You’ve read my post from last week and I’ve convinced you to finally ditch your diet! You decided to throw the newest fad diet out the window and vow to never fall for one again. Yay! You’re ready to try this “real food” thing! Ok, ready, set, go! Oh wait, so what do you do now? How do you plan what to eat each day? Please don’t whine out loud, “This is too hard!” No whining allowed! Luckily you have me to help you with this!
I’m not a gourmet cook nor do I have a ton of time to spend in the kitchen. So for the most part, I keep it really simple. My husband and I eat a lot of grilled meat and roasted vegetables. Keep in mind, we only have two in our little household as we don’t count the cats, so make sure to scale up your ingredients for larger households.
For meal planning I love to use the Whole30 Meal Planning Template from Dallas & Melissa Hartwig of Whole9 and Whole30 fame. This outlines how a plate should look. A palm size portion of protein, a thumb size portion of fat and the rest of your plate filled with vegetables. Pretty easy right?
I always plan my meals around the protein. I have two freezers in the garage, so I go “shopping” for meat that sounds good to me. I pull out 3 items to defrost at a time. If I am out of meat, I plan our meals around the sale flyer at Whole Foods. I look up the sales flyer on my computer and figure out what fits in my budget. Ground beef and bone-in chicken thighs are always on the list.
First, I head to the farmer’s market. I pick out enough fresh organic seasonal vegetables to make a large batch of at least 7 different vegetables and a nice large mixed salad. I also pick up eggs, raw sauerkraut and any other staples like bacon, garlic and avocados. Whatever I can’t find at the farmer’s market, I pickup at Whole Foods on the way home along with the items on my meat shopping list.
After arriving home, I make my meal plan which always starts with dinner. I plan a protein each night along with one vegetable. Without fail I make much more than we can eat each night so that there will be quite a bit leftover. For example, two pounds of ground beef makes six burgers. We can only eat 3 burgers at the most and will usually have 3 leftover. I never make less than 8 chicken thighs. Roasted chicken thighs never last long at the McCauley house! When roasting vegetables, I always roast a large baking sheet full or if sautéing, I use my large sauté pan. Usually, half of the meal is used as leftovers for the next day. I pair the meat and vegetable with a nice side salad and voilà, dinner is served!
Now this process makes lunch easy! Each night after putting the leftovers away in the refrigerator, I add them to a list I keep taped to the front along with the date. This way we know what’s in the fridge and we make sure to eat the older items first. Like a FIFO (first in, first out) inventory system for my fridge. Like I say, once an accountant always an accountant! Lunches always look a lot like dinner the night before.
Now for the ever popular breakfast. This varies from day to day. First of all, I’m going to shock some by say something that goes against what many people hold as true. I don’t eat breakfast if I’m not hungry! Yes, you heard me right, I skip “the most important meal of the day.” You know why? Because it isn’t! Yes, some people should eat breakfast but it really varies on a case by case basis.
But if you regularly skip breakfast only to binge later in the day or if you normally eat a very grain, starch, and sugar rich standard American breakfast (think juice, cereal with milk and toast), breakfast is a must. Most people like eggs for breakfast. I usually pair 3 eggs cooked in bacon fat with a half an avocado, some raw sauerkraut and leftover vegetables. But you don’t have to eat eggs every morning. I swap out the eggs for a couple of home made sausages or even leftovers from the night before. I change it up regularly because I get bored of eating the same thing every day. My husband, on the other hand, can eat the same foods day in and day out without getting bored. Do what feels right for you!
But what about snacks you may now ask? I’m not a snacker and I don’t counsel my clients to snack.This breaks from nutritional conventional wisdom again. It’s better for blood sugar regulation and for fat mobilization (fat burning) to eat 2 to 3 meals per day. Only one rule – no hunger allowed. If your leftover meat and vegetables sound good, you are hungry. If they don’t, it’s most likely that you aren’t really hungry, just seeking to satisfy feelings of boredom or discontent via food. If you are hungry, eat! And then next time, make your meals a bit larger the next day so you can go from meal to meal without feeling hungry in between. My snacks usually look like a mini-meal made from my leftovers!
If you really like to follow a detailed meal plan, I highly recommend the New York Times bestselling book Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo. It has a variety of 30-day meal plans with all the delicious recipes included. A truly awesome book! If you feel like you don’t quite grasp this way of eating, contact me for some one-on-one coaching which includes detailed health assessments, personalized meal planning and lifestyle recommendations. I will hold your hand and gently guide you through it from the very start!