On Sunday night around 7:30, I sat down on the couch with my legal pad, a pen, and my laptop. This means serious work is about to go down...
Before the weekend completely slipped away, I wanted to get our meals organized for the week ahead here at FLF HQ (aka my house;).
By 7:45-ish, I was done. A week's worth of fat loss-friendly breakfasts, lunches, dinners - all mapped out and finished in about 15 minutes.
Am I just REALLY amazing at meal planning? How did I do this in 15 minutes? I'll tell you:)
In this post, I'm breaking down exactly how I "meal plan."
The way I plan meals is not meticulous or stressful. I do not EVER cook everything at once (also known as "meal prep"). I might wash and chop veggies when I come home from the store but that's about it. I cook in batches throughout the week when I have time, always making enough for leftovers for the next day.
Let's break it down meal by meal, shall we?
Breakfast is my absolute favorite. I have a handful of meals I love that I know work great for me; keep in mind these exact foods might not work for you. These meals keep me full, give me good energy, and don't make me crave a mid-morning donut. These breakfasts include ingredients that are either staples I always have (like eggs and oats) or ingredients leftover from dinners (like roasted veggies, goat cheese, avocado, etc.)
Coffee is a non-negotiable, and then I'm having one of these breakfasts:
- An egg scramble with veggies and goat cheese and some high-fiber toast;
- A bowl of protein oats with a spoonful of almond or peanut butter;
- A bowl of oats (no protein powder) with 2 eggs and a sprinkle of goat cheese on top;
- Protein pancakes: I usually have this on Fridays because it just feels like a fun celebratory breakfast lol. The end of another week - woohoo!! Plus, I almost always teach BODYPUMP on Friday mornings and there's something about protein pancakes after class that just makes me all kinds of happy. Sometimes I toss in blueberries, sometimes it's a few spoonfuls of pumpkin puree and cinnamon.
- A huge slice of frittata with hot sauce and a piece of seasonal fruit or cup of berries. (I make this ahead on Sundays when I know the week is going to be insane and I won't have time to cook.)
I make sure my staples are stocked, and if not - add them to the grocery list.
I love variety, but I also love routine, consistency, and simplicity. Having 5 go-to breakfasts that I rotate through? You guys - there's a reason I bolt out of bed before my alarm goes off and can't wait to get up and start my day: I freaking love my breakfasts and coffee.
For a fat loss-friendly meal, you need protein, fibrous veggies, and the right amount of carbs (this varies by individual, but most likely you are going to be limiting your starchy carb intake.) You also need to ENJOY IT, which usually means the addition of a little fat for flavor. What better way to check these boxes than salads with fun toppings or re-purposed dinner leftovers?!
Here's what I'll be having this week:
- A big bowl filled with a bed of butter lettuce and topped with a scoop of leftover brown rice and a scoop of Picadillo made with grass fed beef. Handful of chopped red bell pepper. Topped with a few chunks of avocado and a drizzle of Tessemae's Creamy Ranch dressing. (I just ate this today as I was writing this post and it rocked my world.)
- Salads with greens, roasted beets, shredded carrots, chopped cucumber, and chickpeas, topped with either canned tuna or leftover chicken (from dinners this week). Good dressing from Tessemae's and goat cheese. I mix up my salad fixins every week and they never get old!
If I run out of veggies or I'm out running errands, I will grab a salad at Chop't or grab something at the Whole Foods hot bar. Done and done.
I plan about 3 dinner menus per week. I only cook for 2 people (my husband and me) and we love to repurpose leftovers, so there's no need to plan 7 unique dinners for the week. Plus, we usually eat out 1-2 nights per week and go somewhere like Chop't, Chipotle, or grab salads and protein burgers from Burger Bach.
This week, I took a quick search through some food blogs I keep bookmarked and found some inspiration for 3 meals that all, once again, follow the formula of protein and fibrous veggies with a little bit of starchy carbs. I'm a visual person; I just clicked what looked good;)
- BBQ Chicken and Quinoa Bowls inspired by the food/recipe blog, "What's Gaby Cooking." Her bowls had 3 big scoops of different kinds of starchy carbs (black beans, quinoa, and corn), so I'm going to dial that back a bit and increase the non-starch veggies with some chopped bell pepper, shredded carrots, and quick pickles. Hers were also covered in shredded cheese, which isn't really my thing (I'd rather have avocado or good dressing for my fats!) I'll serve this BBQ Chicken and Quinoa over a bed of greens and top with diced avocado, a drizzle of that Tessemae's Creamy Ranch, and a sprinkle of cilantro.
- Sheet pan dinner: Harissa-Roasted Salmon and Veggies with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce. Ugh. I hate myself a little just typing that. It sounds so fancy!! ? Well, it was inspired by a Gwyneth Paltrow recipe on Goop.com - so it's no coincidence if you can TASTE a hint of "I'm better than you." But seriously though: Salmon, carrots, cauliflower, fennel. One sheet pan. Olive oil salt and pepper. Spicy Harissa. A drizzle of a simple sauce made with tahini, yogurt, and lemon juice. I think it's gonna be great.
- Yogurt-marinated Chicken Skewers. Going to serve these with roasted veggies and either brown rice or quinoa. Probably a plop of hummus and yogurt and squeeze of fresh lemon over everything. Yeah. That's good enough.
That's it. That is how I plan what to eat each week. It's just real food that tastes good. It's food that is high in protein, high in fiber - but it's not so weird that your friends and family won't eat it (quite the opposite, actually. In fact, we've coined a new term in the Summer Fat Loss Cooking School group: "Vulture Husbands." They are our clients' husbands and when good food is cooking, suddenly they start circling with interest and asking questions.
This way of eating keeps me lean, healthy, and fueled without restriction or rigidity.
You Forgot Something: Dessert!
One afternoon a week (it's usually Thursday or Friday), I'll head to Coco Bean in Chapel Hill for a Cold Brew and a Gluten-Free Vegan cupcake or GF Vegan brownie* because I believe in having dessert every week. Or I might go grab frozen yogurt w/ my husband one night after we teach classes. (*Not trying to be "healthy" by eating Vegan brownies here; they actually just taste better than the non-Vegan ones. GO FIGURE.)
But afterwards, I'll go right back to biz as usual at my next meal. Some days I'll have a few squares of dark chocolate from our chocolate drawer in the kitchen.
When your hormones are balanced and you're well-nourished, you truly don't have the urge to eat an entire drawer full of dark chocolate. (I've been that girl, and I'm never going back.)
I wanted to share this post because the vibe I'm feeling from the internet fitness and nutrition space right now is VERY heavy on the restriction. The rigid. The black and white. The absolutes and the "thou shalt nots." A lot of fear-based marketing and group-think.
Fat Loss Foodies will always be right here, holding the middle ground - and doing it proudly.
Where we love vegetables, but we also love good chocolate.
Where we are not holding contests for how many days we can go without eating, all in the name of "cleansing."
Where we love fueling our bodies and training hard, but also know how to pull back and chill and go for a walk.
If you've been feeling lost and overwhelmed by what you're seeing pass as "fitness and nutrition" online these days, I hope this post helps you realize it doesn't have to be as hard and all-consuming as you think. Does what you've read here feel a little more simple and accessible? Doable even? Like something you could do for more than a week? I would love to hear from you in the comments!