WEEKLY MEALS STRATEGIES 101 (PART 1)
“The will to win is not nearly so important as the will to prepare to win.” Vince Lombardi
The whole premise of Part 1 revolves around Lombardi’s quote.
Everyone wants to “win”. However, are you willing to put in the PREPARATORY work that sets up all future steps. Sounds simple, huh? Then just do it. Your habits will determine whether you do it or not, but that’s a whole different topic for another post.
HERE’S THE HOW TO:
- Pre-select your routine for the week, before the week starts. We need the following:
- 2 Set Breakfasts
- 3 Lunch Options
- 3 Dinner Options
- 3 Snack Options
Research shows that the average person eats about 15 different foods on a weekly basis. We are talking about people who eat poorly and those who make healthy choices, alike. What 15 foods will you select that will become the basis of your plan?
2. Shop for your groceries before the week begins, with your “Set Grocery List”
Advice: Shop on a day after your “Refuel” meal. That way you don’t veer from your plan due to cravings and temptations.
3. Make enough leftovers from your Sunday dinner to start the week right.
WHAT DOES THE PLAN LOOK LIKE?
Step 1: I have a set template of foods that I enjoy. We will cover this template more in later parts of this series (As well as real life examples of what I eat on a regular basis) This template of foods is made of the following criteria:
- It fits my macro and micronutrient needs
- Tastes great
- Easy to prepare
- Easy to store and readily available
- It’s filling
Step 2: I shop on a Sunday. I’ve just had a refuel on the Saturday, with all cravings for food gone, and I’m in a very unemotional state. Shopping is a chore, with zero temptations at this point.
Here’s my list:
- Protein Powder
- 2% Milk
- Turkey Bacon
- Egg Whites
- Sliced Cheese
- Lean Ham
- Chicken Breasts
- Chicken Thighs
- Pork tenderloin
- Chicken Thighs
- Bagged Salad (3 varieties)
- Broccoli slaw
- Sweet Potatoes
- BBQ Sauce
- Green Beans
- Brussel Sprouts
- Cottage Cheese
- Greek Yogurt
Yes, I do have some select treats for my refuel day but I usually like to shop for that separately on a Friday night to avoid unnecessary temptations along the way.
With these foods in the kitchen, I have taken care of one of the biggest keys to ones’ success.
Step 3: Sunday is usually a family dinner. It usually includes some sort of lean protein, yams, some salad or vegetables. I usually bbq the meat. It takes just as much time to cook 8 chicken breasts as it does 1 breast, allowing me food for the next few days.
Do I get out the tupperware and prep 5 days of meals? I wish I had that discipline and patience. Having an extra yam and chicken breast ready for Monday is all I need.
Back to Vince Lombardi’s quote. This will to prepare has made a world of difference when, the following day, I am rushed for time and reach into my fridge to make my lunch only to smile knowing that lunch is ready to go.
Again, this is SIMPLE! What’s hard is overcoming bad habits. Please read my blog on the “Secret’s to a Better Body” for help in this department.
As always, please feel free to contact me should you have any questions as it pertains to your plan and your preparation. I’d be happy to help.
PART 2: BREAKFAST
Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? Some would think it is. In my opinion, breakfast starts the day right and is an integral part of your overall plan.
THIS POST IS REALLY ABOUT 2 THINGS:
GOOD HABITS AND ROUTINE ARE HUGE.
SIMPLICITY RULES SUPREME.
HERE’S THE SKINNY ON BREAKFAST, STRATEGIES THAT WORK:
Choose 2-3 breakfasts that you will rotate regularly throughout the week.
- These 2-3 options need to:
- taste great
- be easy to make
- have adequate amounts of protein in them (Keeps you satiated and allows you to meet your daily protein needs easier)
WHATS THE DEAL?
Most people do horribly breakfast wise. Part of the problem is waiting until the last minute to get out of the house after showering, selecting clothes to wear, pressing the snooze button a few times, etc. Breakfast is often on the run.
Advice: Break that pattern with a productive routine. (This morning routine topic is for another post) For now, let’s assume you don’t have that routine.
Having a quick, tasty, easy to prepare breakfast with adequate protein in it will give you the required nutrients and eliminate those cravings a few short hours later.
Why only 2-3 breakfast options?
You establish routine by keeping things minimalist. Routine is King.
BUT TOM, WHAT ABOUT PANCAKES, AND MUFFINS, AND OTHER FUN FOODS?
Save those choices for your refuel day after earning that food through hard work OR fit it into your macros with the help of your coach. (Not recommended….Routine healthy choices works BEST for success, but if variety once in a while is critical to your success, then it can somehow be worked it with the help of a person who understands both your emotional and nutritional needs).
WHAT DO I DO?
I have 2 go to breakfasts.
Option #1: Oatmeal and protein powder (Plus my daily coffee)
I have this choice 5 times a week. It’s easy, quick and tastes great.
I put 56g of quick oats in a bowl, with a pinch of salt, 3/4 cup of water as well, and heat it up for 1.5 minutes in the microwave. I then add 1.5 scoops of cookies and cream protein powder in it.
Option 2: Turkey Bacon and Eggwhite Omellete (Plus my daily coffee)
I have this meal on Thursday mornings after my mini refuel as well as on Sunday mornings after a major refuel (Right after weight training)
This breakfast is a very low carb option as I’m already fully carb loaded from the night before.
I cook 6 strips of low fat turkey bacon, and also 1 cup of eggwhites ( with 3 slices of turkey breast slices and 1 slice of low fat cheese) for my omellete. I then drizzle a little bit of E.D. Smith sugar free syrup on the eggs and turkey bacon for fun flavour (Yes, I am human)
Option 3: Saturdays….. Oatmeal and Protein + FUN STUFF
I work hard throughout the week. I have a refuel on Saturdays. This is the day I stick with my regular routine because I enjoy the oatmeal so much, PLUS whatever I may desire.
Sometimes I will have a nutella crepe as my side. Other times I will eat a fun cereal like Fruit Loops (just because…..hey, we grew up on that as kids.) Other times, I will even have a bowl of ice cream in the morning. Remember, I have just finished a brutal Saturday morning workout to start the day and will be training again later Saturday.
DEVELOP your ROUTINE. I cannot stress this importance enough. Have your kitchen stocked up with your go to breakfasts at all times. Eat what you planned to have. DO NOT veer from your plan. STICK TO THE SIMPLE SET MENU.
If you ever need tweaking of your own plan, I don’t mind giving you some tips. You can always reach me at CoachTomKiat@gmail.com
PART 3: LUNCH
I’m never going to waver on a key concept in my food posts:
YOUR HABITS DICTATE YOUR SUCCESS
ROUTINE IS KING.
The BEST thing you can do is have an rotation of a few GO TO lunches. (I am saying this under the premise that you are given a set time frame to eat at work, and you have a lot on your mind that needs to get done at that job)
How many do you need?
- 2 Staple Lunches
- 1 “Quick Hit” Lunch
- 1 “On the Road” Choice
- You’ve had a breakfast that has adequate protein in it
- You are eating lunch 3-5 hours after breakfast
- There was no mid morning snack.
Note: This is using the model of having a breakfast at 7am and eating lunch by 12 noon. If you were to eat earlier, and have a late lunch, you would have violated a general guideline that I would like you to adhere to, that being eat every 3-5 hours. (This might vary for certain individuals. If you eat very early, I would schedule in a mid morning to keep within the general 3-5 hr window)
NEXT STEP: SELECT THE MEALS THAT WILL GIVE YOU THE MOST VALUE:
- Easy to prepare and pack
- Packed with quality food, while maintaining your allotted calories
- Adequate protein, as part of your regimen to meet your protein needs throughout the day and help stave off hunger and help regulate your blood sugar levels.
MY PERSONAL SELECTIONS:
When helping someone with their food, I take inventory of a person’s likes, dislikes and needs and develop a plan that caters to them. For the purpose of this article, I will share what I personally do. (You are welcome to send me a message regarding how this post applies to you lunch selection wise if you like)
- 6 0z Grilled Chicken & 2 cups Side Vegetables (Chicken was made the night before and the veggies are in a container ready to go. It’s quick and easy)
- 5 oz Pork Tenderloin & Side Salad (Bagged Salad ready made…. Eat Smart Kale Salad with 1/2 the dressing package) (Again, I do not have time to waste. Nightly prep and ease of set up at lunch MUST be simple)
1 “Quick Hit”:
- 200g 1% Cottage Cheese with 1 scoop of protein powder. (I hate cottage cheese. The cookies and cream protein powder I use makes the concoction taste great. This is super easy and seems dessert like. I place the food in a container the night before so its ready to go the next day)
1 “On the Road” Choice:
- Whole Chicken at local grocery store & 1 apple. (I only do this if I can bring the 2nd half of the chicken to work, store it in a fridge and eat the second half the next day. Obviously this is not a good idea on a Friday)
- Swiss Chalet Quarter Chicken (White meat) & Baked potato (with some side ketchup)
With “On the Road” selections, I have already sourced places closest to my work. This road selection is due to last minute challenges in planning.
WHAT ABOUT THE WEEKENDS, TOM?
Weekends can be tricky depending on whether or not your routine changes from the weekdays. A general answer would be to apply the same formula on the weekends as you would for the weekdays. However, we all have different circumstances that can’t be addressed fully in a blog post.
If you are on the road, you may be anywhere. If that’s the case, I usually go with one of 3 options that were not listed above:
- A grilled chicken wrap of some sort with light dressing (McDonald’s works as does Tim Hortons.
- A grilled chicken salad with light dressing (McDonalds or Wendy’s)
- Burrito Bowl (With grilled chicken, loads of veggies, 1/2 rice OR beans (not both), and hot sauce.
If it’s my REFUEL day, I will have WHATEVER I want for lunch on a Saturday. If you don’t have a huge refuel day, I find most like to keep their refuels for later in the evening, to which I would recommend a bigger serving of healthy foods for lunch leading up to your dinner later on.
If it’s my Sunday, after my refuel day, because I have eaten so much the day prior, I will only eat dinner and a meal just after a workout. There is no lunch on these days.
PART 4: DINNER
THERE ARE 3 MAJOR REASONS WHY DINNER TIME IS A DISASTER FOR SO MANY PEOPLE:
- You’ve waited too long to eat, between lunch and dinner.
- Emotions get the best of you.
- You didn’t plan well.
IT’S 6PM AND I’M STARVING.
You are not starving. People in 3rd World countries are starving. You are hungry, however. Most likely, you had a day in which you did not have adequate protein throughout the day. (namely Breakfast and Lunch) Secondly, your blood sugar level is low from waiting over 6 hours to eat. (As a general guideline, you should be eating every 3-5 hours)
OF COURSE, WHAT DO YOU CRAVE IN THIS SITUATION? CARBS!
You load up on carbs, your blood sugar peaks, 3-4 hours later your blood sugar drops, and you are scrounging your kitchen for some sort of “snack” to munch on because you are “hungry again”.
KEY POINT: EAT SOMETHING DECENT BETWEEN LUNCH & DINNER
MY DAY WAS A TRAINWRECK.
You come home after a long day. You are tired. You might be frustrated by the traffic. You might be ticked off by the day’s events. You might be bitterly unsatisfied. Did I describe your situation?
What will you gravitate to?
Something that is “fun” to make up for the day. You will escape through food.
KEY POINT: ASK YOURSELF? IS FOOD REALLY THE LONG TERM ANSWER OR DO I NEED TO MAKE SOME CHANGES ELSEWHERE IN MY LIFE?
THERE’S NOTHING IN MY KITCHEN TO EAT!
You should have gone shopping. You should have had a fridge of food that has some ready to go options. Prior planning was lacking, and now you are just scrambling. Is it “order in” night, or do we go with the boxed convenience food?
KEY POINT: PLAN YOUR DINNER THE NIGHT BEFORE, BASED ON THE SHOPPING YOU DID PRIOR TO THE WEEK STARTING.
ALRIGHT, LETS’ TALK DINNER STRATEGY. HERE’S THE ASSUMPTIONS I’M GOING TO MAKE:
- You’ve gone shopping for the groceries you need for the week.
- You have a rough template of the foods you generally eat for dinner.
- The foods are readily available to cook somewhat quickly.
- You’ve already eaten properly throughout the day
Note: If this is not the case, you are already in hot water.
Strategy 1: Have 3-4 “Go to” Dinner Options that you enjoy.
These dinner options are part of your weekly plan.
Here are my non-refuel weekly selections:
- Grilled Chicken with a Ready in the Bag Salad. (I have a few salads that I really enjoy that offer up plenty of variety. Honestly, I can be lazy, with bagged salad being quick and easy. As for the chicken, it’s either cooked the night before or I put it on the grill to cook quickly)
- Pork Tenderloin with Mixed Vegetables on the side and a Yam (The pork tenderloin can be subbed with any lean protein. The mixed vegetables give me healthy greens and I can stack my plate with some high volume food. The yam, I just enjoy and normally add cinnamon to it)
- Omellete & Turkey Bacon Dinner. (My low-cal option when I’m low on food and I need something quick. Again, time is of the essence. That’s my reality)
Strategy 2: Have your “Quick Pick ” Option just in case you don’t have time.
There are days when I need to be out of the house fast and just don’t have time to cook. Yes, sometimes I’m in a mood where I really don’t want to cook either. This option works for me:
- 1/2 Chicken (Ready-made) from Costco and a baked potato or rice. (I’m extremely busy. Some nights I need to bring my daughter to her volleyball practice. This is a healthy, convenient option)
Strategy 3: Have your “Eating Out” Options Readily Available
- A Grilled Chicken Wrap, packed with veggies and light on the dressing is the easiest thing I can eat that satisfies me, that does not make a mess in my car that I can get almost anywhere when I don’t have time to eat.
- Grilled Chicken Salad. Fast food chains always have salad available. If you ask for double meat, they will give it to you at a premium cost. Mixed with a light dressing, you can have a simple quick meal from almost anywhere.
HERE’S THE KEY TAKE HOME PIECES:
HAVE YOUR GROCERIES IN YOUR HOUSE SO THAT YOU ARE NEVER STUCK FOR FOOD.
CREATE A ROTATION OF DINNERS THAT ARE QUICK, NUTRITIOUS AND ENJOYABLE.
ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN B JUST IN CASE THE UNEXPECTED HAPPENS.
AS ALWAYS, THESE STEPS REQUIRE GOOD HABITS.
SECONDLY, AVOIDING THE PITFALLS MENTIONED IN THE BEGINNING OF THE ARTICLE MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE.
PART 5 SNACKS:
Snacks……I prefer to call them Meals, even though they tend to be smaller than regular meals. For the intent of this blog I will call them snacks to differentiate between bigger meals such as Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
There are no hard rules on snacks. There are guiding principles, however, that often apply and they may differ for various individuals.
- Most people should adhere to the “Eat every 3-5 hrs” principle. Snacks allow you to maintain a constant stream of nutrients in your bloodstream.
- Snacks are used as a tool to suppress hunger cravings that will lead to a potential nightmare at dinner time.
- Snacks often serve as a supplement to make sure you get adequate levels of protein into your bloodstream.
- Snacks can often serve as pre-workout boosts or post-workout recovery aids.
HOW MANY SNACKS SHOULD I HAVE IN ONE DAY AND HOW MANY CALORIES?
This often depends on the individual, his lifestyle, and his eating preferences. Some people prefer bigger meals. Others prefer smaller meals throughout the day. Some wake up very early and need a midmorning snack whereas others have the opposite problem; they are up later in the evening and need a snack at 9pm. Your snack choice and size of snack will be dependent on these factors.
I have devised countless plans that vary from person to person. However for the most part, people usually select one of three basic plans:
A) Breakfast – Snack – Lunch – Snack – Dinner
B) Breakfast – Lunch – Snack – Dinner
C) Breakfast – Snack – Lunch – Snack – Dinner – Snack
The Snack choice often depends on what their protein prescription is and how they are fulfilling those needs throughout the day. The other key factor is activity levels.
John has protein needs of 180g per day.
John’s Protein breakdown: Breakfast 40g Lunch 45g Dinner 45g
John still needs 50 grams of protein. We can fulfill those needs in a number of ways. One way is to add another meal. Another way is to divide the protein into two 25g snacks placed strategically throughout the day. The possibilities are numerous.
Sharon has protein needs of 120g daily.
Sharon’s Protein breakdown: Breakfast 30g Lunch 30g Dinner 30g
Sharon still needs 30 grams of protein. She may get 25g in the form of a protein shake and get the other 5g with the almonds she has later in the day. We could also set up another “meal” if we wanted to, consisting of 30g of protein.
Once again, the options are numerous based on one’s needs.
Question: Is your snack always dependent on your protein needs?
The answer is no. Often times, we might meet all of our protein needs through 4 solid meals and use the snack strategically to meet other needs.
Here’s the MAIN POINT:
ALWAYS HAVE A PURPOSE FOR YOUR SNACKS
and…… have that purpose fit in line with the overall goals for the week and the day, with the guidance of a Coach who is well aware of your needs.
HOW I DO SNACKS…
- Protein Boost. I will often have a protein based source at some point in the day. This is often after a workout but not confined solely for this purpose. That snack is usually one of the following:
- Chicken breast
- Cottage Cheese and Protein powder blend
- Protein Shake
- Protein Bar
- Greek Yogurt
- Egg White Omellete
- Whole Eggs
2. Volume Boost. There are times when I’m just downright hungry and the only thing that will squash the hunger is some volume food like a big salad with low cal dressing. This snack can go a long way on days where I may have been extra active and tolerable hunger becomes a little intolerable.
3. Treat. This is rare, but if I’m super rigid with my food and know that I’m in a situation where I just want the flavoured coffee or a cookie, I will subscribe to the 80-20 rule, 80 percent of my nutrients being high nutrient yield food, thereby meeting my needs and 20% of my food meeting “emotional/psychological” needs.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Work with a trained Coach to develop a plan to meet the needs that you have and develop a plan around your daily consumption. Snacks have a place; use them wisely.