much faster to buy one, and you and I are both busy. Just make sure it doesn't have a bunch of weird crap in it. I like to keep Trader Joe's Pie Crusts on hand for quiche or pot pie. (Oh and when I DO make a crust, I double the recipe and freeze one of my own!!!!)
Double the recipe and you will have breakfast or lunch for the week!
Do you do meal planning? Have you tried but found it overwhelming?
I'm so honored to welcome the third in a series of guests posts from the awesome Boss Mom community! Thank you to Amy Napoli for this week's post!
We hear about it on the news, in magazines, and from our doctors. We know we should minimize its impact on ourselves and families.
Our bodies are wired to manage stress. However, we live in an age of where it’s occurring continuously, throughout most of our day. The body is set up to respond with various hormones and physical responses when it feels stress, but it’s unable to discern between stress of work and being chased by a lion. It just knows it’s being stressed.
So. what’s the big deal? How is it effecting our health?
Uncontrolled stress can lead to health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Physically, we can feel symptoms of headaches, fatigue, stomach issues, and change in sex drive, to name a few. Stress can also affect our mood, focus at work, and relationships with other’s.
5 areas to help manage your stress:
Sleep: Lack of sleep or deep sleep affects stress levels and in return, stress can cause insomnia. Implement healthy sleep habits – wake and rise at the same time, minimize exposure to blue light in the evening (turn off those electronics), and limit alcohol and caffeine. Make sleep a priority in your schedule so your body has time to rest and repair.
Nutrition: Improper nutrition can cause us to be foggy headed, irritable and cranky due to sugar spikes and drops, and decrease our immune health. Look to fuel your body well with a balanced diet of whole foods (think lean protein, veggies, and whole grains). Minimize cravings and mood swings by avoiding highly processed, sugar foods. So often, when we are stressed out we will reach for comfort foods or unhealthy options. Ask yourself HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) and be aware of why you are choosing the foods you are picking.
Exercise: Get up and move! Exercise is known to help lower stress levels by producing endorphins in our bodies, promoting better sleep, and stabilizing moods. Pick the exercise you enjoy and schedule it into your daily agenda. Take mini-breaks throughout the day to walk around the block or stretch.
Prep & Plan: Help control daily stressors by having a plan for the day. Some of the biggest added layers of stress come from our hectic daily schedules and meal times. Once a week sit down and look at where everyone in your house needs to be. Schedule into the calendar and look for potential pitfalls before they occur. Have a plan to ask for help so you are not double booked and running in two different directions. Plan dinners for the week and take time over the weekend to begin prep to make meal time smoother. Cut veggies and cook meals that are nutritious and can be reheated easily. Always have a plan B! Even the best prepped plans can derail with unexpected changes. It will be so much easier to change focus when you know you have a plan in place.
Self-Care: This is the most overlooked area of managing stress. First, it’s not selfish, it’s essential. We have plans to take care of everyone else, but in the end our own batteries are depleted. Ultimately, we have nothing left to give those who need us most. A day at the spa or a fabulous vacation could be the cure, but not reality for most of us. Try to incorporate daily moments of self-care that are simple and require minimal time. Sit for 5 minutes with your eyes closed and breathe deeply, meditate, or read a book. Small moments will add up to a calmer day.
There will always be stress in our lives, but our ability to handle or minimize it greatly influence its impact on our health. Set yourself up for success and begin to incorporate the above techniques. Habits take time to become part of our routine, so continue to focus on fitting them in daily. You are so worth the effort!
Keep in touch with Amy on Facebook!
I'm excited to start sharing recipes with you that will stand on their own and that can be incorporated into my meal planning program for even more ease and speed.
Here is a super healthy, simple, fast recipe. This is the stand alone version.
However, if you sign up for Meal Planning for Healthy Family Harmony, you will see that this recipe fits perfectly into the "mid week" category, when you have already done the "prep heavy" meal earlier in the week. AND you will continue to get simple, fast, healthy recipes sent to you directly.
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If you have peanut sauce on hand (which keeps for weeks in the fridge if you use only shelf stable ingredients), and if you've made the grains earlier in the week (step one of Beyond Meal Planning), and if you've already chopped veggies (step two of beyond meal planning)...
Well imagine how quickly this super healthy meal would come together!!
Peanut Sauce Delight
Peanut sauce is a staple in my kitchen. It is great for a quick, easy, healthy meal. You just whip up the peanut sauce (if you didn’t already have it on hand), steam some vegetables and roast some tofu/chicken/meat if you like, then cook some rice or other grain (quinoa is a favorite because of it’s high protein and minerals) - or maybe you committed to the first step of "Meal Planning Beyond Meal Planning" - COOK GRAINS - so you already have that ready to go, too.
Serve it all with a bowl of peanut sauce and it’s a solid meal, ready in 15 minutes (or less!).
Basic Peanut Sauce
Other optional ingredients include:
First put the brown rice or quinoa on to cook (20-45 minutes).
Then, whip together the peanut sauce using a whisk or fork (5 minutes).
Then steam veggies, such as: carrots, snap peas, green beans, bell peppers, broccoli, etc. (5-10 minutes). You can serve some raw as well for the finicky little fingers.
When grains are done, serve veggies on a platter, peanut sauce in a bowl, and rice from the pot!
Let me know if you have any questions about my new Meal Planning Beyond Meal Planning. It's a program unlike any others I've ever discovered (and I'm compulsive about my health and food research!).
By integrating prep throughout the week you can have healthy food on hand without spend hours in the kitchen at one time.
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Let me know what you think about this recipe!