Meal planning can be overwhelming for a lot of us! I've had to find a balance between
- meticulously controlling every breakfast, lunch dinner
- planning out meal options so I know what to shop for, and...
- letting the week take control and eating out every night.
Let me tell you, all three of those have happened!
Sometimes I buy too much and all the food goes to waste, sometimes I don't buy enough and find myself at Trader Joe's 3-4x/week. And don't even get me started about BUDGETING! My husband and I have been really careful since getting married because we have been saving for big things, and the area we found that I spend the most is on groceries. I LOVE grocery shopping and trying out new things, but most of the time, simple is always better, especially for the bank account! I've found a way to make foods we love that won't break the bank, and will still nourish us.
But what about the freedom part? Isn't meal planning and prepping too controlling? I would say, no!
Sometimes, when you are trying to eat in a nourishing way, but also not let food rule your life, it can be hard to know how to meal plan and prep so that you know you have healthy options on hand, but also feel freedom and flexibility in the process. The way I like to go about it is to have staples for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that we can alternate throughout the week. We usually alternate meals, and we don't find ourselves getting bored especially when we use different seasonings and ways of eating! Below are some of my staple meals and what I haul each week from the grocery store to make it happen!
1. Taco seasoning. Listen up, Trader Joe's has THEEEE best taco seasoning out there. When we first got married, I had Vasken buy me about 10 packs. And when we ran out, Trader Joe's ran out...for 2 months. I was so sad, and tried to make my own mix (which I know is possible), but sometimes convenience wins, and TJ's seasoning just tastes better. Our local trader just got these packets back in stock, so I hoarded them again and have been using this taco seasoning to season turkey meat (both tacos, and burgers), lentils (taco seasoning + salsa= amazing!) and beans and rice dishes. Make your life easier and go get a few packets of this seasoning mix, you won't regret it!
2. Rolled oats! These are so versatile. I like making a big pot of oatmeal at the beginning of the week (add 1-2 T of chia seeds for extra gooey-ness!) or making a breakfast oatmeal cookie! Plus, oatmeal is full of fiber and other goodness to help us feel full in the morning. Top with fruit and your favorite nut butter and you're good to go!
3. Justin's nut butter packs. I am OBSESSED with these! Healthy fats on the go can be hard to find, but these make it so easy! Just give them a little massage before tearing them open and they have the consistency of melted peanut butter. I eat a packet daily with a banana or apple, or just on its own!
4. Cut up veggies. Sometimes, we can get burnt out from salads, which is why I always love having some cut up veggies to snack on! My favorites are carrots, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, broccoli, and sweet mini bell pepper! Dip in hummus or guacamole for added flavor and a dose of healthy fats!
5. Beans + Rice! When on a budget, beans and rice are a dream come true. I love the Cuban black beans from TJ's. I mix in some brown rice, salsa, taco seasoning, and some frozen fire roasted bell peppers, heat it up and there you go! A delicious burrito bowl! Use as a topping on a salad or sauteed veggies to still get your greens in!
6. EGGS! I feel like eggs go without saying, but they are a delicious and nutritious protein source for us! Yes, even the yolk! The yolk is full of healthy fats that help with hair, skin, eyes, and pretty much every other organ. Plus, each egg has 6-7g of protein in them depending on their size! Scramble them, boil them, fry them, and enjoy!
7. Salad+chip+hummus makes the world go round. This is my go-to lunch combo when time is tight and options are few. I always have the ingredients on hand to make a salad, plus have some kind of healthy chip and dip. Usually, I go for the veggie flax chips or sweet potatoes chips from Trader Joe's! (Can you tell where I do most of my shopping??)
8. Shakeology! Last but not least, my healthiest meal of the day is Shakeology. This whole-foods shake is jam packed with vitamins, minerals, probiotics, digestive enzymes, antioxidants, and more. The best part for this dietitian is that it comes from all whole food superfoods, no weird powders, fillers, or chemicals. I refuse to call it a protein shake, because it's not! It's full of so much more, which makes it incomparable in my professional opinion to other powders on the market! If you'd like to know more about it, please don't hesitate to reach out and ask questions!
If you need help simplifying meal planning and prepping, don't worry, I've got you! It's taken me years to hone in the skills to make this process as easy and as nutritious as possible. I hope this list helps you all, and if you ever need more ideas or added support or info, use the contact me button above to get in touch with me! I love hearing from my readers and helping in however way I can! Have a great Thursday, all!