You might be surprised to know that healthy eating doesn’t come naturally for me. There’s a reason I had to give up chocolate for Lent. I have quite the sweet tooth. (Hmmm, considering that I started this blog about running and frozen custard might tip you off to that too.) I would live off cookies and ice cream if I could! However, with a background in nutrition, I obviously know the effects of too much sugar in my diet. Plus, I can feel my energy levels go down when my diet contains too much sugar and junk in it.
Healthy eating takes some motivation. My motivation comes from how I feel when I eat healthy, good-for-you foods. I try to eat healthy 80% of the time, filling my belly full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and vegetarian protein sources (beans, tofu, cheese, quinoa, and nuts/seeds). And I use that 20% to satisfy my sweet tooth and for the occasional indulgence. Eating this way gives me a ton of energy (OK, not a ton since I do still have a child to care for) and makes me feel good. And, it helped me shed my post-pregnancy weight, so it was great for weight loss and maintenance for me.
But, where motivation lacks, careful planning picks up. I could not eat the way I do and provide healthy meals for my family without a little planning on my part. I spend part of my Friday night or Saturday morning making a list of dinners for the week. I don’t usually worry about planning breakfasts and lunches because they’re pretty similar on a day-to-day basis. So, my planning goes into our dinners. We have our regulars each week (pizza, soup, frittata, egg rolls), once a month meals (burgers + fries, pasta dishes), and new recipes that make planning a little easier as well.
Once dinners are planned around our schedules for the week, I make a list. Lately, I’ve been using Ziplist on my iPhone and Kindle to save paper and I’ve been loving it! Plus, it divides things into categories for me so I don’t have to worry about trying to fit something in on a piece of paper. I make my list by sections in the store: produce, deli, packaged products, frozen, and dairy. This way I don’t have to backtrack if I miss something on my list. Makes shopping that much easier!
Things that are almost always included on my list on a weekly basis, if not in my pantry:
Spinach or Kale
Berries (in the summer)
Lunch meat (for Matt and MacKenna)
Beans (black beans, chickpeas, etc.)
Coffee (of course!)
Frozen fruit (for smoothies)
And here is an example of my grocery haul for this week.
Frozen fruit, waffles, veggie burgers, soy chik’n patties
Onions, peppers, broccoli, yogurt, cheddar, carrots, 2% milk, tomatoes
Black beans, diced tomatoes, orzo, vegetable brother, all purpose flour, whole wheat bread, Froste Mini Spooners, bananas
It’s definitely not perfect, but the majority of it is healthy. (Frosted Mini Spooners are the easiest thing for me to eat in the car with my smoothie.) Yes, there are some times when we waste food (it’s inevitable) but for the most part, our fruits and veggies stay fresh for the week. There are also times when we have to go out and buy something else (like the quart of frozen custard I bought on Monday) and times when I buy too much of something and it goes to waste. But, I am getting better about trying to use everything we have before buying something new. It’s all about progress, right?!
This is what works for us. I’m a perfectionist and planner and if I didn’t do this, you better believe my cart would be FULL of ice cream and cookies! A little extra planning goes a long way!
Do you plan out your meals and grocery list for the week? What are your “must-haves” on your grocery list or in your pantry?