What We Always Have In Our Kitchen
Preparation is arguably one of the most important attributes of success. And I think that applies to just about every definition of success; whether it’s landing your dream job, acing a final, or finally achieving your goal weight. It all starts with being prepared.
I will be the first to admit that I am one-thousand percent an over-preparer. I plan out my weeks, day by day, and write everything out in my planner. I study due-dates, plan the best time to do things, and never stray away from that agenda. Is it a blessing or a curse? I like to think both. I will also admit that I haven’t always been this prepared. My first year of college was a struggle and I had to grasp the importance of time-management, very quickly. As I am in the middle of my fourth and final year, I realize how much I have changed from my 18-year old, unprepared self and how incredibly important it is to be prepared.
Preparation leads to confidence and confidence leads to success. When you know something like the back of your hand, whether you’ve studied it or lived it, you have the confidence to use it. I have never failed an exam that I studied for, I didn’t necessarily get an A (or a B) but I did not fail. The same concept applies to your diet, meaning the food you eat every single day. I have never skipped lunch, binged or opted for fast food when I prepare food and meals. It took me quite a while to figure this out, but it’s truly the only reason I finally stopped grazing, “dieting,” and shoving my face with everything in sight.
If tupperware and broccoli come to mind when you think “meal prep” then congratulations, you’ve officially witnessed the glorious #fitfam for yourself. All jokes aside, there is nothing wrong with portioning out every single meal and sticking to broccoli and rice. If that is what meal prepping looks like for you and if that is what you enjoy doing, then by all means do it. Personally, I get way too bored and really enjoy switching things up day by day. So if you’re thinking, “How the heck do you plan your meals if you don’t prepare them??” Let me begin by saying, yes it is quite confusing and it’s not the easiest to explain, but that all changes with one word: staples
Pantry staples, kitchen staples, refrigerator staples – all of our food necessities!
I’ve been wanting to explain our weekly routine for quite a while but I wanted to make sure I could explain it in a way that makes complete and total sense. To start, I thought it would be best to break it down and draw out our personal situation/lifestyle:
- Feeding 2 people, both in which love to eat and workout 5-6 times a week
- We eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home/work
- We grocery shop on the weekend for the upcoming week
- We use our Sam’s Club membership (/Costco) to buy in bulk
- We freeze what we don’t use for that week for the upcoming week – *freezing is key for saving money (ex: I buy our ground turkey in 2, 2.5 pound containers so I freeze one for the following week)
- We try to eat left overs/carry meals over at east once a week (ex: making 2.5 pound of ground turkey for dinner can make for two nights of taco bowls)
Our situation might be very different from your situation, and that is a-okay. I want to show you how we plan our grocery shopping, what we need to buy, and what we make with it. A few things to keep in mind:
- We eat a lot of the same things, hence why these are our food staples!
- We try to eat as nutritious as possible while working with our budget – so no, we don’t buy all organic.
- I love to cook, and I especially love to cook for Chad so making dinner every night (or every other) is a no brainer for me.
- We love experimenting, creating, and just going by flavor – you will notice some of my pantry items might not have any rhyme or reason, but that’s what I love about working with basics – you never know what you can come up with!
Again, my interests and my lifestyle might be completely different from yours, but you can still plan and create very healthy meals with very simple basics. Once you start, you’ll find your rhythm and will never want to stop. Believe it or not, I get all of our grocery shopping done in under 30 minutes and without a list! I found what works for us, what foods we truly love eating, and how to make a few different dishes with these simple ingredients. We don’t eat the same exact meals every single week, like last week I made chili with our ground turkey and this week I’m making taco bowls – same staples, just different meals.
Grocery Stapes for Balanced & Healthy Meals All Week
A balance of protein, fats, and complex carbohydrates at each meal is the recipe for weight loss, muscle building, and the healthiest you success. We buy a few different varieties of each macronutrient and some items can even be categorized as more than one; such as quinoa being a complex carbohydrate that is also a complete protein, so I will break it down into categories that we use when creating a complete, balanced meal.
Protein: Beef, Poultry, Fish & Supplements
As you might know, protein is essential for building muscle, tissues, and aids in a number of really important functions in the body. Protein is necessary for building enzymes (help to break down food), hormones, and found in each and every molecular cell. If you can seem to wrap your head around the nitty-gritty details, it’s okay and just remember the basics: protein is lower in calories than fat (4 cals./gram compared to 9cals./gram), builds strong muscles, and will keep you feeling fuller longer by shutting off hunger hormones.
Protein plays a big role in my diet and I try to consume around 25-30g per meal. On days that I go to the gym and lift heavy, I will make sure that my protein is a bit higher for the day. We like to get our protein from hormone/antibiotic free animal sources, plant sources, and supplements such as protein powder. Our general rule is: real food first, supplements second.
Our favorite sources of protein for the week:
- Eggs – We love having 12+ hard boiled eggs made at the beginning of the week. I will eat them for breakfast or on a salad for lunch
- Fish – Tilapia, Salmon, Cod
- Shrimp – Perfect for a salad!
- Chicken Breasts/Tenders
- Ground Turkey (90/10) – So versatile and easy to whip up! We love making burgers and taco bowls
- Ground Beef (90/10) – The ultimate Healthy Chili Recipe
- Whey Protein Powder – Optimum Nutrition, MRM
- Protein Bars – RXbar, Oatmega Bar, & The Perfect Bar
Carbohydrates: Fruits, Vegetables, Legumes, & Grains
Our #1 source of energy and #1 in my heart
I love carbs and carbs love me. And I know they get such a bad rap, but I’m hoping there is a shift in that mindset and people start showing them the love they deserve! There is a huge difference between simple and complex carbohydrates, yet so many people just categorize them together and stay clear of them completely.
Simple carbohydrates, such as sugary treats and processed white bread, have little to no nutritional value. They cause a high spike in insulin level, promote fat storage, and leave you feeling fatigued and craving more! On the contrary, complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, beans, and vegetables contain a great amount of nutrients and are packed with fiber. I don’t want to call them good or bad, because I do enjoy treats from time to time, but I will call them beneficial and not beneficial. Simple carbs do nothing for your body; they don’t build muscle, they don’t release fat-burning hormones, and they don’t give you tons of energy – well, long-term energy (hello sugar rush!). They might taste good, but that’s the extent of their job. Complex carbs can aid in the muscle building process and can help you achieve your weight loss goals; I’ll take that one!
Here are our favorite carbohydrate sources:
- Whole grain tortilla wraps – Our exact wraps!
- Whole grain pasta – sprouted is our fav – thank you Celine!
- Oats – Steel cut, gluten free, quick oats
- Rice – brown, basmati, jasmine
- Sweet Potatoes – *Over baked sweet potatoes are the greatest & truly natures candy: Bake for 1-1.5 hours at 375ºF, cut down the middle and serve!
- Black Beans
- Kale, Spinach – organic salad mix
- Broccoli, Cauliflower, or Brussels Sprouts
- Raw Carrots
- Bananas – Freeze when too ripe for smoothies!
Healthy Fats: Oils, Seeds, & Butters
Last but certainly not least, fats
I get it – eating fat while trying to lose fat, sounds a little counter productive – I get it! But there is a difference between healthy dietary fats, and the stored fat in your body. It’s important to note, if you eat too much of anything, it can be stored as fat. Too much protein doesn’t mean more muscle – it means you might gain some fat.
Dietary fat is broken down into fatty acids in the body and is essential for hormone production, cognitive function, and maintaining a healthy heart. There are many different types of fat including saturated fats (hard at room temperature such as butter or coconut oil), monounsaturated fats (avocados, nuts, oils) and polyunsaturated fats (omega-3-6-9, salmon, nuts, oils). Each beneficial to the body when incorporated into a well balanced meal and diet. For more information on healthy fats and their benefits, here is one of my favorite articles to reference: Types of Fat – The Nutrition Source
Our favorite fats that don’t make us fat:
- Peanut Butter – nut butters
- Coconut Oil – unrefined
- Grass-Fed Butter
- Cheese – Feta, mozzarella, parmesan
- Olive Oil – cold processed
- Nuts – macadamia nuts, pistachios, almond, cashews, brazil nuts
- Chia Seeds
- Flax Meal – ground flax seed
I never loved routine until I fell in love with my routine. I went through a lot of trial and error diets and meal plans just trying to figure out mybody and what works for my lifestyle. With my current job situation, I don’t have time to prepare lunch at noon, but I do have time to prepare it at 7 a.m. before I leave. When I get home at 5:30, sometimes the last thing I want to do is cook, so creating really easy meals with the food that I have has been a game changer for me. These little changes are what truly made the biggest difference in my eating and weight loss. I plan ahead and prepare each meal that I’m going to have for the day.
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