“If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.”
I can’t remember how many times I have heard this quote before but I remember how powerful it was the very first time I read it. It really is true in many aspects of our lives and it is especially true when it comes to losing weight or body fat or blubber or whatever you want to call it.
When I’m not fasting, I plan to eat 5 meals a day – not snacks but meals. Do you know how daunting of a task that is for a person who spends 2.5 hours in commuting time, work a full time job; take care of the husband, the dog, and myself; go to the gym three times a week; put in some kind of “light” workout (I put in the quotations because sometimes my light activities are not so light anymore) on the days I don’t go to the gym; etc. etc. So, when I was first learning more about losing the ever elusive belly fat and learned that I had to eat 5-6 (six meals is mostly for the men who have higher calorie requirements – lucky them!) meals a day, I knew I had to make some adjustments and cough up some self-discipline.
This discipline required me to plan a whole week’s worth of meals ahead of time and set a time during the weekend to cut up all the ingredients that I will be cooking throughout the week. So, this is how I do it:
- Thursday: start looking for recipes for 3 different entrees, 1 breakfast, and 2 handy snacks to cook for next week.
- Friday: start a grocery list of my ingredients and check the fridge and pantry for stuff that I already have. Go grocery shopping
- Saturday afternoon: cut up all the vegetables and cook one entree for dinner.
- Sunday afternoon: cook two more snacks that I can take to work besides leftovers
- Monday and Wednesdays (non-gym days): Cook the other two entrees.
I realize that it looks like I do a lot of cooking which I do but it doesn’t take much of my time because I already cut up all my vegetables on Saturday night. At the same time, my snacks need very little cooking time or no cooking at all.
After buying Precision Nutrition recently, I actually had to take out my food processor because I had to cut up a LOT of vegetables. I remember not having any success with this kitchen equipment because I thought that I can put whole vegetables in there — wrong! While I still have to cut my vegetables into small enough pieces so that they can get cut up into even smaller pieces, I do save a fair amount of time IF I’m cutting all my vegetables at the same time. But, if I only need to cut one or two vegetables then, a knife and a cutting board will be sufficient. To give you an idea of how much vegetables I prepare during the weekend, see the picture on the left side.
Also, take note that I own an inexpensive food processor like this one from Black and Decker (it was actually free from mom…lol).
After preparing all my ingredients for the rest of the week, I don’t have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen during the week. All I need is to throw in all the ingredients in the pan or skillet and I have a meal in less than 20 minutes. Here is an example of my menu from Gourmet Nutrition:
- Saturday, Entree 1: Asian Chicken Veggie Stir Fry
- Monday, Entree 2: Braised Beef in a Red Wine Sauce
- Wednesday, Entree 3: Peruvian Chicken
- Snack 1: 1 apple with 1 cup plain yogurt and half a scoop protein powder (no cooking time)
- Snack 2: Mixed Nut Bar from Gourmet Nutrition (only takes 20 minutes to prepare and bake)
- Breakfast: Oatmeal Pancakes or Spinach and Mushroom Omelet
This menu would be enough for me and my husband to eat 5-6 meals a day because I would also double the amount of ingredients required in the recipes. This way, I can take left overs to work for lunch or a snack.
I pretty much stock up on Spinach in my fridge because I can alway use them in my omelet or in a salad. Because of that, I have to find ways to keep it fresh. So, I remember learning this technique from my roommate in college who grew up in a farm. Basically, I wash the Spinach all at once then, drain the water from it as much as I can. After that, I lay 2-3 pieces of paper towel on the kitchen counter and wrap the spinach in the napkin. Then, it goes in a big Ziploc bag. If you prepare your Spinach this way, it stays fresh in the fridge for about 2 weeks (possibly longer).
So now that I have taken you through my food preparation strategies, you might be feeling overwhelmed – don’t be. I didn’t start out doing all these meal preparations right away. I started with small, baby steps which eventually became a habit. I can come up with many excuses not to prepare my meals but those excuses won’t do me any good. They would just prevent me from reaching my goals and living a healthier lifestyle. As for you, you can doing one habit today or this weekend such as preparing a healthy snack, stick to it for a few weeks.
If you want to jumpstart your way to weight loss by cooking and eating healthier meals, here are two free downloadable e-books from Precision Nutrition: