I was recently asked if I someone could pay me to cook for them for a week. What a gig; I would love that! Regardless, the reason this questions was asked of me is because of my eating habits. I regularly eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and several snacks throughout the day. My food intake is well rounded and whole foods in nature. I bring my snacks and lunch with me to work everyday and cook most of my own food. This baffles most people. However, it is not as daunting as it seems.
The first thing you need to establish is what foods you like. Focus on vegetables, fruits, meats, and nuts, along with some dairy (optional). Stay far, far away from processed, grainy, sugary imitations of food. Second, get rid of anything in your house that falls into that second category and/or is a diet "pitfall". Then we want to come up with a meal plan. Sit down with a pen and paper and literally write out what you want to eat for the next week: breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. Don't worry, you don't have to follow it exactly. But, if you come up with a plan, it will be much easier to shop, cook, and follow. And take a lot of the stress away of transforming your diet.
Once you have your plan, make a shopping list. Remember, you want to stick to the outside aisles of the supermarket. These are the aisles that generally have the "real" food: vegetables, fruits, and meats. Only venture to the inside for healthy oils, spices, frozen vegetables, and bulk foods such as nuts. Set aside a few hours that to devote to cooking for the next several days. Leftovers will generally hold in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for a few months! Cooking on a Sunday can certainly feed you for a week. Also, if you cook on a day where you have little other obligations, you will be less stressed about trying a new recipe or cooking method. However, feel free to stick to what you know. Some simpler options include the oven (or toaster oven), "George Foreman" style grill, microwave, boiling on the stove top, pressure cookers, and slow cookers.
A few key things to remember:
1. Load up on vegetables in combination with a fat source (butter, oil) so you can absorb the nutrients provided by them.
2. Eat around 25g protein in a sitting; anything more is simply a waste of protein (your body can only digest so much) and eat protein at every sitting.
3. Don't forget to snack! Combine a carb, protein, and fat to carry you between meals. You will be less likely to over eat, better able to curb mood swings, and have more luck maintaining a healthy weight.
Here is a super simple recipe that took 5 minutes to throw together, and hour to cook, and fed me for four meals!
Roasted Chicken Thighs and Kale
- 4 Bone-in chicken thighs (with or without skin; personally, I love the skin, but it has a lot of fat for those looking to shed a few pounds)
- 1 bunch of kale
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- Olive oil
Preheat oven to 400°
Wash kale and roughly chop
Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper
Spray baking dish with cooking oil
Put kale in bottom of dish
Rub chicken thighs on all sides with olive oil
Place thighs skin-side up on top of kale
Scatter minced garlic over everything
Sprinkle oregano over everything
Sprinkle zest over everything
Drizzle 1-2 tbs olive oil over everything
Bake for 30 minutes, flip thighs
Bake another 30 minutes until internal temperature reaches 165°