It has been a while since I felt up to writing a regular Blog story. I am sorry if you were missing me and my writing, I needed a break. I was on a really good streak there, for over a year. Some people write their Blog stories ahead of time. I usually sit down and pound it out on the keyboard right before I publish. It could be an hour more or less, and I usually come up with a title, topic, and story. This week I am going to share something a little different in Trust Your Gut: Tish’s Story. Part 57 Prep Cooking Tips is going to be a top 5 list of my own Prep Cooking Tips!
I have written about the importance of prep cooking in my own journey to become a healthier version of myself. I have found that I am less likely to eat unhealthy if I take the time to prepare healthy choices for my lunches, and sometimes even breakfasts and suppers. Everyone deserves a treat now and then, as long as it is within reason. I tend to give an inch and take a mile or ten. So, I know that prep cooking works, and I must get back into the habit of it.
I had plans last weekend but I got sideswiped by an unexpected injury. I was walking, which is supposed to be something that is good for me. I somehow managed to pull some muscles in my foot. I was in a lot of pain for 3 or 4 days. I am taking fewer painkillers now, and hoping that the weekend is nice. I am going to plan a short walk. I have to build up my tolerance a little more slowly, as it has been some time since I walked for longer than it takes to go get groceries. Now that I am on the mend, it is time to start walking a little more each day. It is a plan.
These tips may seem like common sense to more experienced home cooks. I think that if you plan ahead the prep cooking will go more smoothly than if you don’t.
1. Determine what type of meal you want to cook. Go through recipe books, Pinterest, and websites. Most of your family favourites can be made in bulk and frozen, to reheat or cook when you are ready to eat them. Write down the recipes in a planner for when you are going to eat them if you want to be really organized. People plan meals by the week and month. There are lots of guides for this online, depending on what suits your fancy. Since I am a fan of the Trim Healthy Mama Plan, when I get serious, I will be planning according to their guidelines. You can make this as simple or as complicated as you like. The more effort you put into this, the better results you will get. It is up to you.
2. Now that you have recipes selected, write down your ingredients list. Include everything for each recipe. Then check your cupboards and pantry for the ingredients that you have on hand, and cross them off the list. The remaining items will become the start of your grocery list. If you are feeling like you have extra time, go through the fridge and cupboards and toss the expired items. It will be better to replace them before starting the cooking step, and finding that you need to get more of something that is mouldy or gone bad.
3. Next, you will need to think about utensils, pots, pans and storage. Do you have what you need to prepare and store what you will be cooking? This limits me a bit. We are a household of 2 adults. We live in a mini home. There is not a lot of storage in my kitchen. I have had to become creative with storage methods. I have 2 shelving units and a bookcase in my kitchen. They work for now. I also prefer glass containers for anything that needs reheating later on. So the plastic storage is available, but not used for prep cooking storage, unless it is something that will not be going into a microwave. I also use more Mason jars than I have room to keep organized. They are another way to store soups, salad in a jar, and pantry items.
4. Go to the grocery store to get what you need. This can be pricey the first few times if you are starting from scratch. If you are on a budget, use coupons and flyers. Get as many deals as you can. If you have like-minded friends, TEAM UP! If you have 3 friends to join in, and you all buy enough for 4 batches of a different recipe, then you have 4 meals prepped, and you will have CHOICES! Working together with friends to make homemade healthy meals is a great way to have a productive social gathering! Take turns hosting once or twice a month. Make it a THING, and make it FUN! Have snacks. Get more done faster, including clean up! (This can also be teenagers if they are a part of your family. They won’t be able to help with the budget, but they would be happy to help if it means they get some cookies or a movie night aw a thank you!
5. Don’t Give Up! Start with one recipe, doubled up. Then make something different the next time. Keep building recipes until you have a good variety, and you don’t have to cook for the whole month in one day. Spread out the work over time, and you will have a freezer full of healthy food in a few weeks. When you feel like cooking, make something. When you don’t you have a plan. As long as you keep rotating what you make, it will pay off!
Tonight I made Cheeseburger Pie for supper. It is in a 9 x 13 pan. It serves 6 to 8 people. There are 2 of us. When I have it for supper, I have 2 pieces. When I have it for lunch, I have 1 piece. I will have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. I plan to freeze one or two portions, for whenever I am craving a burger. Sometimes you just want that burger so bad…that it is good to plan ahead and have a cheeseburger pie portion in the freezer ready to heat and eat. When I want a BigMac or a Mozza Burger, I make Big Mac Salad. With cheddar, it is a BigMac SALAD, and with Mozza, it is an amazing Mozza Burger SALAD. No buns makes it a salad! I even put the sesame seeds on top!
BigMac Salad for Lunch
In case you aren’t on my Facebook, and you want to know what Cheeseburger Pie is, I am going to share a link to the recipe. It can be found with other recipes on the Trim Healthy Mama website, and if you check out the recipe, you can also take a look at the THM plan and other recipes. They even have products for sale there. I am not affiliated, so I leave things up to you. I love the recipes, and I also am happy that I know it is a plan that does work for me WHEN I WORK THE PLAN!
This week, in Trust Your Gut: Tish’s Story; #53 Me vs the Bathroom Scale. It’s Complicated, I am going to share that yes, I did get on the scale. It was not a good thing that I saw. Not the highest number ever, but certainly not a good one, either. A teeny tiny voice tried to tell me that it was muscle because I went to Zumba yesterday. I know better. It is because I have been into things that I shouldn’t be.
I am my own worst enemy. I know what I need to do to fix my weight issues. I choose the wrong things and I am not happy about it. I don’t have guilt, per se, but I do the same thing over and over again.
I was on the right track last week. Then I ran into hormones and temptations. I saw the results of that when I got on the scale this morning. it was not a good number.
In my defense, I am not perfect. I am allowed to make mistakes. I am human. They add up though, and I see the results when I get on the scale. So how do I deal with it? There are really only 2 options.
I can do nothing, be miserable, get that happy out of whatever I am eating that is not healthy because I am eating my feelings, not the food that I put in my mouth, or I can change. Change is hard. I have been known to make changes rather suddenly in the past, though, and I am not entirely afraid of change. Let’s look at it in terms of beverages.
I have been drinking coffee quite regularly for a few years. I added it in when I gave up Diet Coke. That used to be my main source of caffeine. As a diabetic, we are told to drink diet pop instead of regular pop. The experts say that it is better to drink it because the aspartame is better for a diabetic than sugar. Sugar is bad, and there is a lot of sugar in regular pop. (If you aren’t used to the term pop, it is what we call soda in Canada). I am not writing to slam diet Coke alone, I am slamming aspartame. I have been in better health without it. It was a personal choice, and in reality, if I can’t have Zevia (pop sweetened with Stevia), then I should be drinking water, or cashew milk, or a THM beverage. I do drink regular pop sometimes. I have found myself excusing it because I am eating unhealthy, so the healthy pop is a waste, I will just have regular pop. Like that makes any sense at all. In my morbidly obese mind, I have concocted this reason to do something that is unhealthy for me to do and attempted to justify it. I need an intervention. What the what? As I write this, I am shaking my own head. Nope, that does not make sense.
Coffee. I used to put things in my coffee. Then one day, I started drinking my coffee black. I knew it was healthier to drink the coffee straight up. Since adding the Shrinker with the oolong tea, I am actually noticing a difference in my alertness after they are both in me. So I have made some changes that are having a positive impact, and they were decided upon rather quickly. These decisions I have no regrets about.
How did I handle the number on the scale today? Badly. I had takeout for lunch, and a bottle of wine this evening. It was good wine, at least. I now am getting ready to chase it with an electrolyte-rich beverage because I do have to work tomorrow, and I want to be functional. (Rapido Red Italian wine is really good for the price I paid. It was on sale) I have started drinking Bio-Steel from GNC for Zumba, and I really like it. It is a sugar-free sports drink. It is sweetened with beets, and it is pink. So I am having a Bio Steel “chaser” before bed. Hey, I can start making better choices now, I don’t have to wait for Monday or tomorrow.
Trust Your Gut is Starting Fresh this week! As you might know, if you read my Blog post yesterday, I had a bit of bad news, and I was struggling to deal with it. I was upset and had my moments to deal with it, and like I wrote yesterday, I focused on the good things in my life, rather than dwelling on the bad news. I am happy to say that it worked. Did it ever!
The old me would have dwelled in the negativity. The old me would have scrounged the house for junk food or anything that remotely resembled junk food. The old me would have wallowed in a pity party for one, and she might not have even let a new day snap her out of it.
With that one story yesterday, I changed my attitude. I had 4 pounds of ground beef in the fridge, and a whole chicken, all ready to cook. When I am trying to do better, I plan to cook, and sometimes the food spoils before I get to it. I decided yesterday was going to be a cooking day.
Roy, my husband, does not always like to eat on plan with me when I am making healthy food. It is challenging, as sometimes I have to cook different things. Sometimes we compromise, like when I make spaghetti sauce, he has regular pasta, and I now prefer spaghetti squash. I really do, because I do not get sleepy like I do after eating regular pasta. I like eating food that is healthy and tastes good. Trim Healthy Mama, or THM, is a plan that has an abundance of recipes for making healthy food that tastes good.
I am still drinking the Shrinker 5 days a week. I need to make some GGMS for the weekend. I need to have something other than pop to drink. I like the Shrinker. The last batch I made did not get consumed quickly enough. I have a glass pitcher with a spout to make it in. That is another plan for the weekend. If it is easily accessible, I am more likely to drink it. I have shared the recipes before, and the originals can be found at the THM website, under the recipes tab. There are also quite a few food Bloggers for THM, and Pinterest is loaded with THM recipes.
I cooked all of that meat last night. I took my disappointment, frustration, and discouragement, and turned into something productive. I cooked 1 pound of the beef and made Hamburger Helper for Roy. He had that last night for supper and today for lunch. I cooked the other 3 pounds together. I cooked it with a package of onion soup mix. (So good!) I scooped about a pound and set it aside for Big Mac Salad. I took the remaining 2 pounds and made Cheeseburger Pie. Before I started this, I used my favourite rub to get the chicken in the slow cooker. You can find it here. Tonight, we will be eating chicken for supper. It is ready to go! Roy will probably make a chicken sandwich for work tomorrow.
I have leftovers to heat and eat, for the next few days. I am proud that I did something productive last night. I needed to distract myself, and I did just that. Most of what I made is on plan too, with a few compromises for Roy to have something to eat as well. All in all, I think I am on my way to snapping out of the winter blues as a result of it. It is lighter in the morning and the evening, and it is making a difference in how I feel. Bring on Spring! This is why I called this week’s story a Fresh Start! I am ready to get things going in the right direction again!
Trust Your Gut this week is going to be positive. I got on the scale again, and I am down from my trip in the wrong direction. I was down a pound less than since the last time I checked and was going the right way again. It went a little wrong there, for a bit. I am finally starting to get things going in the right direction, again.
I think it does have to do with me packing more lunches and eating at home more. Not that I always eat the healthiest things, but there is more control when you are making things for yourself.
I am probably starting to adapt to my new schedule. Well, that goes out the window on Sunday. The good news is that I am going to be back to my regular schedule. For now. That can change, and it is one of the things that I will have to adapt to if it does, but I really hope that it works out well for me.
I am figuring things out creatively and using my brain to get results. I have more self-confidence because I am finally starting to believe that I can make the changes I need to change what is happening in my life. I will not change everything all at once, but I notice that I am making a larger effort to do the things that matter again.
Maybe the Shrinker is helping. Ooh, cayenne. Sometimes there is a little too much, and it is hard to make myself drink it. But I force it down if it is too spicy, because it still mostly tastes good, and I do think it is helping. I was also happy to find a new type of chocolate chai tea to add to it when I run out of the tea bags I had in the back of the cupboard. I am starting to use the recipes and knowledge I had learned when I started THM, and I am confident that if I don’t go too far away from it, I will start losing more weight.
Speaking of losing weight, I am kind of upset about one thing. The first place I see it is on my chin when I am retaining fluid, but you will never guess where I seem to lose it first. My fingers, of all places. My ring slid on a little easier today. Now if you remember, being able to wear the engagement ring and my wedding band comfortably on my ring finger is a Non-Scale Victory that I am working towards, and I felt a little bit closer to that goal this morning. Small blessings are not to be taken for granted, even if they seem annoying when you look at the big picture.
This week in Trust Your Gut, I am not sure what to write about. I have done better with food choices. In fact, I tried something new. I bought Green Giant riced cauliflower and sweet potato in the frozen vegetable section of the grocery store, a while back. I am not afraid to try new things, but I will admit that it sat in the freezer for longer than had I intended it to. I had some THM Crispy Lickin’ Chicken Thighs in the oven, so I decided to make this new thing my side dish.
I cooked it in the bag in the microwave. There are stove top directions, but I wasn’t ready to try frying it just yet. I cooked it, and added butter to it and mixed it in. I really liked it. I was full with the chicken and the sweet potato cauliflower rice. I have split it into 2 meals, and have my own healthy “TV dinner” packed in the fridge, ready to heat and eat.
I also finished up the loaded spaghetti squash casserole that I made last week. I had it for lunch at work the last two days. I am not sure if I am going to take the chicken meal for lunch tomorrow, or if it might be a sandwich day. Sometimes I take eggs and scramble them for lunch with cheese. Whatever I bring, I am trying to have healthier choices again.
I have not had Zumba classes this week, but I expect to have some shoveling to do for activity tomorrow. It is called a weather bomb cyclone, and there was a large snowfall warning overnight. It is freezing rain out there now, so I am not sure if there will be any snow to shovel tomorrow or not. I will see in the morning. We have a late start time, and work was closed early today, which is very unusual, that does not happen very often. Neither does a bomb cyclone. It is the first time I have heard of a winter storm with that name.
I am also trying to get more sleep in. It has been a busy December with building the website in all of my free time. Now that it is here, although not finished, it is not the cause of stress to meet the launch deadline. I know that 6 hours of sleep is technically enough to squeak by on, it is not ideal. I am trying to get in more sleep when I can. I don’t want to get sick, and I know I will have a better chance at being healthier if I make sleep more important in my goals for a healthier lifestyle. I have been pushing my limits. I know I need to slow down. Just a little.
The website is launched. The Holidays are over. Now is the time to continue to work on living a healthier lifestyle. I keep working towards my goals. When I start seeing results, it will be just the incentive I need to keep going. My defining word for 2018 is SUCCESS. I plan to make it happen.