How to make dinner for your family when your lifestyle is different than theirs
Ahhh, Monday. Here we are again. Somewhere along the way, Mondays became the magical day to start (or start over) a new diet or workout plan. To make it even harder, sometimes your family just isn’t on board with your change in lifestyle choices. And that’s ok. Remember: these are your goals. Whether you are looking to have more energy, tone up, lose weight, lower your cholesterol, get your pre-pregnancy body back, or whatever, this is YOUR journey. In the end, what others do, even if they are family, shouldn’t influence or impact your decisions. As I see it you have two choices. You can 1) accept things as they exist or 2) you can accept the responsibility to change them. When I was looking to lose college weight that I had gained, or training to compete in my fitness competitions, I had to be the one that pursued my goals relentlessly. No one was going to do the grocery shopping and the food prep for me (wouldn’t it be nice though?). And as I always tell my IgniteGirls+ members, “a chicken breast didn’t magically appear in my purse. I had to put it there.” Eating healthy isn’t something I do by accident. It’s a conscious choice that I have to continually make over and over again every time I eat. (Of course, with the weekly treat or two!)
So here are a few tips I have when it seems like everyone else in the world is eating pizza:
Don’t get too hungry. I suggest you always have healthy, on-plan items with you (yup, remember that chicken breast in my purse?). It will help you to make smarter choices on-the-go without reaching for a quick fix.
Double your recipes. Every time you cook, duplicate the size of the recipe. Not only will you have a beautiful meal after you’re finished, but now you have extra leftovers to portion out over the next few days. You can also freeze the leftovers and save them for later. This can save you time and energy in the kitchen when you feel like you are making 4,850,216,793 different meals for everyone.
Be prepared. This sort of goes hand in hand with the “don’t get too hungry” tip, but, again, having your pre-planned meals and snacks with you is not only convenient, but it takes the thinking out of the equation. Now you don’t have to get overwhelmed about what to eat next because you have your next meal ready to go. (Download your IgniteGirls nutrition plan here.)
Cook 70/30. If you are like me, and you do all of the grocery shopping and cooking in your household, use the 70/30 ratio for a family dinner. Prepare a meal that is 70% on plan for you and 30% off plan for them. This method allows your family to eat the main entree you prepared, while still having some of their favorite items. For example, an on-plan IgniteGirls meal for you could consist of a lean protein and green veggies. Grill up chicken breasts, sautée some spinach (the 70%) and make a healthier version of a mac and cheese side dish (the 30%) for everyone. Skip the mac and cheese on your plate, and serve it to the rest of the family. The great news about this method is that you are still setting a good example for your kids, staying on-plan and accommodating everyone’s taste preferences without making them feel forced into your new lifestyle.
Keep it simple. By making food prep and clean up a little simpler, it can encourage you to continue your efforts. If it feels like TOO much of a time suck, you’re likely to become overwhelmed and avoid it altogether. 1) Line a cookie sheet with foil while cooking. Then just throw away the foil to clean up. 2) Toss a bunch of ingredients into a crockpot to cook. 3) Prepare several meals at once because just a few hours in the kitchen can result in a few days worth of food. 4) Buy pre-cut and pre-washed veggies. Trader Joe’s has some good options.
Choose versatile foods. Selecting foods your whole family likes, but can be eaten a bunch of different ways based on personal preference are best. Chicken is a great example. Eat it baked, grilled, marinated, skewered, diced in a wrap, cold on a salad, slow-cooked in a crockpot, pulled, breaded with Panko, and so on.
Buy individually packaged items. Food that is pre-portioned for grab-and-go, like plain packets of oatmeal, KIND bars and single-serving almond butter is awesome. This helps to keep portions under control, and also saves on washing travel containers/tupperware. (Because, yes, I can relate to eating the entire deceivingly endless Costco-sized bag of addictive trail mix because those handfuls were larger than I thought. #oops)
Let me know how these tips help you. What other tricks do you use to stay focused on your goals?
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