Today is officially the day when most people are likely to give up on their New Year’s resolutions according to research conducted by Strava, (the social network for athletes), which discovered that today, Friday, January 12 is the fateful day when the motivation to stay on track with our resolutions may begin to falter. 12 days people. We only make it 12 days? Come on. We are better than that aren’t we?
The new year is a perfect time to wipe the slate clean and start again from where ever we stand. During the first week of the new year, we see friends and acquaintances posting their new year’s goals on social media – shouting it from the virtual rooftop so everyone knows their intentions so that in some way, this will keep them on track. But this week, it has been very quiet out in social media land and I guess now we know why! We bail on our goals so quickly – and it is a well known fact that it takes exactly 21 days to break or create a habit. Ask any trainer, they will tell you this is true. (that is why they call it “21 day fix” and not 12 day fix).
A couple years ago I followed 21 day fix, last year I adopted a vegan lifestyle and this year I have committed to Wheat Belly. I don’t look at these as “Fad” diets, I see them more as programs that are really good at teaching us what healthy eating really means and the importance of an actual lifestyle change over a “quick fix”. They teach us about portioning, watching unintentional carb intake and avoiding foods that will ultimately kill us. (Yes, this is a little morbid, but its important for us 40+ crowd to start paying attention to what could seriously take us down over the next 20 years). A common theme among all of these programs is that, if you don’t prepare, you will fail.
So here it is – some of my tried and true food prep ideas that will keep you on track in the new year – investing a few hours on the weekend will set you up for success for the entire week!
1. Chop your fresh veggies & greens NOW, not later: When you get home from the grocery store, don’t put your produce away right away, because you will forget about it. Instead, spread all fresh produce out on the counter, clean it and then start chopping & storing. Place prepared veggies & greens into individual containers and stack them in your fridge. This will take hours off your meal prep time during the week and make your fresh veggies one of the most desirable “convenience” foods in your kitchen.
2. The Mason Jar should be your new best friend. Every week – I fill my fridge with mason jars that are layered with freshly chopped veggies and greens. Why mason jars you ask? Well, its quite simple. We eat with our eyes. When you open the fridge and see layers of fresh “grab and go” options, you will go for it. If its hidden in a coated plastic container, you can’t see it and therefore you may not eat it. Mason jars are so convenient because they have a secure screw top, allowing you to take salads & fresh produce anywhere. I can throw a jar in my purse and be out the door in less than 2 minutes. Its not too uncommon to find me sitting in the pick up lane at school chowing down on greens in a mason jar. Not as weird as it sounds I promise! If you don’t have mason jars, I urge you to seek out your local thrift store or look online for used mason jars – you can usually get them for $1 a piece.
3. Prep your meals. There are lots of recipes and resources online that will give you meal prep inspiration, but here are a few of my most useful week night time savers:
- Grill or sauté a variety of veggies such as onions, mushrooms, asparagus, peppers, broccoli & cauliflower to use in morning omelettes, afternoon salads or dinner time stir fry’s. Taking this step out of the process will save at least 10-15 minutes for every meal.
- Pre-make sauces – Tomato sauce, Alfredo sauce, pesto sauce, thai sauces (find some of my favorite home made sauce recipes here)
- Make pasta ahead of time: Boil, drain & rinse with cool water until room temperature. Toss with 1 TB oil – store in the fridge for 1 week or more! I have done this with brown rice pasta, quinoa pasta, chick pea pasta and lentil pasta. It all works.
- Make rice ahead of time: store in an airtight container with a bit of water in the mix to keep it from hardening. When you are ready to make a veggie stir fry you throw in what you need without the extra 20 minutes for cooking raw rice.
- Put a variety of beans together in a jar (or container) with sautéed onions and seasonings for a quick chili night. Just dump it in a pan and heat it up. Bam. You have chili for dinner.
- Chop fresh veggies and put them into “stackable & snack sized” containers. I do this with fresh carrots, celery, fruits and more!
4. Make a menu every week and stick to it. This is very important. Prep your meals with a menu in mind. If you are prepping for meals that you don’t have in mind, chances are you won’t use it. Try something like this:
Day 1 Sample Menu:
Breakfast: Swiss Breakfast (see recipe at the end of this section)
Lunch: Mason jar salad (already prepped in the fridge)
Snack: Celery & peanut butter (already prepped in fridge)
Dinner: Veggie & black beans Tacos
Food Prep: Grilled veggies, portioned out canned black beans (or make ahead in the crock pot), chop fresh toppers such as tomato, onion, corn, cilantro & lime and store in a small container.
With this prep already completed, dinner is served in 15 minutes: Grill corn tortillas or soft shell tacos (5 min) + heat prepped foods (5 min) + assembly of tacos (5 min) = 15 minutes.
Breakfast is one of the hardest things to prepare for. We are limited to fruit and yogurt or frozen breakfast sandwiches unless we find recipes that make it interesting. This recipe was my go-to breakfast for YEARS when I worked a 9-5 office job and it never got tired. Now I’m sharing it with you! Enjoy!
Swiss Breakfast: Hearty make ahead breakfast
Ingredients: 2 1/2 cups of dry rolled oats | 1 1/4 cups of milk (dairy or non-dairy) | 2 1/2 cups of greek yogurt | 5TB maple syrup or raw honey | Nut & dried fruit trail mix or berries
Step 1: Line up 5 mason jars or 2 cup containers
Step 2: Add 1/2 cup of dry rolled oats in each container
Step 3: Add 1/4 cup of milk (dairy or non-dairy)
Step 3: Top with 1/2 cup of greek yogurt
Step 4: Add 1 TB maple syrup or raw honey
Step 5: Top with trail mix (I use Trader Joes Omega Trek Mix) and/or fresh berries
Step 6: Seal and store in the fridge for the entire week!
I hope after reading this post, it will help you stay on track with your diet goals for the new year. Looking forward to seeing how all of this works for you – please leave your comments below!