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Healthy Meal Planning 101
January 18, 2018
One of the things that many people set as their new years resolutions is to eat better. Over the years we've landed on a mostly whole foods diet - that is predominately gluten free and always light on grains. I personally am gluten free and we rarely have grains as part of our planned meals - especially since I'm the primary cook. Instead I fill in with starchy vegetables when we are looking for more carbs. I think that has worked rather well for us - sweet potatoes and regular potatoes are my go-to starch right now, but it fluctuates and sometimes is roasted butternut squash or when we had a CSA different kinds of squash and beets were regularly in our roasted veggie rotation.
How do you decide what to make for dinner? I love the idea of meal planning, but truth be told am terrible at sticking to a rigid schedule. Are you in the same boat? Instead of following a complicated or detailed plan I follow a simple formula that takes some of the guesswork out of "what's for dinner"....
Healthy Protein + Vegetable + Second Vegetable or Starchy Vegetable
The basis of most of my meals is: Healthy Protein + Vegetable + Second Vegetable or Starchy Vegetable. What might this look like? Here's an example that is a weekly meal for us below: wild caught salmon, sauteed green beans, and roasted potatoes. I keep things simple and rarely follow a recipe, I use them for inspiration but find it frustrating to have all of the ingredients for recipes all the time - and following the steps, this is pretty much the only time that I'm not a rigid rule follower. But that's it, a simple formula for planning each of my meals.
Potatoes - Avocado oil, garlic, sea salt, dill or rosemary, and sometimes I add turmeric (not here)
Sauteed Green beans - We like the haricot vertes, they are thin and easy, I just throw them in the pan with some salted kerry gold butter
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time @375 in oven: Potatoes about 45, Salmon 20 minutes, beans about 10 on the stovetop
Another go-to for chicken, which is actually not a go-to in our house because I find it hard to source really good quality chicken that is affordable...that's another blog post! But this is a favorite, I like to take the skin off or use skinless chicken thighs, but you could do this with bonenless skinless chicken breast too.
Chicken rub - paprika, chili powder, cumin (equal parts of each of these) plus a little turmeric, garlic, good salt; then top the chicken with the spices and top with some good bacon. I use the Trader Joe's ends and pieces to get some higher quality bacon for less money!
Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Cook time: 45 mins at 375 in the oven
Throw in some broccoli in a pan, in the oven too and then you've got dinner done!
So that overall formula of protein + veggies is my usual plan for dinner, and lunches are usually left overs, a homemade soup and a piece of fruit, or a salad with protein on top. My emergency lunch is a salad with a can of tuna :)
Another of our current go-to meals right now (forgot to take pictures) is to make an oven roasted turkey breast and a large tray of roasted broccoli, and if I can fit it in my unfortunately small oven, roasted potatoes with garlic, dill or rosemary, salt, and turmeric. The roasted turkey breast is great because it's versatile as leftovers and lasts for a few days too. You can cube it and put on a salad, you can cut it up and stuff in a wrap (I have some coconut wraps from Thrive market that are fun way to have a paleo-friendly sandwich), you can make a Thanksgiving-like plate, or use it as a quick and easy dinner. The nice part about this dinner is that it takes about 45 minutes to cook in the oven and about 10 minutes to prep, so you can take a few minutes to get it all ready, then throw it in the oven and play until it's done!
For meal planning I like to rotate fish in one - two times per week (usually when I cook it's enough for about 4 meals, 1-2 dinners and 2 lunches. I usually plan two meals per week and then we fill in with something in the fridge in between. I'll keep sharing my regular meals - up next will be a soup, possibly chili, and tacos!
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