I always have grand plans for myself on the weekend: I’m going to go to yoga. Twice. I’m going to take my dog for a long, much-deserved walk. I’m going to plan my meals for the week and buy all the groceries I need to make them, and I’m going to make a giant batch of soup that I’ll take for my lunch all week long.
And then Saturday morning rolls around and I realize that sitting on my couch in my PJs sloooowly sipping my coffee is a much better idea. And it is—until Monday rolls around and I’m all, “Crap! I have nothing to eat!” When will I ever learn?
I’m guessing I’m not alone in this: More often than not, many of us have grand visions for how we’ll prep for a healthy week on the weekends, except we hardly ever get around to actually doing it. Friends, we need some inspiration—and fast.
I thought it would be enlightening to ask a few Philly nutrition gurus how they manage to keep all their ducks in a row, to glean a few of their best tips and tricks. And guess what? Their answers really surprised me.
Here’s what they told me.
Juliet Burgh, vice president and nutrition director, Unite Fitness
“I eat a salad every day for lunch, even if it’s on the side accompanying something else. I try to make two to three salads at a time and put them in Tupperware. I bring my salad dressing to work and leave it in the fridge there, or I pour it on first thing in the morning. That way the lettuce and veggies don’t get soggy. I also pre-package my snacks for each day for the week, so I don’t forget them. I always make sure I have three things with me at all times: my lunch and two snacks. My favorite snacks right now are Steve’s PaleoGoods Tropical PaleoKrunch Bars, hummus with carrots, or a handful of raw trail mix from Trader Joe’s. Breakfast and dinner I eat at home.”
Ali Shapiro, health coach and creator of Truce With Food
“I’ve recently changed up my routine. I realized I hated doing all my cooking on the weekend. It ruined the weekend for me. So what I do on the weekend is make sure I have all the ingredients I need for my green smoothie, lots of raw veggies, and the ingredients I need for two different dressings that I make in my blender. The dressings take five minutes and I use them on veggies like green beans, salad mix and cucumbers. It prevents boredom and gets me in and out of the kitchen fast!”
Editor’s note: I asked Ali for her dressing recipes because, duh, of course, and she kindly sent them over:
Lemon Mint Dressing
Makes four to six servings
1 cup local organic yogurt (yes, full-fat)
2 tbsp. of honey
1/8 cup of fresh mint
1/8 cup of fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
Dash of pepper
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and enjoy. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Makes four to six servings
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp minced onion
½ tsp sea salt, or to taste
¼ tsp black pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Put vinegar, citrus juices, onion, salt and pepper in a bowl and
whisk to combine
2. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and store in a bell jar in the refrigerator.
3. Shake to blend before using.
Kelly Stogen, registered dietician for Club La Maison
“On Sundays I usually roast up a ton of veggies—beets, carrots, cauliflower, peppers, onions, mushrooms, zucchini—or I cook them in a Crock Pot with a grain (eg: bulgur wheat) or beans. I will freeze anything I don’t think I’ll consume in three days, and then thaw out as need be. I also cook a few pieces of chicken or fish that day. I then pack my lunch for the next three days in Tupperware: some of the roasted veggies, a whole grain, and some form of protein. I also pack my breakfast for work Monday morning: hot oat bran made with almond milk, fruit, and hemp or chia seeds.
“Prepping on Sunday helps a lot with eating healthy during the week. I am often gone for 12 hours a day during the week, so cooking for an hour after work is not ideal. Being able to just heat up my grains, veggies and protein really makes life a lot easier. It does take a few hours on Sunday, but it is totally worth it to know I’m eating healthy and I feel great because of it.”
Jessica Procini, health coach and creator of Laugh Yourself Skinny
“Long gone are the weekends where I log hours in the kitchen prepping for the week, especially as the weather gets warmer. Fun is the foundation for everything I do and cooking just isn’t fun for me so I’ve mastered the art of minimal at-home cooking while still eating healthy. My recipe for a successful week ahead starts Sunday evening by reviewing my schedule for the week and setting intentions for each upcoming day. Anxiety can cause stress eating so this is how I squash that before it gets started. Then I run a hot bubble bath and soak till my fingers turn to raisins. I head to bed early and start my week with a 7 a.m. workout to get me revved for the week.
“Monday morning, I shoot an email with some basic grocery items to Whole Foods South Street Bike Delivery so my essential smoothie and juice ingredients are on their way to me first thing. Next up is a call to Pure Fare to deliver a bunch of meals to have in the house in between my lunch dates and dinner meetings for work.”
Deanna Segrave-Daly, registered dietitian and blogger at Teaspoon of Spice
“Admittedly, I’m not great with consistent meal planning each week so over the weekend, I check to make sure I have a stocked pantry/freezer with staples for ‘no brainer’ dinners where I can toss together a whole grain (farro, brown rice, whole wheat pasta), a protein (canned beans, canned tuna, frozen shrimp/fish, nuts, turkey meatballs) and veggies (canned tomatoes, roasted red peppers, frozen broccoli) for the days I don’t have much fresh produce on hand.”
Krista Yoder Latortue, registered dietician and executive director of Family Food, LLC
“Meeting my overall nutrition goals starts with setting reasonable and achievable weekly goals. Over the weekend, I like to think about small goals I want to focus on in the week ahead. For example, this week my goal is to increase the number of orange vegetables (which are packed with beta-carotene!) I am eating so I plan to make a pumpkin soup and homemade sweet potato fries. I assess where I currently am on my healthy living journey, where I want to be, and break it down into the steps it will take to get there.”
Judy Matusky, registered dietician at Main Line Health
“Healthy eating needs to lie along the path of least resistance for me, so weekend prep is a must. In the winter, I’ll buy fruits and vegetables in bulk but in the summer, thanks to my husband’s garden, I get mounds of garden-fresh produce. I’ll spend an hour or two peeling, chopping, even roasting them so it’s easy to get those recommended nine servings a day.
“My other weekend tip is to cook batches of whole grains and store them in my fridge. I’ll throw wheat berries on my salad, grab a bowl of steel cut oatmeal for breakfast or mix barley with pre-roasted veggies and grilled salmon for a meal that’s on the table faster than take-out.
“I’m a big fan of the ‘lunch bowl.’ This is my version of a salad. All the fruit, veggies and grains I prep on the weekend combined with some protein like tofu, hard boiled eggs, beans or tuna served over leafy greens with a splash of olive oil and vinegar—nutrient heaven!”
Lucinda Duncalfe, clean eating expert and founder and CEO of Real Food Works
“Saturday is my day to prep for the upcoming week. After a morning workout and a stop at the farmers’ market, I make whole grain raspberry pancakes for my daughters. Then I lay out our family schedule. I plan which days we’ll cook, use Real Food Works, and eat out, and I make a grocery list.
“I try to cook with whatever shows up in our CSA box and at the farmers’ market, and I add whatever strikes my fancy at specialty shops like DiBruno Brothers and Four Worlds Bakery. I get staples at the grocery store–usually stopping at two. I love food shopping!
“Then, finally, back at home in the mid-afternoon, I cook a huge pot of soup for the week’s lunches.”
“On Sundays I fill a small container with my supplements for the week ahead. Since I take a few different kinds, it really saves time to have them all in one place. I leave the container out where I can see it as a reminder to take them daily (this really helped during my pregnancy when I needed to remember that daily prenatal vitamin!), and if I’m traveling that week I just throw the container in my purse and go.
“I believe that smoothies are the most nutritious when they’re fresh, so I don’t usually make them in advance. Instead, I’ll pre-wash the greens and herbs for the week (the most time-consuming step) and store them in the fridge so that I can just throw them in my Vitamix on busy mornings.
“Since I had a baby in January, I’ve realized that convenience is essential: If I’m hungry between meals, I will eat whatever I can grab with one hand, so it really helps to prep snacks ahead of time. Lately I’ve been chopping veggies that I can eat with hummus, making a big batch of chia pudding and creating my own raw nut-and-seed mixes instead of opting for packaged granola bars and processed snacks. Sometimes, I’ll even bake some beauty-friendly cookies or savory snacks (like these roasted chickpeas) to have on hand for the week.”
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