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The Secret is Planning & Prepping

Friday, August 12, 2016

I think there are a few secret ingredients to making a healthy lifestyle work. Sure, you need to stay active and eat a healthy whole foods diet. That’s the obvious. Then, you can't ignore healthy relationships, fulfilling career, and faith. It’s what we often refer to as balance. We each need to find a good balance in life. While these are all crucial and important to being healthy, there’s one component that should be revisited weekly. It’s what we refer to as planning and prepping, or food prepping. Yes, it takes a little time, discipline and work, but once it’s done, there’s nothing more rewarding. It’s the KEY to staying on track with this lifestyle. Whether you’re a busy stay at home mama, successful business woman, or all of the above, it will keep you on track with your healthy journey. When I discuss this with clients, I always use the quote, “If you fail to prepare then you can prepare to fail.” In the end it saves on time, energy, money, and last minute poor choices. 

PLAN

This is where it starts. First, you have to budget and designate the time you’re going to accomplish the task at hand. Each week, schedule a time for this and put it in your planner. It’s good to set a time, blocking out at least two hours to get everything accomplished. Make a list of the recipes you plan to make for the next five to seven days, write out the items needed, and keep it on a piece of paper or in the notes section in your phone. Remember, the meals you make can be quick and healthy. Look for simple recipes on www.JennaLento.com, consider a few crock pot meals, and don’t be afraid to cook once and eat twice. I also encourage clients to rotate their meals, so their bodies absorb different nutrients, and also to keep them from getting bored. Keep in mind that you should be sticking to whole food options, very few if any processed options and organic when possible. Once you’ve planned out your meals, put your list together, you’re on your way to a successful week ahead! 

SHOP

Once you’ve mapped out the meals for the week, created your list, and set aside some time, it’s time to hit the grocery store. Before we get into the nitty gritty of shopping, let me say this doesn’t have to be a daunting task. If you’re a busy mom, maybe this is a moment for you to grab a skinny latte, put your earbuds in, and dance through the aisles. Okay, maybe not dance but you get what I’m saying. If you do have kids, this might be a good time to include them. Make a fun game out of shopping, or even use this as a time to encourage their little helping hands to take part in the shopping process. Whether you choose to make grocery shopping enjoyable or not, there are a few guidelines to keep you on track with your choices and budget. More often than not, I’ll have people tell me eating healthy is way too expensive. There is some truth to that. Often, organic and healthier food options can be costly, that is, if you aren’t careful. It's why you need to stick to your list. Think about it. If you aren’t purchasing the extras that you TRULY don't need, you may notice your grocery budget stays the same. I often have clients cut out the processed food choices or pop, switch to whole food options, and notice their grocery bill didn’t really change. The extras add up, so stay away from them. Stick to your list and refrain from wandering down the unnecessary aisles. The general rule of thumb I use includes hitting the outside of the store first. This is where you can stock up on fresh fruit, vegetables, lean meat choices, eggs, and nut milk options. It isn’t that you won’t ever find me down the middle aisles, but I usually stick to the outskirts of the store. Also, when it comes to organic choices, if it’s not in the budget, just stick to what you can afford. You can always utilize the Dirty Dozen Clean 15 list from the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) to guide you on options that can go without being organic. Now that you’ve purchased your whole food options, it’s time to head home and prep right away. Don’t forget your eco-friendly reusable grocery bags!

PREPARE

By now, I know you’re tired and truly just want to stop there. The grocery store was busy, traffic was out of control and you truly just want to enjoy the rest of your Sunday. Let me reassure you that completing this last step will make the week ahead MUCH smoother. It will save you on so much time, energy and work! Unpack those groceries and let’s finish planning and prepping, so you can kick back and relax. Remove the groceries from the bag and sort everything out. If there is anything that needs to be frozen, put it away immediately. From there, preheat the oven, so you can bake your chicken or lean meat of choice. While the oven is preheating, remove all produce from the bags, and wash thoroughly. Pull out the containers or baggies you will store your produce in. Make sure the containers have lids in order to keep the fruits and vegetables fresh for a bit longer. Once you’ve washed everything, begin cutting and chopping. Doing this, will allow you to grab and go throughout the busy week. In the photo above, you can see there are sandwich bags filled with fruits and vegetables. I often prep my smoothie combinations for the week ahead. This way I can dump the bag of health into my Vitamix, add a nut milk of choice or coconut water, blend and enjoy. It takes little to no time at all! So, now that you’ve prepped your produce and neatly organized it in the refrigerator, it’s time to accomplish the protein. I love hardboiled eggs for a breakfast or for a snack on the go. It’s packed with protein, healthy fat and it fills me up! Once the eggs are cooked, remove the shells, rinse, and store in a container in the refrigerator. I like to remove the shells, so I can once again grab and go. The final step is to prep the meat you plan to eat. I usually only prep my meat for the next two-ish days ahead, for obvious reasons. I clean, season, and bake my chicken. If I plan to make chicken salads, I will cut my chicken into cubes. All of this leads to convenience and healthy choices. 

As you can see planning and prepping the food you plan to eat for the week does take some time and work. However, once you’ve completed the task at hand, you will begin to reap the benefits all throughout the week. You will allow yourself to have more time to spend on the things you enjoy, so you don’t have to rush home from work and spend time and energy deciding what to eat and then even more time cooking. It will also prevent you from running through the drive through during those on-the-go days. In the end this leads to better food choices, more time, and success in reaching your health and wellness goals! 

Should you have any questions regarding this post, please feel free to email me at JennaLento1@gmail.com