January thru April in the Purol household is a special, Westernized, first-world-problem version of hell. Z. is an accountant so he easily works 12 hour days, and I work full time, as well as taking 3 classes this semester. When you combine it with the stress we are both under, and the fact we are pretty lazy, this can be a minefield for unhealthy eating and weight gain.
So, how do we avoid this and manage to lose weight? For the low purchase price of $7.99… just kidding. I tell all my secrets for free on the internet. Seriously through, this is how we handle working the hours we do, get me through school, and try to eat at home often.
Disclaimer: Z. and I both love to eat, but we also both love to cook. This works for us in part because of the dynamic of shared housework and cooking.
Step 1 – I created a Pinterest board ages ago called Week of Recipes. Throughout the week, I pin recipes that look good or anything I want to make that week to the board. Looks like this:
Step 2 – Friday evening or Saturday morning, I write out a menu and make a grocery list. The menu then goes on the command center. Everything is written out – breakfast, lunches, and dinner – plus when we are eating out. If we are making something from a cookbook, the name of the cookbook and the page number is written out beside the item. If nothing is written down, then Z. knows to go to my Pinterest board for the recipe. Also, if something needs to be marinated, that is noted on the menu.
So, for this week, the menu looks like this:
Breakfasts: This is pretty standard for us. I do a shake almost every day, just the fruit changes with the season and Z. does an omelet.
Lunches: Here we add some variety. Mason jar salads and soup. This week: Salads – pomegranate and pear arugula salad (2), chef salad (3), Italian salad (3) southwest salad (2). We have made these a ton, so no need to pin these. But if I was trying something new, on the Pinterest board it would go. Soups – This week we are adding in the two soups you see on the board.
The exception is the weekend. Saturday I am home while Z works, and Sunday we do brunch.
So this Saturday, I will have the roasted chickpea kale salad, which you can see pinned to the board.
Dinner: I am in class on M and W nights, so I make our menu to reflect the fact that we won’t be home until about 8pm on those days. This means we always do either leftovers from the previous night or a crockpot recipe. Always. When we don’t, we end up eating taco bell. #grownup.
- Sunday: Black bean chili
- Monday: Leftover black bean chili, side salad, crème brulee grapefruit
- Tuesday: Vegetarian shepherd’s pie, pan sauteed peas, side salad
- Wednesday: leftover shepherd’s pie, California blend steamed veggies, side salad
- Thursday: small group so we eating out
- Friday: baked chicken thighs, oven roasted frozen broccoli, oven roasted Brussels sprouts
- Saturday: Sesame glazed salmon with green beans, rice
Be sure to include any snacks you want for the week.
After I make my menu, I write out our grocery list. If you do not have as regimented a schedule as we do, just write out 5 to 7 dinners. You don’t have to assign a meal to each day.
Step 3 – Sunday is meal prep day. It is our only full day together and we savor it. Z. and I go to church, followed by brunch, and then grocery shopping and food prep, usually while watching some sports thing.
What do we mean by food prep? Typically, all fruit is washed and prepackaged for snacks, lettuce and salad vegetables are chopped up and prepared for the week’s salads, the lunch soups are made and put away in the fridge for the week, as are the mason jar salads.
We go to bed Sunday night with a clear plan for the week and all lunches made.
Step 4 – enjoy. Every night before bed, Z. makes my shake and I double check the menu, pulling out any meat that needs to defrost or putting together any marinades that need to be made.
I know it sounds complicated and a lot of work upfront, but once you get it working for you, this type of system is amazing. We know what we are going to be cooking, we know we have all the ingredients, and that every night we go to bed knowing lunch is covered for the next day. It makes for a very relaxed (and healthy) week. It also helps keep us on budget because there are no “emergency” trips to the grocery store or grabbing food on the way home.