diet

Veggie Curry

Over the past few months, my Sundays have become synonymous with a few things: brunch with old friends, relaxation, and meal prep. Friends in the paleo world have always preached the importance of preparing meals ahead of time, but I didn’t realize how much time I would save throughout the week by chopping veggies, boiling eggs, and having full meals ready to pop in the microwave after work or before classes. Thank goodness I finally listened to them! 🙂

One of my staple meals is Veggie Curry. Most curry recipes I found online incorporated rice or quinoa and garbanzo beans, but I wanted something that would work for me if I was on Whole30 or simply avoiding grains and legumes.

Whole30 Veggie Curry Recipe | So It Must Be True

This recipe is incredibly nutrient dense and flavorful. It’s also easy to make! I prep this meal almost weekly and heat it up before class. This recipe makes about 3 meals.

Whole30 Veggie Curry Recipe | So It Must Be True

Ingredients:

  • 3 bell peppers, chopped (any color – I like to use red, yellow and green)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded or chopped
  • 4 cups cauliflower rice (I use frozen Birds Eye Steam Fresh or Green Giant, but you can also make your own by grinding cauliflower in your food processor)
  • 1 cup chicken broth (use vegetable broth to make the recipe vegetarian/vegan)
  • 3 tbsp petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • Optional: Salt and garlic to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil over low heat.
  2. Add in chopped peppers, carrots, and sweet potato, along with spices. Let cook on low heat for five minutes.
  3. Stir in cauliflower rice, tomatoes, and chicken broth.
  4. Cover and continue to cook on low for 15 minutes.
  5. Uncover, stir, and heat up to medium low. Cook for another 15-20 minutes or until the cauliflower rice has soaked up the rest of the broth.
  6. Serve or store in meal prep containers. Bon appetit!

Reigniting The Spark: How To Get Your Health Goals Back On Track

Reigniting The Spark: How To Get Your Health Goals Back on TrackFor many of us, the beginning of a diet program can often feel like the beginning of a relationship. We’re excited to embark on something new, enthusiastic about the changes in our lives, and looking forward to the possibilities ahead. Of course, after that honeymoon period runs its course, sometimes it can be difficult to maintain that same level of enthusiasm toward the program, as we become complacent or begin to recognize the uncomfortable moments more often than we used to.

I began experimenting with a paleo lifestyle back in 2014 by completing my first Whole30, and since then, the program has played a significant role in my health and wellness. However, I sometimes struggle with motivation and consistency, and find my health journey to be a work in progress. The more that I talk to others in the Whole30 community, the more that I learn that a second, third, or fourth Whole30 can often be much harder than the first, because many of us do have difficulty staying on track even after we’ve experienced positive results.

Sounds a little counter-intuitive, right? Luckily, I’ve dedicated the better part of 2016 thus far to really focusing on ways to re-motivate ourselves once the magic wears off. Read below for my tips on keeping up with your program and remaining empowered even after the honeymoon period is over! 🙂

Reigniting The Spark: How To Get Your Health Goals On Track

How To Get Your Health Goals Back On Track1. Dedicate time for meal prep.
Let’s face it — eating healthy can be time-consuming! You’re preparing most of your own meals from scratch, avoiding a lot of the quick but nutrient-deficient shortcuts a lot of us fall victim to. Because of this, it can be so easy to give up after a long day of work and other responsibilities, and order takeout instead. An easy way to save time and take out a lot of the guesswork is to create a meal plan ahead of time and do a lot of the prep work early. For me, Sundays are the perfect day to decide what I’m going to eat each day (and yes, I do incorporate my social outings into that plan), buy the appropriate foods at the grocery store, and begin prepping those foods.

So what does “meal prep” mean to me? Typically, I’ll put on some vintage Keeping Up With The Kardashians (or another show that entertains me but doesn’t require too much concentration), and set aside an hour or two to chop up veggies for dishes I’ll eat throughout the week, wash fruit for easy grab-and-go access, and hard-boil some eggs to have a convenient protein source available at any time. Your meal prep can be as elaborate as you choose — some like to prepare all of their meals to reheat, and that works too! For me, having my veggies pre-washed and pre-chopped makes it easy to just throw them on the stove or in the oven later in the week, and saves me a ton of time!

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2. Make things exciting in the kitchen.
Browse Pinterest for cool recipes you can try (check mine out here for inspiration!), or invest in a new kitchen gadget you look forward to using. Find ways to spice things up in the kitchen — literally! When I started to grow sick of scrambled eggs, I started adding cumin and turmeric for a bold new flavor profile. When I’ve enjoyed a new ethnic dish and wanted to make a healthier version of it at home, I’ve often searched “lightened up __” or “paleo ___” to expand my culinary horizons. Figure out those routine favorites that you can make quickly and regularly, but continue to branch out so that things don’t become too stale. Why not aim to try one new recipe each week?

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How To Get Your Health Goals Back On Track3. Incorporate positive mantras into your program.
I’ve struggled with body image issues for as long as I can remember.  Since I was in middle school, I always associated health and weight loss goals as something negative, something to be ashamed of, instead of as a way to improve your overall well-being. A few months ago, I decided to flip the switch on that mindset by giving myself motivational notes to wake up to each morning. These quotes and messages give me a positive affirmation to focus on throughout the day, and remind me of how far I’ve come. The notes were so successful for me that they even went viral on the Whole30 Instagram page! 🙂 I try to create new words of encouragement for myself each and every month.

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4. Hide the scale.
If you’re anything like me, then you’ve let that little number either make or break your whole day. One of the rules of the Whole30 program is to not weigh yourself for the entire 30 days, but over the years, this was the rule I always broke. I found that if I wasn’t losing weight fast enough, then even if I felt other positive changes from my diet (better skin, more energy, etc.), I often gave up halfway through the month. This January, I finally stowed the scale away in my guest room (out of sight, out of mind) and fully avoided it for the entire month. Taking a break from weighing myself multiple times per day was extremely helpful for me and showed me just how unhealthy my relationship with the scale truly was. If you consider yourself overly dependent on the scale, I challenge you to hide it for a month!

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5. Find accountability partners.
Use social media or find people in your real life with whom you can be accountable! I belong to a few private groups on Facebook, some dedicated to Whole30 and some more focused on clean eating as it differs by individual, and having a strong support system makes it that much easier to stay on track. Whether you join one of those private groups or simply find a gym buddy to keep you on your toes, find others who are just as health-focused and turn to each other!

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What are your tips for staying motivated? Share yours in the comments section below!

The Weekend Five: Small Health Changes You Can Make Today

5 Small Health Changes You Can Make Today

It’s Sunday, which is the perfect day to reevaluate our health goals and come up with a game plan for the upcoming week. After a much-needed afternoon workout and some food prep to get me through a busy work week, I’m excited to amp up my health and fitness and continue to make positive changes!

I’ve written extensively about my experiences with the Whole30, a 30-day elimination program with similar guidelines to the paleo diet, and while I totally recommend the program for anyone looking to make a change, I understand that it can be a huge transition for many people. Although I personally needed a huge change when it came to my health, I know that a lot of people benefit more from making smaller changes over time.

This week, I’d like to share five of my tips for improving your health, one small step at a time. Feel free to add your own in the comments section below!

The Weekend Five: Small Health Changes You Can Make Today

1. Drink water.
Stay away from soda, booze, juices and high-calorie/high-sugar drinks! It’s important to get enough water in your system each day — and what better way to do that than by replacing your other drinks with water? You’ll save money in restaurants, hydrate your skin, and consume fewer calories from beverages alone (just to name a few benefits). You’ll also be able to skip some of the mindless eating that so many of us fall victim to, because you won’t as easily mistake your thirst for hunger. Carry a reusable bottle with you every day to ensure you’re getting all the water you need!

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5 Small Changes You Can Make to Improve Your Health2. Purge the junk food from the pantry.
Out of sight, out of mind! If certain snacks are problem foods for you, keep them out of the house. Fill your pantry and refrigerator with nutritious foods. Having fruits and vegetables easily accessible at home makes it a lot easier to make a healthy choice, especially if eating junk food requires you to get in the car and go to the store.

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3. Add in a few minutes of light exercise every day.
Even if you don’t cut down on calories or junk food, moving around and burning calories will still be a positive improvement. As studies now deem sitting as the new smoking, counter that by working out to some capacity every day. Instead of going out to eat, see if your friends want to go for a walk in a new part of town. Go bowling or mini-golfing. Do something more active than sitting and staring at the TV, and make your social activities more active as well.

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4. Cut out one thing at a time.
If the thought of an elimination diet like the Whole30 overwhelms you, take it one ingredient at a time. Start by cutting out refined sugars for a week. The next week, add to that by cutting out the creamers in your coffee (or something else that isn’t particularly healthy). Work on each habit individually instead of tackling them all at once if you find this method to be more manageable for you!

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5. Limit the number of meals out each week.
Restaurant meals are packed with salt, calories and more hidden ingredients than you’ll know what to do with! By cooking at home, you’ll know exactly what you’re eating. You can still enjoy yourself and indulge from time to time, but by preparing more of your own meals, you can get a better nutritional bang for your buck, cut back on calories and save some money!

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What are some easy health changes you suggest?

Link Love Wednesday: Disney Princes and Venus Retrograde

Well hello there, Prince Charming…

Happy August, readers! I graduated from college two years ago, but I still get that same lump in my throat when August rolls around… It’s almost back-to-school time! Thankfully, I won’t be juggling work and classes this time around (although next August may be another story!), but this time of the year is still a hectic one for me. I’m happy to have a few more slightly relaxing weeks before things get crazy here!

How are you spending your last few weeks of summer? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! In the meantime, check out the latest batch of Link Love, and feel free to share your own favorites. 🙂

What are your favorite links from the last week? Share yours in the comments section below!

Link Love Wednesday: Futuristic Fashion, Love & Mathematics

5ClGUNklg-wk7KVyQwU50QHappy July, readers! I hope the summer is treating everyone well and that you are finding fun ways to beat the heat. Grab a cold beverage, crank up the air conditioner, and tune into this week’s batch of link love to entertain yourself on one of those days when you just can’t bear to go outside. 🙂

What are some of your favorite links from the last week? Share your Internet findings in the comments section below!

Get Skinny Quick: A Summary of Every Diet That Has Ever Existed

cathy-image1Over the last year, I’ve opened up about my health and weight loss efforts through this blog and through social media in the hopes that I can help others in their journey to better health and overall wellness. I began my first Whole30 in February 2014, but over the years I’ve experimented with a variety of programs and even a few fad diets, so I’m familiar with what else is out there.

Longtime readers will know that I love to make fun of everything in today’s culture, but what many of you may not know is that I also love to make fun of the multi-billion dollar diet industry as well. We are overwhelmed with options for how we can lose weight and achieve our health goals, often to the point that we don’t know where to get started. Diet and exercise begin to sound too simplified; we need something with more rules, more structure. So much structure we can barely breathe.

1317519207815_5947909Of course, we all know that losing weight usually comes down to one thing: burning more calories than we are taking in. However, we tend to disagree on where those calories should come from, whether or not we should count them, and how much we should really focus on them in the first place.

Today’s post summarizes and pokes fun at the many weight loss options we have, according to the media and the diet industry. Which one do you subscribe to? 🙂

  • Women’s Magazine Diet: As its name suggests, this type of eating plan has been popularized by women’s magazines and lifestyle websites everywhere. In order to lose weight, your diet should solely consist of Greek yogurt (topped with honey and granola), fish, quinoa, hummus, a single piece of dark chocolate every night, and enough kale to make your head spin. Also, you should have a glass of red wine every night because of the antioxidant properties. (Never mind the fact that the health benefits of red wine mainly come from the skin of red grapes, and therefore you’d be better off eating red grapes!)
  • Diet-JokeTiny Meals Diet: Eat twelve 100-calorie meals per day, because everyone knows your metabolism speeds up when you’re scrambling in the kitchen to come up with twelve tiny meals.
  • Complicate Your Life Diet: You must eat four meals per day at 300 calories each. The first meal must consist solely of simple carbs. The second meal must consist solely of protein. The third meal must consist solely of vegetables. For the fourth meal, you must incorporate all food groups, arrange your plate by color and perform the dance of the seven veils before eating. If it sounds simple enough, then you’re doing it wrong.
  • Celebrity Diet: Every female celebrity with a toned bod is asked to share her secrets for obtaining a trim waist. She will suggest the following: Eat everything you want “in moderation.” Don’t think about dieting. Eat dark chocolate every day. Be confident. Have a lot of sex (even though your current weight makes you feel less likely to find a romantic partner). Laugh a lot. Hug your children. Forget the fact that these celebrities have trainers, personal chefs and strict diet regimens. Just follow these rules and you might lose weight, or you might just fill up on dark chocolate.
  • 4580d82a39cb4994dad989276ebecf51If It Fits Your Macros Diet: Eat pizza and donuts all day in accordance with how much you exercise. If your macros don’t add up by the end of the day, grab a spoonful of peanut butter.
  • Clean Eating Lite Diet: Eat lots of vegetables, but only when prepared with parmesan cheese and panko bread crumbs. (Thanks, Pinterest!)
  • Paleo Lite Diet: Say you’re paleo, but really just eat lots of bacon and almond flour pancakes.
  • Obscure Ingredient Diet: Does the recipe call for salt? Use Himalayan sea salt instead. Why drink water when you can drink Moon Juice? Buy only organic foods, even if they don’t exist in an organic variety. You’ll be sure to lose weight, because you’ll give up on finding these ingredients in your neighborhood grocery store and wind up not eating anything.
  • tumblr_m7tvb3sIkF1qzplvlo1_1280Link-Bait Diet: This diet pulls you in with a catchy headline or video that you can relate to. “DO YOU TRY EVERY DIET OUT THERE AND STILL STRUGGLE TO LOSE WEIGHT?” they ask. Why yes, you think to yourself, that’s totally me. You click the link and get sucked into an hour-long video that promises to give you five weight-loss tools that will help you obtain the body of your dreams. But first – the narrator says, “You’re probably wondering why I’m qualified to talk about this.” No I’m not. “Well, I used to be just like you… [cue sob story about the narrator’s weight problems and how depressed he/she was].” I don’t care, just tell me the five tools! “Before I tell you the five tools, let me tell you a little more about how insecure you must be feeling.” An hour later, you have learned nothing about how to lose weight, but you have been offered a special discount if you act now and purchase these diet pills.
  • Pre-Packaged Merchandise Diet: Don’t even bother with fruits, vegetables or your own home-cooking. Instead, buy diet drinks and frozen meals that will allow you to quantify exactly how many calories or points you have accrued. These drinks and frozen meals can only be purchased if they are sold by the company whose diet you’re on.
  • Juice Cleanse Diet: Drink your calories for the next 3 days to 1 week. This will cause you to be really moody. Say snarky things to everyone around you and lose all of your friends. When the cleanse is over, no one will invite you out anymore, especially not for food-related outings. The weight will really start to come off quickly!

Have I missed any important diets? Sound off in the comments section below! 🙂

Forget Quinoa! 5 Superfoods You Should Be Eating

Forget Quinoa! 5 Superfoods You Should Be EatingFlip through any health magazine in your neighborhood supermarket, and you’ll quickly find an article about the next greatest superfood. In the past few years, every time I’ve searched for clean and healthy recipes, I’ve been immediately inundated with quinoa and kale dishes to the point of nausea. Does anyone else feel the same?

Throughout my Whole30 journey, I have tried to incorporate a lot of nutrient-dense foods into my diet, and am amazed at how much better I feel. Over time, I have not only discovered just how delicious they can be, but how many health benefits these foods have. They may not be as glam as the quinoa-kale salads that have exploded all over my home page on Pinterest, but they can still be prepared in fun and flavorful ways and deserve a little love.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact a medical professional. I am not a licensed dietician — I just happen to play one on TV.

Without further adieu…

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Forget Quinoa! 5 Superfoods You Should Be Eating1. Sweet Potato
Forget the marshmallow-filled sweet potato casseroles you grew up eating. Sweet potatoes on their own are an excellent source of Vitamin A (377% of your daily Vitamin A needs in just one cup), which is important for good vision and healthy skin, among other things. Sweet potatoes also have nearly as much potassium as bananas, but only 1/3 of the amount of sugar. Paleo foodies are already aware of the many awesome ways to prepare your sweet potatoes, but for those who need a little inspiration, check out my Pinterest page for recipes. Pop over to Lexi’s Clean Kitchen for my favorite sweet potato gnocchi recipe!

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2. Cabbage
Cabbage gets a bad rap, thanks to this scene from Austin Powers (you’re welcome), but aside from its reputation as a food for circus folks, this vegetable is actually packed with tons of health benefits. Cabbage is a good source of Vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting. Cabbage also has cancer-fighting properties and is good for your immune system, heart health and more. Not sure how to incorporate it into your diet? Try these garlicky cabbage “steaks” from Rockin Mom’s Kitchen and you won’t regret it!

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Forget Quinoa! 5 Superfoods You Should Be Eating3. Eggs
No, they will not give you heart disease. Eggs actually have the potential to improve your HDL (the good kind of cholesterol) and are a complete source of protein. They are pretty much perfect! I hard-boil several eggs early in the week as a grab-and-go healthy snack, but they can be prepared in a variety of ways. Dani Spies from Clean and Delicious has a great 101 video about how to buy, store and cook eggs. Vegetarians, this is a great protein option for you!

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4. Blueberries
As a child, I always heard that if it could stain your clothes, it was probably pretty healthy. Of course, you could easily stain your clothes with food dyes and plenty of not-so-healthy snack foods, but the rule more or less applies for fruits and veggies. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants and a relatively low glycemic fruit, which means they won’t wreak havoc on your blood sugar. Eat them raw or bake them into something – the world is your oyster.

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Forget Quinoa! 5 Superfoods You Should Be Eating5. Pineapple
Not only do pineapples make excellent homes for hyperactive sea creatures (here’s looking at you, Spongebob), but they also taste awesome and have a lot of important nutrients. Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain, which reduces swelling, bruising and inflammation. One cup of pineapple contains more than 100% of your recommended daily Vitamin C, which is vital for the immune system. Try cooking up some pineapple chunks in coconut oil and cinnamon for a sweet but still healthy treat. If nothing else, it will make your kitchen smell fantastic!

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What are some superfoods you enjoy? Share your favorites in the comments section below!

Link Love Wednesday: Dark Lord Funk

maxresdefaultHi everyone! As always,  I hope you are having a wonderful week. 🙂 Unfortunately for me, since last week’s Link Love, I have been a little under the weather with pharyngitis and laryngitis. When I do talk, I sound like a 13-year-old boy whose voice is finally starting to change! Thankfully, between cups of tea and bowls of hot soup, I have been relatively productive, going through some spring cleaning, publishing a few guest articles, and (of course) collecting our latest batch of Link Love. The Internet sure is a wonderful place to go when you’re not feeling well enough to do much else!

What are some of your favorite links and articles from the week? Bloggers, did you post anything you’re particularly proud of this week Share in the comments section below! 🙂

Your Health in Action: Eating Healthy While Maintaining Your Social Life

Tips for Eating Healthy While Maintaining Your Social Life

Whether you’re a seasoned paleo foodie, a chronic dieter or a newcomer to the world of clean eating, there’s a good chance that you’ve struggled at one point or another with how to stick to your program in social situations. Going out to a restaurant or a party can be pure torture (read: relatively inconvenient) for those enduring any kind of elimination diet or simply trying to eat healthier, especially when the people you go out with are ordering all the unhealthy foods you still crave.

Luckily, there are ways to make your social life a whole lot easier to maintain while still making your health a priority. Here are a few tips to get you started!

"But what will I eat at Tiffany's?" Holly asked herself, wondering if she could find a menu online.

“But what will I eat at Tiffany’s?” Holly asked herself, wondering if she could find a menu of their breakfast options  online.

Research the menus ahead of time.
Your friend calls you up and says, “We’re going to that trendy new restaurant downtown tonight. They serve cupcakes in champagne glasses for dessert so bring your appetite.” You immediately jump into a panic because: (a) Cupcakes sound amazing right now but you’re trying to kick your sugar habit. (b) You aren’t really sure what you’ll be able to eat because you’ve never been there. (c) Parking is horrible downtown, especially on a Saturday night.

Luckily, there’s an easy solution to problems A and B: go online and look up the restaurant’s menu online! As both a picky eater and someone who has completed a few rounds of Whole30, I do this all the time before going to a new restaurant. If I can make a decision before I leave the house, I am less likely to order a bucket of tater tots in a fit of hunger and panic. Knowing what you’re going to order beforehand takes away most of the pressure you may be feeling, so that instead you can focus your energy on finding the right parking garage. Planning ahead is key to your success!

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Know your staples and substitutions.
Most of the time, I know I am safest ordering a salad or some combination of grilled chicken and veggies, and I am totally fine with it! Have an idea of what works for you before perusing the menu, and don’t be afraid to make substitutions. I am constantly replacing rice with veggies or asking for the sauce/dressing on the side, and most places are ok with these changes to an extent. I even keep a running list of my favorite healthy options and substitutions at local chain restaurants that allow me to stick to my program if I go out for the night.

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Sabrina didn't have the heart to tell Linus that alcohol wasn't permitted on the Whole30.

Sabrina didn’t have the heart to tell Linus that alcohol wasn’t permitted on the Whole30.

Speak up.
If you decide to go out with friends, pick the restaurant. No more of this back-and-forth “I don’t know, where do you want to eat?” that seems to land you at the Olive Garden every time. (Mmmmm, endless breadsticks.) I have a few friends who are kind enough to ask me if I’m on Whole30 before we go out, but there are plenty of times I’ll take charge on a restaurant choice because I already know there won’t be anything compliant for me at other restaurants. Don’t be afraid to speak up and make the decision yourself!

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Bring food to the party.
I’m guilty of snacking at parties. No matter how many people are present, there always seems to be more than enough food to nosh on between conversations and awkward one-armed hugs. I have never been to a single party where healthy food outnumbered the junk food (although one can only dream of a secret paleo society that hosts monthly parties featuring sweet potato gnocchi and cauliflower poppers). To keep yourself from gravitating toward the Cheetos, bring a healthy snack that people will enjoy and fits your own program. There are about a million ways to make a fun fruit salad, or if you are on a less restrictive program, you can always opt for healthier versions of your favorite junk food (Skinny Pop Popcorn and The Better Chip spinach/kale chips are two of my favorites). Besides, bringing food to a party is the proper thing to do!

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Ann didn't want to spend her entire Roman holiday focused on food, so she and Joe hopped on a Vespa to cruise around the city instead.

Ann didn’t want to spend her entire Roman holiday focused on food, so she and Joe hopped on a Vespa to cruise around the city instead.

Focus your activities on something other than food.
Fun fact: Not every social activity needs to involve a meal. If you find it difficult to stick to your program while out in a restaurant (because, let’s face it, this is no easy feat), stop going out to restaurants. Invite your friends to go bowling or visit an art festival. Watch a movie in the park. Find a museum in the area that you’ve never been to before. Have fun without bonding over how much you’ll hate yourselves for ordering the mozzarella sticks.

Avoid the scale.
In general, a lot of experts suggest avoiding the scale (or cutting back on its use) regardless of your social life, but my tip in particular focuses on restaurant visits. Most restaurants will pack your food with tons of salt, so if you’re planning a weigh-in any time soon, you may want to wait.

"Do I look like I care what you think?" Jo asked, posing fabulously with the Nike of Samothrace.

“Do I look like I care what you think?” Jo asked, posing fabulously with the Nike of Samothrace.

Stop caring about what others think.
When you change your lifestyle, especially when that leads to dietary restrictions, there will be naysayers. Don’t listen to them. Remember that different food groups and chemicals affect everyone differently. I would love to lose weight while eating endless bowls of pasta and laughing in the faces of my enemies, who have gained weight eating that same pasta, I know this is not possible for me. I know how gluten affects my skin, mood and stomach, so when people comment that I should be eating “whole grains” and “in moderation,” I’ll smile, thank them for their suggestions, and keep doing what I’ve been doing. You know what works for you better than anyone else does (except your doctor, of course), so if your friends start giving you unwarranted dietary advice, ignore them or change the subject.

What are your tips for maintaining a social life while still eating healthy? Sound off in the comments section below!

Your Health in Action: A Guide to Effortless Meal Planning

Courtesy of Spud Comics

Courtesy of Spud Comics

Embarking on a new diet or wellness program can often be challenging. As you attempt to eliminate those “problem foods” or to introduce new super foods to your lifestyle, you may not know where to begin! Those regular staples you once fell back on are now out of the picture, and you might find yourself struggling to figure out what to eat or how best to stock your kitchen.

Meal planning can be a simple and effective answer to the overwhelming questions, “What groceries should I buy and what should I make for dinner tonight?” No matter what your dietary preferences or limitations may be, a meal plan is a great way to prepare yourself for the week ahead and to avoid wasting food!

I’ve created a meal planning template of my own that I use regularly, and I find it extremely useful to incorporate into my busy schedule. Click here to download my meal plan template as a Microsoft Excel file that you can edit, or click here to download the PDF version to print.

Weekly Meal Plan Template & Tips from So It Must Be True

Having a meal plan keeps me on track and helps me avoid going to Publix four times in one week (as much as I love grocery shopping). It also allows me to turn my “hey-I-saw-this-on-Pinterest-and-I-want-to-make-it” dreams into a reality because I know which ingredients to purchase ahead of time.

Here are a few tips for creating your own weekly meal plan that works for you:

  • Think about what you will be doing that week. In my event-driven job, I am constantly working during meal times and often exposed to delicious but unhealthy free foods. (I’m thinking of you, pizza!) When I think about my schedule when meal planning, I can determine when I will need to pack a lunch that will keep me away from the pizza box, or (if I know I’ll be working late), I can decide ahead of time to pack a snack to tide me over until I get home. On my personal downloadable meal plan, you can actually fill in your daily activities and add notes for these days.
  • Think critically about meal prep. On my meal plan, I like to include certain tasks, such as “defrost chicken” or “hard-boil eggs,” to ensure that these foods are ready by the time I am ready for them. I may also incorporate my weekly schedule by adding the reminder to “pack lunch for tomorrow.” These “meal prep tasks for the next day” are the perfect way to make sure your ingredients are ready to go.
  • Consider packaging and portion sizes. Buying a fresh head of broccoli? Think about how many servings you will make with that, and implement those into your plan. For example, if a package of cauliflower florets yields two individual recipes with cauliflower, you should include two cauliflower meals on your meal plan so that your produce doesn’t go bad.
  • Keep staples on hand. If you know that you regularly use a certain ingredient, such as almond flour or coconut oil, always make sure you are fully stocked. It’s always disappointing when you are dying to try a new recipe but have to run to the store at the last minute to pick up a basic ingredient. Always check your cupboards before shopping.

Once again, you can download my weekly meal planner template as an Excel file here or as a PDF here. For recipe inspiration, check out my Pinterest boards!

What are your weekly meal plan tips? Share yours in the comments section below!