Easy Meal Plan Staples

Meal planning can be overwhelming for a lot of us! I've had to find a balance between

  1. meticulously controlling every breakfast, lunch dinner
  2. planning out meal options so I know what to shop for, and...
  3. 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!

PiYo Meal Planning: Portions, NOT Calories

If you have been following my blog for a while now, you'll know that I have struggled with calorie counting. I decided to give it up a few months back, but have missed the structure of it all. I'm a huge planner and organizer, so when I feel kind of "on my own" about something, I tend to get anxious. While I have dabbled with counting calories again recently, I still stand by the fact that I don't like the effect it has on my brain! I'm not going back there, no matter how much I love to micromanage my life! That's where PiYo comes in. FullSizeRender-2

I'm ending my third week of PiYo workout program and loving every minute of it. I also have LOVED the food plan that it comes with. I tend to follow my own kind of meal plan, but the fact that the PiYo plan counts portions and not calories is huge. The PiYo eating plan places you in a calorie bracket based on your starting weight, but after that, you don't need to count calories. You just tally up how many portions of each food you have for the day. It tells you how much of a certain food counts as a portion, and makes sure you are balanced and well fed throughout the day.


The food choices are endless, and the lists have actually helped me see how many different vegetables, fruits, or proteins I could be eating! I've been looking at my meal plans through this lens lately and it's helped me still have some structure (type A personality anybody?) without getting fixated on the numbers. It's also easy to plan my week by knowing how many portions of each food group I'll need to plan for the day. Usually, I'll plan breakfast, lunch, and snacks, and whatever portions I have left over, I'll have as my dinner. I also don't restrict my vegetable intake. My new mantra: Vegetables make us feel like Wonder Woman....so eat those babies up!





Veggies and berries have been my go-to snacks lately.



I also LOVE that Shakeology counts as a protein. Sometimes, I just can't handle having chicken, turkey, or eggs at every meal. It's just too much protein and chewing, and frankly is not fun 4-5x/day! Shakeology is delicious, chocolately, and jam-packed with nutrients and superfoods, NOT just protein. I usually have this as my mid morning snack (which is 9am for me haha morning person over here!) and it really helps keep me full while allowing me to slurp on delicious chocolate.

As a disclaimer, I am not crazy strict on these portions either. Being too intense about something is not a way to live a lifestyle. I am all for following a plan to a T for a few weeks, but always keep the fact in that back of your mind that you WILL have to go back to normal life, filled with healthy food choices as well as special events and splurges now and then. If I don't have enough protein portions in one day, too many fruits, or a double serving of my gluten-free toast, I don't freak out about it. I just continue with the day and keep on making healthy choices. I just love the framework of the PiYo eating plan and think it is GREAT for people who are trying to get their nutrition in check.

I'll end this post with my meal plan for today, and how I tally up my portions PiYo-style! Again, I'm not being too strict on myself, just trying to see where my portions lie in relation to the recommendations in the eating plan, and use up whatever food I have in the fridge for this week.

Breakfast: Shakeology, blueberries (1 protein, 1 fruit)

Snack: hard boiled eggs, sliced cucumbers (1 protein, 1 veggie)

Lunch: beans and rice salad (2 grains, 2-3 veggies)

Snack: nuts (2 healthy fats)

Dinner: toss up!

Total without dinner: 2 proteins, 2 grains, 1 fruit, 3-4 veggies, 2 healthy fats


I know I have 2 protein portions left for the day, veggies, and fruits! So I will probably try to have a combination of protein and veggies for dinner and eat till fullness, NOT stuff my face with 8oz of steak just to reach my goal. That is why this plan is helpful; you can tally your portions and see where you are for the day, but you DON'T have to ignore fullness or hunger cues. If you want that extra scoop of rice, have it! If you don't feel like having protein yet again, don't worry about it! It's good to be aware, without being too hard on ourselves. As long as our food choices are healthy and mostly vegetables and whole foods, we are well on our way to nourishing our bodies.


Food & Fitness Plan: 11/10-11/14

Hello friends! I hope you all had a fabulous first week of November. I have been loving this month so far and am looking forward to a colder more wintery week...or at least wintery for California! This week's plan is going to consist of a few new recipes and hopefully a some runs. I came down with a nasty cold last week which really effected my running plan. I am feeling much better today and hope to be as good as new in order to run this week! But first, the food plan:

Pre workout options: * I spied these yummy looking pumpkin bagels at Target a few weeks ago and have been wanting to try them. Yesterday, I finally took the plunge and bought them.


I am trying to treat myself a bit more in this whole healthy eating journey without going overboard. I decided that pairing half a bagel with either a fat or protein source would help me enjoy these delicious carbs while still balancing my plate! So as a pre workout option, I may have half a bagel with some fat or protein! I have been eating them with a 1/2 T of Trader Joe's cocoa swirl cooking butter and it's AMAZING!

* banana w/nuts * low carb tortilla with peanut butter * hard boiled egg

Breakfast options: * veggie scramble * egg tacos * hard boiled eggs * healthy whole grain French toast * a bar if I am in a rush!

Lunch options: * Sausage minestrone soup (recipe coming soon!) * Mahi Mahi or Turkey burgers from Trader Joe's w/salad * I bought the Thai Green Curry Sauce from Trader Joe's I am hoping to experiment with this week! Maybe with some chicken...yum! * I also bought some ready-made meatballs from Trader Joe's to have as a quick meal option.

Dinner options: * my Mama's beef and potato casserole...SO GOOD! * out with my parents possibly * any lunch option as dinner would work too!

Dessert options (yes, dessert!) * I made a super healthy single crusted apple pie yesterday that came out tasting delicious! It satisfied my apple pie craving and only has 120 calories/slice...no joke! I'm glad to have a healthy dessert option this week if my sweet tooth kicks in. And don't worry, I will be sharing this recipe soon as well!


Fitness Plan:

11/10: training session (back and biceps) with a lateral elliptical workout...I love this elliptical machine! It moves you up and down and side to side so it targets every leg muscle!

11/11: run + TIU kettlebell workout

11/12: logbook workout from my trainer (legs), lateral elliptical

11/13: run + possible workout with my friend!

11/14: logbook workout (chest, triceps, shoulders) from my trainer, some kind of cardio

11/15-11/16: run, strength training, random!

I am doing the Tone it Up 100 miles by Christmas challenge. I've reached 19 miles so far and am hoping to make a dent in my mileage this week since I am feeling a bit better!

That's all for this week, folks! Here is a bit of Motivation Monday for you before I end this post:


It all starts in the mind! If you keep your thoughts positive and focused on God and His strength, peace and strength will follow. As one of my favorite passages, Colossians 3:1-4 states:

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."

Have a great Monday!

Friday Favorites!

This is my first ever Friday Favorites post, and I'm excited to share the goodies I decided to add to my food collection this week. I started at a new site this week for work, and since I am finally at just ONE site, I decided to make it like my home. I have a drawer there in the kitchen that I can keep food or anything else in, and I decided to stock it up yesterday for those times that I do not have time to eat breakfast at home or pack my meal before heading out the door. Even though I always plan out and pack my meals, life happens, you run late, and you end up grabbing at whatever you can, right? Well I wanted to ensure that what I grab at was a healthy option while still being food that I enjoy. So here is a list of my recent Friday favorites!


1. Skippy natural peanut butter. This is my favorite peanut butter! It tastes amazing and is always so creamy. I decided this should definitely be a staple in my work drawer since I basically eat peanut butter every day!

2. Tuna. Tuna is another great and healthy fast option for food. I bought the water packs, no can opener needed! They are a perfect quick protein source when you are in a bind!

3. Rice cakes. I got two kinds of rice cakes. Rice cakes are great because you can top them with pretty much anything and treat them like toast! I figured I could top mine with the peanut butter or with tuna to make it like a sandwich.

4. Brown rice cups. These cups are easy to eat and make for the perfect whole grains source! I love anything that can be heated up in little time.

5. Cliff pumpkin bars. Okay, so these bars are not the healthiest...but PUMPKIN!! I figured I could keep a few of these in my drawer as a treat. And at least they have some protein in them! :)

A few other essentials I added to my drawer include tea, stevia, a toothbrush/paste with floss, and some cough drops. I figure you can never be too prepared!

That's it for my Friday Favorites! I hope you all have a great and fast Friday...I am so ready for the weekend!

Weekend Recap and Meal Planning!

Hellooooo out there! I am fighting to keep my eyes open as I am recovering from my AMAZING weekend. Every bit of this tired feeling is worth it! :) We went to church family camp this weekend and it was SO much fun to fellowship with family and friends. The mountains were beautiful and being away for the weekend was exactly what I needed! God definitely spoke a word (as Beth Moore would say!) and I am again amazed at his awesomeness, love, and mercy on me. Here are a few pictures from the weekend! :) 20140719_143330


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It was a beautiful weekend that I will definitely never forget. But with every weekend...comes a Monday. And with a Monday, comes another work week. This week is going to be extra busy for me since I am going to be helping at VBS (Vacation Bible School) at church after work almost every night. What I have found is that the busier the week, the more careful I need to be about my meal plans. I don't want to be in a position where I have nothing to eat and am too short on time to make a healthy choice. SO! Even though I was pretty exhausted today, I went to the store and put together a plan for the week. Planning is key to a healthy lifestyle. Without planning, I feel like a chicken running around with no head. I don't know where that analogy came from, but I'll blame the sleepiness! Anyways, I thought I would share my plan so a) I would be held accountable and stick to it and b) I would remember it! I usually make a list of options for each meal, and switch them around depending on what I feel like and my assessment of leftovers! :)


Pre-workout options: 

- Hard boiled eggs with nuts

- Banana with nuts

- Larabars

- One of my healthy baked goods if I miraculously get a chance to bake this week!


Post workout breakfast options:

- Scrambles with veggies and/or sweet potato

- Hard boiled eggs

- Protein pancakes/waffles

- Taco meat with sweet potato


Lunch and Dinner options: I am going to have to eat a quick dinner before heading to church every evening, so I want to make sure to have extra food on hand!

- Leftover tri-tip

- Taco meat (I bought a pound of grass-fed beef from Trader Joe's today and it took about 10-15 minutes to prepare some taco meat! It was so quick and it is always so important to have emergency protein on hand!)

- Turkey burgers (I buy the frozen ones from Trader Joe's...they are so easy to whip up and extremely yummy!)

- Grilled chicken

- Spinach salads


Sides and snacks:

- Sweet potato (microwaving these has changed my lifeeee! So convenient!)

- Plantain chips

- Salads (obviously)

- Carrots w/hummus

- Larabars

- Nuts

- Fruits and veggies!


And that's my plan for the week! No gourmet cooking going on this week, but sometimes it is easier to just go back to your basics, plan some easy and healthy meals that are fool-proof, and attack that busy week like no other! Good luck with our Monday everyone!