Friday Five: My 5 Favorite Food Prep Hacks

Happy Friday! One of the things I have a knack for is figuring out the most efficient ways to do things, both inside and outside the kitchen. While I generally enjoy cooking and meal prep, I’m usually working against the clock (and/or my hunger pangs) with getting dinner made, or am prepping a bunch of things for the week ahead and like to streamline the process as much as possible. Through all of my experimenting in the kitchen, I’ve discovered some hacks that make the process a little bit quicker and/or a little more hands off, and wanted to share some of my favorites with you. Here we go!

1.) Preheat your baking sheet.

Did you know that if you preheat your baking sheet along with your oven when roasting veggies, you dont have to flip them half-way through? While this doesn’t time since it still takes the same amount to roast, it does save you from having to pull them out and flip them halfway through.

2.) Chop bell peppers with four cuts from the top down.

Here’s a video I shared on Facebook a few months ago demonstrating this method for cutting bell peppers. Saves a ton of time, especially if you’re chopping a few!

3.) Peel ginger with a spoon instead.

I used to spend so.much.time. trying to use a paring knife to peel ginger, and would end up cutting so much of the ginger itself away instead of just the peel. And then, I discovered that you can peel the skin off ginger by scraping it with a spoon, and only the peel comes off, none of the ginger flesh. Try it!

4.) Hands off hard-boiled eggs.

In general I’m not big of a fan of kitchen tools that just serve one function, but this Go Dash Rapid Egg Cooker was some of the best $20 I ever spent and one that I swear by. I love hard boiled eggs but somehow always managed to mess the timing up when cooking them in a regular pan, either from different sized eggs or user error with the timer. I got the egg cooker about a year ago and use it at least once a week if not more. It makes 6 hard boiled eggs at a time, and there are also options to make omelets, poached, or soft or medium boiled eggs, though I mostly stick with the hard boiled. It’s super simple to use and the eggs cook perfectly every time. I fill the water level to just below where it says “hard boiled” – which leaves the middle of the yolk ever so slightly undercooked and is exactly how I like them.

5.) Heat ‘N Eat Steel Cut Oats.

I wrote a post about the technique way back in 2010 (!), but I love having oatmeal as a breakfast option, and really like steel cut oats, but hate that they take 45 minutes to cook. This method takes a little bit of foresight because you have to get it together the night before, but basically you use a 1:4 ratio of oats to water (so 1 cup oats:4 cups water for 4 servings), bring it to a boil for one minute, and then keep it covered off the heat overnight. In the morning, you just give it a stir and the oats are cooked through and ready to be topped however you like ’em. You can also freeze these cooked oats into individual servings if you want to make a bigger batch (or can’t eat all you made in a few days).

What’s your favorite trick to save time (or effort) in the kitchen?

New Recipe: Lazy (Wo)man’s Chicken Cordon Bleu Stacks

You know those recipes that say they only take 20 minutes, but then you look through them and realize you have to chop, dice, and mince so many things that there’s no chance you’ll be done with the prep in 20 minutes, let alone the dish itself?

Spoiler alert: this is not one of those kinds of recipes, as this was born out of sheer laziness.

I always loved Chicken Cordon Bleu, and have experimented with several versions, most of which take a good amount of time as you pound out the chicken, roll it up with ham and swiss cheese, and then coat it in egg and breadcrumbs carefully before baking. While that version isn’t even that intense in the scheme of things, sometimes there are nights when the last thing I want to do is add another dirty dish to the pile or spend time getting the elements ready for an egg wash and dip in breadcrumbs.

Enter: Lazy (Wo)man’s Chicken Cordon Bleu Stacks

For this dish, it literally takes less than 2 minutes to prep and will only dirty one thing in the process – your baking sheet (and perhaps your hands). It’s hard to even call this a recipe because it’s so simple, but it’s one I put into my rotation at least once a month, so without further ado…

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 pounds of thin sliced chicken breast
  • 1 package sliced ham
  • 1 package swiss cheese
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Lay your thin sliced chicken breasts out on a baking sheet with foil or a nonstick baking sheet (this is the one I have and LOVE)

3. Season with salt and pepper on both sides of the chicken breast

4. Place a slice or two of ham over each chicken breast

5. Place a slice of swiss cheese over each chicken and ham

6. Place in preheated oven for 18 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through

And that’s it! I usually have one or two pieces of chicken over a salad or with some kind of veggie and/or rice/potato on the side. I’ve also been known to eat leftovers cold/straight from the fridge (am I supposed to admit that?) or on a sandwich. Super simple, quick, and tasty!

What’s your go-to recipe for a quick & easy weeknight meal?

My Career Journey: Part One

When I was little, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, hands down, I’d tell you a talk show host. If probed further about who I wanted to emulate, I’d tell you Ricky Lake. These days, I may be more inclined to go with Ellen DeGeneres, though I don’t quite have dance moves even close to what she can do, so I’d have to leave that part out. But my point is, being a talk show host always felt like a far-fetched dream career that, while appealing, was just not realistic.

So after graduating high school, I went to college at GWU without too much certainty around what I wanted to do for a career. I applied as a math major, but after toying with Calculus and realizing I was more into adding and multiplying rather than the complexities of advanced math, I switched to psychology, and I loved it. I found it so fascinating to study the human mind and to have context for so many things I’d observed in my interactions with others throughout my life. I remember being particularly impressed with abnormal psych and subsequently being able to “diagnose” people in my life who dealt with various abnormalities we studied in the class. But, I never dug deeper and thought, “What do I want to DO with my psych degree?” or “How should I make a career out of this?”

Instead, after graduating, I just sort of stumbled into my first job, which I’d applied to to through Craig’s List for a position as an administrative assistant at a professional sports association. When I arrived for the interview, I was really confused because I didn’t appear to be at a professional sports association, but after asking some questions, I realized I was at a boutique staffing firm that placed people at various positions, including the one I’d applied for. At the time, I had no idea what a staffing firm was or that they even existed, but long story short, I ended up hitting it off with my interviewer and got hired to work at the staffing firm as a recruiter.

And, I loved it. I spent my days running job ads, interviewing people over the phone and in person, administering tests, submitting candidates for jobs, working with clients for new job orders, and feeling really satisfied when I placed someone at a client who hired them for a permanent position. That experience helped me with every step of my career since, and my boss from that job has became not only my career mentor, but a close friend over the years since then.

After two years in that position, one of our clients had an opening for a sponsorship associate, and it was a step up in pay as well as working for a client that many of our candidates loved working for. So, I threw myself into the mix and got hired in my first position doing event sponsorship and exhibit sales. I ended up learning a lot about events, sponsorship, and exhibits, and exceeded my goals with revenue for each event and loved the people I worked with. I ended up staying there for over 3 years, during which time I got promoted and discovered how much I loved the relationship management aspect of sponsorship. I wrote about my last work trip with that job in this post – The End of an Era. (And, my favorite line from that post: “With that said, this new opportunity was one I couldn’t walk away from. It’s a huge step up professionally and is making me feel like a real grown up, even if I have technically been one for some time.” #truethat.)

After 3ish years in that role, I ended up taking a new job in the event sponsorship/exhibit world, but this time with a big step up to Director (I posted about my first day here) and also with some flexibility in my schedule with working from home a few days a week. I stayed there for almost 4 years and really grew up, both professionally and otherwise, though in the back of my mind, was questioning whether event sponsorship was really what I wanted to be doing with my life. At the same time, I’d been doing it for almost 7 years and wasn’t sure there was a way to change career paths laterally, and I wasn’t comfortable taking a step back in responsibility or in salary. So, I tried to mute those lingering questions in the back of my mind and stay focused on the career path I found myself on.

I’m curious – were you intentional with your first few jobs, or were they more random like mine?

Friday Five: Catch-Up Edition

Since it’s been a while, thought I’d catch you guys up on what’s been going on lately. Without further ado…

Life

Overall, life is really good! I’m still living in DC and have now been in the same building for almost 6 years now, though I moved from a studio to a one-bedroom back in 2013 so it’s been just over 3 years in my current apartment. I do live downtown, though most of my friends have ventured further out as they’ve bought houses and realized how insanely expensive it is to buy real estate the closer in you are. For the record, it’s still pretty crazy in the DC area even when you venture out a bit, but a bit less so. In the next yearish, I’m hoping to make a similar move and plan to document the home buying process on here when that time comes.

Love

So back when I started this blog, I was in a pretty serious relationship that lasted about 4 years, 2 of which we lived together for, and when that ended, I wrote about the shift to singledom here. After that, I tried my hand at online dating and went out with a LOT of interesting characters — and even wrote about a handful of the experiences on a different website – Date ‘N Tell. (The 5 stories are still up there if you’re interested in a good laugh and/or to feel sorry for me.) A little over two years ago, one of those online dates turned into something more substantial… Meet John.

As for some random facts, our first date was on April 4, 2015, he is super tall (6’7″, and before you ask, yes, he played football!), he really loves Stella (it’s a bit of a love triangle if I’m being honest), and he grew up in the country in southern VA. He’s much more relaxed and easy going than me (tho it’s hard not to be!) and it’s awesome to have someone who tells me to slow down (sometimes, ha) and balances me out.

Health

Since John moved in last year, I’ve gotten much more into the habit of cooking dinner on a regular basis. His family is super into healthy living, especially into the fitness side of things since they’re all athletes, and are also into supplements (vitamins and minerals, not weird stuff). So, I’ve been taking vitamins on a regular basis for the first time in my life, which is great. Fitness wise I’ve dabbled here and there, but I’ve had trouble sticking to something and am still on the hunt for a workout I love and can commit to (though trust me I know that a huge part of the battle is convincing yourself you like it at the beginning), and for the past couple months, my back has been acting up again. For some of the longtime readers, you may remember That Time I Had Emergency Back Surgery (plus Part Two and Part Three) and since the surgery in 2006, I’d been totally pain free, until a few months ago. In April, it started hurting a bit with waves of pain that would come and go, and it’s stuck around since. I tried going to the chiropractor and also to a physical therapist but it’s still been lingering, so yesterday I went to my primary care doctor, and she wants me to get an MRI, so I’m scheduling that for next week hopefully. This is all to say that the back issues have made it tough to get into a good exercise regimen recently, but I’m hoping to figure out what’s going on there soon.

Weight

Ahh, my formerly favorite topic. 😉 Long story short, I’m not where I want to be, but I’m also not where I once was. I’ll dive in deeper another day, but I do plan to focus on losing weight again at some point, but right now there are lots of other things taking precedence right now, including…

Career

Over the last few years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my professional life and what I want out of my career. I’ve tried to think beyond just what I’m good at or what my experience is in, and instead to focus on where I’d like to see myself in a few years, not just what the easiest next step is. So in search of that, I made a few job changes and recently found myself in not one, but two jobs back-to-back that weren’t a good fit. And it’s forced me to pause, take a step back, and really think through the best direction to go from here.

Shifting Focus

Knock knock… is anybody there?

So let’s just get right into it, shall we? I started Beth’s Journey back in 2010, and it’s crazy to think that that was seven (SEVEN!) years ago. I’d lost a bunch of weight after a lifelong struggle, and remember reading so many blogs at the time and not seeing too many popular ones from people who’d lost a substantial amount of weight. I remember feeling like it was impossible to relate to someone who only had 5 or 10 pounds to lose, when I had the tall task of losing a whole person (a small one, but still) in front of me. It wasn’t until I went through the process of losing that last 5 or 10 pounds that I realized how much more difficult and frustrating those last pounds were so there was in fact a lot to relate on, but regardless, I saw a need at the time for a voice like mine in the healthy living/weight loss space, so I stepped into it and embraced it fully.

And, for the first several years, I really loved it. I would live and breathe Beth’s Journey, talk about it to anyone who would listen, brainstorm post ideas ALL THE TIME, keep drafts in my email of different posts or quotes or articles to share, keep up with social media, read and comment on so many other blogs, attend conferences, speak at conferences, brainstorm recipes, photograph everything I’d eat or do… you get the picture (no pun intended). And I don’t regret it for a second. I learned a lot about myself throughout those few years and discovered my voice with writing. I had a lot of incredible experiences, made friends and connected with people from all over the world, and even made some money doing it.

But once I got into my later 20s (and now almost mid-30s… eek!) and took on a more demanding day job, the blogging stuff started to feel more like a chore than anything else. I would pressure myself into writing a certain number of times a week, would be disappointed when I didn’t meet those benchmarks, and then would let emails and comments pile up so it all felt overwhelming and more like something I dreaded than wanted in my life. It didn’t help that my attention had also shifted away from healthy living and weight loss as I started focusing on other more grown-up things like my career and being in a serious relationship, so I felt guilty at the idea of writing about something I wasn’t myself doing. So, I popped in here and there and have written a handful of posts (literally, a handful) over the last few years, but it’s been pretty clear to all involved that my heart hasn’t been in it for a while.

So… What Am I Getting At?

With all that said, over those few years, I’ve started writing posts at least a thousand times, but have always stopped short because I had such a hard time knowing where to start or what to say. I loved having the creative outlet and found writing the posts themselves to be the most effortless part of the whole thing, but struggled with how to broach the subject. So what this all brings me to realize is that it was more the subject matter of Beth’s Journey than anything else that kept me away from the blog, and that I’ve really, really missed writing.

Also, now more than ever, I’m happy with my choice in a blog name because despite the acronym, life is a journey with lots of twists and turns and not all of them are about weight loss. I currently find myself on the brink of starting yet a new chapter in my life, so I’m going to seize the opportunity to shift the focus of Beth’s Journey to topics that I’m more excited about at the moment than weight loss (though I imagine I’ll still touch on it at least sometimes). So, if you’re up for it, I’d love to catch you up on what’s been going on and bring you along for this next phase of my journey as I try to figure out where to go from here. More to come…

Week One on SmartPoints

So you guys, I have to say, I’m really proud of myself. Something I’ve seriously struggled with in the past is how to balance losing weight with keeping up with my life. If I’m being “good” and recommitting to weight loss, I tend to shut myself away, avoid social situations, and honestly, get scared and overthink any hurdle that might come my way. I avoid going to happy hour or going out to dinner, and try to suggest doing something healthy like a workout for my social time, rather than making time for a workout earlier in the day, and letting my social time be, well, social.

This time around, I’m trying to be more reasonable and think long-term. Am I going to avoid going out to happy hour with friends forever? No. Am I only going to see my friends if I can convince them to join me for a workout? No. (Especially because my best girlfriends have fallen in love with SoulCycle and while I tried it once and liked it fine, I cannot bring myself to pay $33 per class without feeling sick at the thought.) Am I going to eat a small, well-portioned meal at home before meeting friends out for dinner and just order seltzer at the restaurant and seat myself as far away from the bread basket as possible? Nope.

IMG_3344

So, this last week, I took a looser approach to following SmartPoints and did the best I could, while still having a wonderful time with my friends, going out to eat much more than normal, and even taking a work trip to Boston. Last Thursday, one of my best friends from college who lives in NYC, Leah, came down to DC to visit for the weekend. Thursday night she came over and we ordered Mexican food. I ordered a healthy meal – chicken fajitas – for my main course, and even got queso and guac to share for starters. And I had chips and queso and guac, but I tried to be mindful while I was eating it. I made myself slow down a bit and stop before I overdid it, and even saved part of my fajitas for another day. In my past life, I would have fixated on avoiding the queso so bad that I am sure the stress alone would have added on several pounds.

Leah was around for the rest of the weekend, which included girls night Friday with wine at a friend’s place and dinner out at the Homestead (omg so good if you are local to DC) and brunch at The Republic on Saturday followed by some day drinking and snacking.

Cheers

We called it an early night Saturday and then I got back on track on Sunday. I went grocery shopping, planned out a few meals for the week (including Skinnytaste’s Banh Mi Rice Bowls which I hiiiiiiiighly recommend) and took my dog for a long walk.

Then, Monday I took a trip to Boston for the night for work and got back late Tuesday night, and again, normally this work trip would stress the hell out of me when I was first getting back on track. In my past weight loss attempts, I would have figured out how to fit in a workout, located a grocery store that I could get to easily once I got there, called my hotel ahead of time to ask for a refrigerator, overthought the meal options, and overly stressed myself out for a work trip I would have to take regardless of how it affected my weight loss efforts. Instead, I just took it for what it was and tried to be as healthy as I could with the options I had, drank plenty of water, and stayed on my feet a lot. I even met another best friend from college, Lindsay, for dinner on Monday night at Lincoln (SO GOOD!) and had a lobster roll for lunch during the work event on Tuesday.

Lobstah Roll

I hadn’t weighed myself at home once during the week since last week’s weight in, and with all the friend time, meals out, and travel, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to weigh in this morning. So imagine my pleasant surprise when I stepped back on the scale today and was down 3.4 pounds from last week! I honestly got giddy on the scale even though I still have a ways to go, and it made me feel confident that I can do this. Again.

Thrilled with The Gain

Going back to Weight Watchers to weigh in for the first time in a while can be pretty daunting for anyone, but I have been putting an extra layer of pressure on myself because I used to be a Leader, and was so afraid that someone might recognize me and wonder what the hell happened and where I went wrong.

When I feel the negative self-talk rise up and I know I am being hard on myself, sometimes I try to imagine that a close friend is sharing those same emotions with me, and I try to think through how I would respond to them. And usually, it’s quite different from what I say to myself (in my head mostly, luckily) and it helps me to change my tune.

I would say, “Don’t be ridiculous. Going back is a huge step in and of itself and it’s something you should be proud of, not scared of! Trust me, I know it sucks to have to face gaining weight back, but no one will be nearly as critical of you as you are. And honestly, even if someone does recognize you, what’s the worst that could happen? It would probably be refreshing more than anything because as anyone who has to lose/has lost a lot of weight genuinely understands, it’s not easy. Stop being so hard on yourself. I’ll be happy to go with you, if you like.”

I won’t share the self-directed commentary I had floating around before forcing myself to snap into gentle-mode, but suffice it to say that the version for my close friend was much kinder than the insults swirling around in my head.


As I mentioned in Monday’s post, I’ve been in a join, quit, rejoin, quit, rejoin cycle with Weight Watchers for the last year and a half plus. I went a few times throughout the year in 2015 where I saw the biggest gain from when I was Lifetime (about 35 pounds up from my goal weight), and then I went on April 26 and May 3 of this year (two weeks in a row!) and actually lost 3.8 pounds in that week, but that was followed by crickets… until yesterday.

When walking in, I honestly didn’t know what to expect with regards to what the scale would say. I haven’t been weighing myself regularly, and am not sure that I’ve been on a scale since May 3 to be honest. So, with baited breath I stood in line and soaked in the new-to-me SmartPoints merchandise while I waited for my turn at the scale. I saw a journal with a quote from the founder of Weight Watchers, and it helped reiterate that I was indeed making the right choice.

Choice Not Chance

My turn came, and as I walked over to step on the scale, I exhaled a bit when I realized that I had never laid eyes on the woman about to weigh me in my life, so she couldn’t possibly know who I was. She pulled up my profile and directed me to step on the scale, and then she goes, “Aww bummer. You’ve gained this time.”

Luckily, I had prepared myself for that, so I didn’t collapse on the spot. I did sheepishly remind her that I hadn’t weighed in since May 3 and had just recommitted the day before, and then I took back my booklet and sulked away from the scale.

But then, I opened up my booklet not sure what number would be there, and I had in fact gained weight, but it was only 1 pound since May 3! It could have been a LOT worse. I am pretty sure that’s the happiest I’ve been in my whole life from gaining a pound, so I’ll take it.

Where to Begin?

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve started writing this post, either on a computer or in my head, over the last year a half (!) since I last posted here. When healthy living and weight loss are not front and center in your life, it’s REALLY hard to figure out how to maintain a blog that’s supposed to focus on those very things. But let me just cut right to the chase – I need to figure out how to make those things central again.

You know the all-too-familiar drill.

Giving in to the pizza for lunch at work one time instead of eating your pre-packed lunch, which somehow leads to being unable to recount the last time you actually packed a healthy lunch to bring to work.

Skipping one workout after work one night to do something more fun with friends somehow leads to getting so far out of your healthy routine that it’s a constant fight to just get yourself to the gym one time.

One pound leads to five pounds, which leads to being scared to know how many pounds it actually is because it’s been too long since you’ve even stepped on the scale.

And let me tell you, it’s definitely not for lack of trying, or thinking, about how to get back on track. I’ve joined, quit, rejoined, quit, and rejoined Weight Watchers during this last year and a half. (I’m currently in the “rejoin” category but haven’t yet fully committed even one of those times.) I’ve joined a new gym and a new-to-me yoga studio. I’ve tried lots of new recipes and meal planning techniques. I even tried a 15 day challenge, which required me to stock up on protein powder, which are currently half full in my pantry. But all of these things have been half-assed, if I’m being honest.

I really do want to lose the weight again. I want to be back to where I once was, where I’d be excited to see pictures after an event with friends, instead of feeling a sense of panic when I get a notification that I’ve been tagged in a photo, for fear of how fat I might look in the picture. I want to feel good when I look in my closet to get dressed in the morning, instead of feeling on the verge of tears with my limited clothing options that fit. I want to be the person who feels that something is missing when they’ve skipped a workout, instead of feeling like a champion if I make it once.

Unfortunately, this post isn’t one filled with answers and advice. It’s just a post that’s a real, honest account of how much I’ve been struggling to get back on track. Recently, I had a conversation with a friend who asked me what piece of advice I would have for someone starting out on their weight loss journey. Though I don’t feel like I am qualified to dole out advice at this point, what came to mind is something I needed to remind myself of, so I wanted to put it out there for you, too.

Know that you’ll mess up and fall off the wagon, more times than you expect. What matters is not that you are perfect or that you don’t mess up, but how quickly you make yourself get back on the wagon after you fall. Dust yourself off as soon as you are able, forgive yourself, and make your next choice a healthy one.

Question: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received or given about getting (re) started on a weight loss journey?

I’m Just Gonna Say It

I need to lose weight. Again. Ugh.

While 2014 was a decent year for me overall, I really let my health fall down the list of priorities, and in turn, this blog. You can pretty much rest assured that if I’m not blogging, it’s because i’m not being good. Even though I KNOW that, and I’ve admitted it again and again, I somehow still possess the power to successfully trick myself into actually thinking the two aren’t related.

I remain an all or nothing person. When I’m on track and losing weight, i eat, breath, and sleep weight loss. When I tried to move into “coast” mode with weight maintenance, it was really difficult for me to navigate having healthy living be just a part of my life and not front and center. It happened slowly at first, missing a workout here or there, or ordering pizza after a night out on the town. Then it evolved into not making it to the gym once while traveling for work for a weeklong stretch, to ordering delivery becoming a regular part of the rotation. And then, here we are, and I can count on one hand the number of times I worked out in 2014 and healthy, home cooked meals have become less and less the norm.

I’m not ready to share the number on the scale yet, and I wish so bad that i didn’t feel a twinge of pain/guilt with saying that. I know exactly what I would say to anyone who came to me and said, “I am so embarrassed that I’ve gained weight back and I don’t know what to do.”

Your weight is just a number.

Your weight doesn’t define you.

There are so many other ways to measure health.

Set goals based on where you are now.

Don’t waste time wishing you were in a different place. You’re not. Accept it.

And even knowing all that and being ready with those forgiving words at the drop of a hat to someone else, I still have trouble saying them, and meaning them, to myself. So I guess I’m still working on just accepting it myself before I can share it with you.

In more upbeat news, a few concrete things I’m doing to help with my vague health goals for 2015 are:

  1. Set up a Beth’s Journey DietBet to start on Monday, January 12, 2015.
  2. Rejoined Weight Watchers.
  3. Looking into getting a Fitness Tracker – interesting discussion on this FB post: https://www.facebook.com/bethsjourney/posts/824367797624679. I still haven’t decided, but that conversation definitely tells me that people are passionate about their fitness tracker, whichever one it is!
  4. Signed up for the 2015 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler for April 13, 2015. Yikes.

A Peek Inside My Food Bag

Oh, hi! I have a lot to update you all on, but sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to come back when you’ve been away for a while without some grand gesture (post?) and I realized I can’t let that stop me, because I have to start somewhere.

Yesterday I got back from a four night trip to Hilton Head Health and I cannot tell you how serendipitous the timing of that trip was for me. I got invited to check out the facility with a group of other bloggers, and here’s a photo of the six of us who went, courtesy of the Hilton Head Health Facebook Page.

Bloggers
Andi, Monique, Sarah, Nicole, Lisa, …and Me

I’m still gathering my thoughts on the trip to share with you, but I will say that I left feeling very refreshed, excited, and recommitted to being healthy, losing weight, and getting myself back on track!

When I got back yesterday, I really wanted to cook for the first time in a while. It helped that I had also promised my friend Stacy, who watched Stella while I was gone, dinner, so I decided to sketch out a meal plan and then go to the grocery store.

Usually when I make a meal plan, I map out what meals I’ll be eating when, but I rarely stick exactly to it. So this time, I decided to just come up with a couple meal ideas for breakfast and then lunch/dinner, without plugging them into specific days/meals. This way I have the ingredients and ideas ready to go, but I’m not tied to having a certain meal at a certain time if I don’t feel like it.

So here’s what I came up with to carry me through most of the week:

Breakfast:

  • Steel cut oatmeal (I made 3 servings)
  • English muffin w/egg, spinach, and cheese
  • Smoothie w/banana, berries, spinach, skim milk, and almonds

Lunch/Dinner:

  • Chicken chili (just made this up as I went and this is what I made for dinner last night for Stacy, but I have two servings leftover)
  • Skinnytaste Creamy Lentil Soup (this is amaaaaazing. I made it last night for the first time and it’s so, so good.)
  • Chicken breast with cranberries and butternut squash (inspired by this recipe, but I’m too lazy to go through the whole process there)

And then, to satisfy your voyeuristic tendencies (trust me, I have ’em too), I wanted to give you a peek inside my food bag that I’m bringing to work today.

Lunch Bag

Keep in mind that I am in my office only Monday through Wednesday, and I’m lucky to have a fridge there I can leave things in overnight.

Closed Contents

I’m trying to get back into the habit of bringing in a few extra things at the beginning of the week, and then just supplementing as needed the next couple days.

Contents

Clockwise starting with: Honeycrisp apple, steelcut oats with pumpkin and cottage cheese, creamy lentil soup, chicken chili, raspberries, vanilla Chobani yogurt, Cilantro (garnish for both soups), Banana, Babybel cheese, reduced-fat sour cream (garnish for both soups), shredded cheddar (garnish for chili).

Are you more of a map every meal to every day, or just plan a couple meals for the week and make them as you feel like it? Any fun recipes you’ve tried lately and/or are looking forward to making soon?

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