Grocery Shopping

Here’s a Quick Way to Eat a Healthy Dinner

What meal do you struggle with the most when it comes to eating healthy and losing weight?

For me it’s always been late afternoon/nighttime eating. I don’t know why. I do pretty well throughout the day. I eat a healthy breakfast, snack, lunch, and then 3 or 4pm rolls around and I want to munch on candy at work. Then after dinner I get the munchies and want dessert. It’s easy to get sucked into a routine of nighttime eating if I’m not careful. Checkout some of my old posts about snacking:

Smart Snacking Tips

Nighttime Eater

Snacking is Not Bad

If you’re like me, the mindless munching and snacking is also your downfall when it comes to staying on track. So what do we do about it?

Have Healthy Options Available

It’s pretty simple: if you don’t have junk food in your house, you probably won’t eat it. If it takes too much effort to go to the store to buy some junk food, I just don’t want to bother. So it goes to reason that if you have healthy foods in your house, that’s what you will eat. Make it easy for yourself!

Frozen salmon and shrimp – we buy them at Costco and freeze them. It takes 20 minutes to defrost them and it’s usually our go-to fast dinner.

Frozen chicken – also bought at Costco. We fluctuate between chicken thighs and boneless, skinless breasts. Michael is pretty good about taking proteins out of the freezer each week and they defrost in the fridge for a quick dinner.

Canned soups – soup and salad are my go-to meals when I’m home alone or just feeling lazy. I have cans and boxes of soup on hand always and it makes it an easy dinner for not a ton of calories. I like getting the boxes of soup from Trader Joe’s; they are healthy, delicious, low in calories and usually organic.

One thing I wish I could do is something I’ve been seeing on the internet lately. People are making crockpot meals, putting them in a ziplock with instructions listed on the bag, freezing them and when it’s time to cook it they defrost it and dump it in the crockpot. It sounds like such an easy, efficient thing to do to make sure I have healthy options available for QUICK meals. Some bloggers are even doing it for an entire month! The problem? We have a tiny freezer and no room to do that. Someday I will do it, though!

Take 1 Hour to Prep

I usually go grocery shopping on Sundays and I spend about 30-60 minutes after I unpack everything to prep. It’s so much easier to just get it out of the way and have everything READY for the week. I slice celery and carrots and put them in tupperware, I wash all the fruit and sometime make pre-packaged serving sizes of snacky things (Wheat Thins, dried fruit, nuts, etc).

snacks1

Make it an Easy Formula

Long ago, Michael and I seemed to naturally fall into a simple formula for dinner:

PROTEIN + VEGETABLE + SALAD

Now make your own formula. It doesn’t have to be exactly like what we do. Maybe it’s something like this:

PROTEIN + VEGETABLE + RICE/POTATOES
PROTEIN + VEGETABLE + FRUIT
PROTEIN + SALAD + CARB 

So what are some examples? It could really be an endless list. There are so many healthy options you can choose if you just put a little time in to meal planning. 

Grilled halibut with mango salsa, a green salad and a baked potato

Blackened chicken breast with quinoa and steamed carrots

A serving of spaghetti noodles with marinara, homemade turkey meatballs and a spinach salad

Whatever works for YOU. Maybe you hate rice, try couscous. Maybe you are vegetarian, try alternatives.

salad1

The point is to figure out your formula and STICK TO IT. You can come up with a million variations and having something basic like this really does make it easy. It makes it easy to cook, it makes it easy to calculate calories, and it makes it easy to grocery shop if you’re buying pretty much the same things each week.

Recipes don’t have to be complicated. Dinners really CAN take less than 20 minutes to prepare. Meal planning doesn’t have to be boring–in fact, it makes it so much easier to go grocery shopping and stay within a budget when you have a plan.

What are your quick and healthy dinners?

Comfort in Sickness

When I was sick with that nasty cold the week before Thanksgiving, I went to the grocery store for three things: cold medicine to knock me out, a big jug of Odwalla orange juice and a carton of ice cream. I won’t lie. When I’m sick I immediately want comfort food. I want soup–tomato or chicken broth and noodles. I want carbs like bread. And I want ice cream. I told myself it was because I had a sore throat and the ice cream would feel good on my raw throat (true) but it was also just me reverting back to older times when I used food to feel better.

The good news was that I didn’t have much of an appetite while I was sick, and couldn’t really taste most of the food so I was within my calorie range each day. To be honest, I counted my calories but didn’t care about them too much. I was under 2000 and that was fine with me.  So while I did indulge in some ice cream, I didn’t go completely crazy.

I also took about 5 days off from the gym. It was a long time for me! I can’t remember the last time I took that much time off in a row. I found that laying around watching tv for a week with my box of kleenex, glass of orange juice and bottle of Nyquil made my body hurt. The lack of activity felt weird. Every time I got up and moved around I felt it in my joints and my muscles felt weak. It was not fun!

Thankfully I don’t get sick too often now. I usually get a cold in February or March and then October or November. So I was right on schedule. 🙂 When I lost my weight and got healthy, including a regular exercise program, the constant sicknesses that I had went away. I used to be sick all the time. I had at least one or two outbreaks of bronchitis a year on top of colds and general malaise. Losing weight and eating healthy most definitely improved my immune system!

I was too sick to care that I was picking up my old habit of using ice cream to make myself feel better. Once I felt better, I thought about what I did. Why was it so easy to revert back? Why are old habits so easy to pick back up? Laziness? I don’t know.

I also wanted to check in with all of you guys. Did you read my post: Nutritional Challenges and a Challenge? Did you take me up on my challenge? And if yes, how did it go?

So what about you? When you’re sick, do you give in to comfort foods to make yourself feel better?