1. Plan Ahead
I find nothing is more frustrating than being hungry for a particular meal or snack and opening the refrigerator to find that I don’t have the ingredients to make it. What I have found is that eating healthy and eating well takes some planning. If you plan your meals in advance, you know what you need to buy from the grocery (which can reduce overspending on what you don’t need) and you don’t have to think about what to prepare for the day. Breakfasts and snacks are typically the most neglected meals, so a little bit of thought and creativity here can go a long way.
Even beyond using the meal planner, think about other things that may affect your daily meal preparation. Particularly, think about things that will reduce the amount of time that you will have to devote to preparing a healthy meal. Do you have a meeting that you need to attend that night? Do your kids have an extracurricular activity that they need to go to or that you need to attend? Are you more tired on a particular day due to certain obligations and find that preparing meals on those days is too taxing? Try to think about barriers to your success and what you can do to now to stay the course and accomplish your health goals. Feel free to share your ideas with others in the community forums in the online portal.
2. Make Use of Your Resources
We want to see you achieve success with this program. That’s why we’ve provided you with so many resources! We’ve given you 2 amazing nutrition plans that you can implement at your own pace. They are a great place to start if you need basic information on what to eat. We’ve also provided you with over 100 recipes and 4 weeks of meal planners to show you practical ways that you can eat following each of the plans. Finally, we’ve given you shopping cards for every recipe in the program so that you don’t have to make your own list when you’re heading to the grocery store. These resources are designed to make your transition into healthy lifestyling as smooth as possible.
3. Start With What You Know and Love
You may have already tried several of the recipes that we have provided. And if you’ve found some that you really love then that’s all the better! Start with those recipes first as you’re planning. You should also think of creative ways to make some of you or your family’s favorite conventional meals healthy. For example, if your kids love spaghetti and meatballs keep making it! Just use brown rice spaghetti and organic grass-fed beef. There are so many healthy food options out there. Our shopping guide (page 20) provides a good place to start for the basics.
4. Use Leftovers
Cooking and preparing healthy foods yourself comes with the territory when you want to make healthy lifestyle changes. When you prepare your own food, you know that the ingredients are
fresh, the food isn’t processed and you can add your own special touch. Food that you prepare yourself is almost always healthier than what you can buy in a store or restaurant.
I love cooking, but I also have a busy life and don’t necessarily have time to cook a meal from scratch every night. Sometimes it just isn’t’ practical. Making enough for the next day’s lunch (or even dinner!) can save loads of time. Freezing large quantities of food (and you can freeze almost anything) can also help significantly as well. I usually do this with things that take a lot of prep work. For example, when I prepare chickpeas for hummus (or any kind of bean) I soak them overnight because it makes the beans easier to digest and it takes less time to cook. Then, the cooking time is about 45 minutes to an hour. Well, that’s a long process! Instead of doing that for small batches of beans, I cook a very large batch of beans and freeze them. Then, when I’m ready to have beans again, all I have to do is reheat as opposed to the laborious process of making them from scratch all over again. The more foods you can prepare ahead of time, the easier the transition will be.
One of the best things that you can do for yourself is to always keep an open mind. This will not only serve you well in life, but it will also serve you well in your journey toward your health goals. If you’re somewhat of a picky eater, like me it may be a bit of a stretch to think about trying some of the recipes each week—especially if you are new to a healthy lifestyle. I encourage you to try some of the foods that may be out of your comfort zone. You may be pleasantly surprised. Also, feel free to experiment with foods and create your own dishes!
6. Invest in a Good Tool Belt
Your tool belt is the compilation of kitchen appliances and gadgets that you have to assist you in cooking and prep work. Nothing makes the thought of cooking more unappealing than spending hours upon hours in the kitchen. Thankfully, there are many kitchen supplies out there to help you make the kitchen experience all the merrier. Check out my list below for information on the top kitchen supplies that I wouldn’t go without.
- Vitamix Blender
This is hands down the BEST blender on the market. The engine is powerful and you can crush and blend whole foods inside of this product with no problem. I use it most often for making shakes, but I’ve also used it to make salsas and guacamole and I’ve used to blend and puree soups. This is one of my favorite kitchen tools.
- Food Processor
In my opinion, a food processor is a must for anyone that’s going to spend a decent amount of time in the kitchen. Dicing vegetables and fruits is probably one of the most time-consuming aspects of cooking prep work. Food processors remove this burden. All you really need to do is chop the food into chunks and throw them in the processor and it does all the hard work for you. Because we eat lots of veggies, food processors are essential for cutting down on prep time.
- Set of Sharp Knives
It’s not only dangerous, but it’s time-consuming to have to use dull, worn-out knives when you’re preparing food. Typically, I use knives to cut through fish or chicken as I’m preparing a meal and a dull knife is a real pain. Investing in a nice set of sharp knives saves time and frustration. I definitely recommend it.
I love to cook, but cooking over high heat for long periods of time can denature the good nutrients found in most vegetables and fruits. This is why we typically cook over low to medium heat. Dehydrators provide a way to enjoy veggies and fruits that is different from traditional cooking. Basically, a dehydrator removes the moisture from the food. It completely preserves the nutrients (it’s just like eating the food raw) and for many people dehydrated vegetables are more palatable. Homemade chips from zucchini, sweet potato and kale are longtime favorites. You can also make homemade crackers using a dehydrator as well.
- Stainless Steel Cookware
Most people don’t realize that most non-stick coating on pots and pans off-gases, leaching chemicals into your food once the pan gets hot. For this reason, we use stainless steel cookware or safe, non-stick pans that do not off-gas.
- Crock Pot
If you want to have a delicious and healthy meal ready in a few hours without giving it much thought, a crock pot or slow cooker is the way to go. Crock pots and slow cookers enhance flavors and the taste is, quite frankly, amazing! You can also make a lot of food in one preparation. Typically, a slow cooker can be left unattended with no problems, but you should verify this by reading the user manual on your particular product.