One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

WEEKLY QUESTIONS

Are you and how do you get prepared?

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Question of the weekThis weeks question(s) were inspired by a few separate events that, some how, my brain collided together into the concept of preparedness.

Bear with me as I try to make sense of this all…

  1. A few days ago I got an email asking my opinion on prepackaged food diets like Medifast
    or Chefs Diet
    . My reaction is, well, of YES you will lose weight on those plans because it’s portion controlled and someone is doing all the preparing for you. I’m sure you would lose weight if you just ate Lean Cuisines or Healthy Choice dinners for each meal and nothing else. The problem is it’s not a long term solution for most people because we can’t afford to buy the meals forever and then when we return to our old habits, well, you know (you especially know if you have yo-yo’ed as I have). [Note: I’m not saying anything is WRONG with prepackaged meals, I ate Lean Cuisines/ Healthy Choice meals for lunches all the time while losing – I’ve just learned how to make my own now—see below]
  2. The second event was yesurday’s episode of Oprah. Leaving work early, I got a chance to catch it and I was ecstatic to find Dr. Oz was on.  He is one of my favorite Oprah “soldiers”. Anyway, they were discussing food and how important a roll it plays in our health, physical and mental. They discussed how bad the average American diet is and how we can cure many of ailments by eat healthier. What does “healthier” mean? Well, fresh fruits, veggies and whole grains, of course! All the things that are hard to eat if we aren’t prepared.
  3. The last event was analyzing my own food journals. It has been comforting for me to track the last two days. I’ve been eating all my own home cooked meals, and fresh fruits and I feel GREAT! But I wouldn’t be able to do it unless I was prepared.

Somehow, these three things got me thinking about being prepared (ok, well now that I wrote them out it doesn’t seem that big of a jump). There is no doubt that preparedness is one of the biggest keys to weight loss. Have you every gotten really hungry and had no healthy options? UGH! It’s the worst! I normally end up ordering in or going out and NOT making the best choices.  

So am I prepared? YES!

How do I get prepared? Well, every weekend I hit the grocery store. Sometimes it’s Aldi’s and sometimes the wholesale club but every weekend I’m definitely making a food run. I spend most of my time in the produce department, stocking up on the fresh fruits and veggies. Then I move to the lean meats. I buy anything on sale, bulk if I need to, and freeze it. I restock any whole grain noodles, brown rice etc. and any pantry items like spices or soy sauce. I also pick up my whole grain bread products and dairy, milk and yogurts.

It sounds like a lot but actually the produce is probably about 70% and everything else I don’t buy weekly (besides yogurt and milk).

What do I do with all this food? Well, I cook meals for the family.  I then take the leftovers for lunches and freeze them in these plastic containers. This way I can eat my own home cooked meals for lunch at work. It really is a time (and money) saver. Plus, on average, my meals have less sodium, less calories and, well, I know EXACTLY what’s in them.

I need to say, it took me a long time to get into this grove. When I started Weight Watchers I did buy prepackages meals to bring to work. My grocery bills were a bit higher back then and I did waste a bit of produce before I started figuring out the optimal items and amounts to buy for the three of us. Everything is a journey and a learning process, including grocery shopping, pantry stocking and cooking. However, being prepared is an invaluable tool in your weigh loss arsenal.

So how about you? Are you prepared? How do you get prepared?




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Discussion

There are 32 comments so far.

    Girl on a Mission...

    March 5, 2008

    My goodness Roni, its like you are talking about what was rumbling through my brain last night! I was looking in my fridge to find something to prepare for lunch and I was stupified and bewildered…because there was nothing left in the freezer. I too, prepare frozen meals for the week days as it makes for an easier time when I’m putting the lunches together for me/spouse. I love to cook Calico Beans…not sure if you have my recipe…

    http://dietingbattle.blogspot.com/2007/08/calico-beans.html

    They are stocked full of protein, and, I’m sure you can find someway to re-vamp the receipe to make it even healthier (hint hint- greenlitebites!)

    But, I’m at that point in my fridge where I need to prepare and spend a weekend cooking. I love to cook soups and chili items for lunch. I think its that warm cup of something that keeps me full and makes me feel like I’m eating a bigger meal.

    I find I can’t stock up on veggies and fruits because my province is an island…and well, let’s just say we get the “leftovers” in produce…and if you leave it for more than three days on your counter or in the fridge…you’ll be eating little green friends.

    Thanks for reminding me to stay focused and get cooking!

    Anonymous

    March 5, 2008

    Planning is another key to success! I plan the week’s dinners (and my lunches) on Saturday since Sunday is the shopping day. Like you, I pack my lunch and snacks from home. Tasty and inexpensive. (I’m also a college instructor)But, more than planning meals, you need back-up plans in case something (like life!) interferes! My back-up meals are individual frozen chicken breasts, Progresso soup, scrambled eggs. The going-out/take-out rut doesn’t work!
    Alinakaren (Slow & Steady)

    Kathy

    March 5, 2008

    My shopping is very similar to yours…fruits and veggies, fat-free dairy, lean proteins, and whole grains. I prepare all the veggies as soon as I get them so they don’t go uneaten. We always have an assortment of fresh fruit in a basket in plain view. I pre-cook oatmeal and have it in single serving portions ready to pop in the microwave for our breakfasts. I make extra portions of our favorite evening meals and freeze them for later. When I prepare rice or whole grain pasta, I always cook extra and freeze it in single serving portions. And we always have popcorn in both 100-calorie packs for me and low-fat regular bags for my husband.
    Probably the best thing we do though is eliminate all the things that might tempt us to overeat from the house. If we want something like ice cream, we go out and get it and eat it there. No leftovers and no after dinner raids!

    Angela

    March 5, 2008

    All your posts inspire me, Roni, and this one is no different. I’m a stay at home mom so I cook each day and then have something easy for lunch since it is just me and the boys or I may eat leftovers.

    I really like to cook and try new recipes. Twice a month (when we get paid) I make out a schedule of what we are going to eat each day and all the groceries I need to cook the recipes. I shop getting what I can get, which is mostly everything except fresh veggies for the later meals. I go to town (I live 35 minutes from a good grocery store) about twice a week to stock up on fresh fruit, veggies, milk, bread and any necessary snacks ;).

    I also like to buy the big bags of frozen chicken breasts. I know that even if I don’t have a REAL meal planned for a night I can just pull out a couple of chicken breasts to thaw and eat with veggies.

    sabrina

    March 5, 2008

    Are you prepared? Yes I can say that today and this week I am prepared. How do you get prepared? Like you I always go to the store on the week end and stock up on my veggeis and fruits and things like that, I buy meat in bulk so thats a once a month run to the farmers market. Then on Sunday nights I make a big salad that I dip into everyday for lunches and dinner and cut all the fruit up and portion it out. I also have to label things or my husband takes my portion and not his, then he’s hungry and I’ve eating to much. I pack lunches the night before, they are left overs or if I don’t have time or didn’t cook then I have a smartone. It’s alot of work losing weight and keeping it off. It’s funny that your question would be about perpackaged food. I just wrote blog about my MIL and Nutrasystem

    Scrumpy's Baker

    March 5, 2008

    The weeks I’m really “on” I do this:

    Spend some alone time on Saturday morning going through cookbooks and magazines, planning out dinners. I love to cook, so this is a fun activity. I’m totally OCD, so I make my list in the order that things appear in my favorite HEB.

    Then I plan breakfast and lunch for each day, thinking about dinner’s calories for that day. I love to have a good “non-diet” dinner and this method really helps.

    I go to the store Sunday mornings, it seems to be the least busy time. If I can help it, I don’t take the hubby because he’s always buying stuff that’s not on the list. :)

    I’m big on cutting recipes down. We’re not big left-over eaters and if there’s too much left over, we would probably just try to eat bigger dinner portions.

    Aimee H.

    March 5, 2008

    I also shop like you do and also try to do it on the weekend. I make lots of soups and try for plenty of veggies every night. I stock up on canned tomatoes, beans, fat-free-low-sodium chicken stock, frozen veggies and fruits. Then when you’re caught off guard (as I was last night!), there’s no excuse not to have a healthy meal. I accidently forgot to pull the meat out of my freezer for the stir fry I was going to make, so instead I pulled together some vegetarian minestrone soup and salad. But I definitely try to plan out my food for the day and bring healthy, nutritious choices that will give me fuel. I save money and calories!

    Rachel

    March 5, 2008

    oh man, I am soooo bad at planning. I live with my boyfriend and while we usually have enough fruits available, we have a hard time keeping veggies stocked. I find that if I dont’ have a specific meal planned, I won’t use the veggies and they go bad. Roni, I envy your ability to “cook on the fly” with what you have available! I guess that’s something that comes with experience!

    RunningNan

    March 5, 2008

    I’m not good at preparing.. I’m going to make that my goal for the next month. I was just talking about this to someone else. I never make my lunch at night, I never really think it through. I just grab stuff and out the door. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all fruits, whole grains and other healthy stuff, but I would like to be more prepared with it. I know I always end up hungry through out the day, and no matter how much I think I have, I’m never prepared.

    This is a good post, and it’s something I’ll be working on. Thanks!

    Kirsten

    March 5, 2008

    I make a huge pot of healthy soup every week. Either lentil or veggie or split pea. We eat on it all week and I always have something quick to grab

    JavaChick

    March 5, 2008

    My routine is pretty similar. Grocery shopping on the weekends. I usually will prepare something specifically to freeze for my work lunches – most often soups because I can pack in the veggies and they freeze & reheat very well. And I try to have a few things in the freezer for evening meals on busy nights – like pasta sauce, chili, or soup. It makes life so much easier when you can grab something from the freezer. And, picky eater that I am, I always prefer food I made myself because I know what’s in it.

    Candi

    March 5, 2008

    Wow Roni, This is too weird…The reason why I was logging onto your website this morning was to ask you a question regarding the pre-packaged meals ie…Lean Cuisine, Smartones ect. I usually eat a Lean Cuisine with a side salad or a cup of soup everyday for lunch. Now, I have been skeptical of the frozen meals because of the high sodium, but they are so easy to grab and go. That is what I wanted to ask you about, is it ok to eat those types of meals 4-5 times a week? I’d love to get into the routine of freezing leftovers, but growing up, my mom never froze anything, I mean she would stop by the grocery store every day after work to get meat for that night so nothing would be frozen. I really need to ask her about that, because now its scarred me into never freezing anything. But like you said, I waste alot of produce and my grocery bill is pretty high weekly. Im really going to try to break away from my “no freezing” state of mind, maybe I’ll start to see a bigger difference on the scale, since I wont be eating all that SODIUM. Thanks again for everything Roni.

    Candi http://blogs.weightwatchen.com/candicane123/

    michelly

    March 5, 2008

    I guess I’m fairly prepared. Could be better, could be worse! I wanted to tell you that I finally tried quinoa as a side dish to my dinner last night. I love it and can’t wait to try other recipes. I posted the recipe I used last night on my recipes tab of my blog. Thanks for encouraging me to try this new and wonderful whole grain!

    casmommy

    March 5, 2008

    Yes, I am prepared. I try to buy mostly “whole foods”: fresh fruits/veggies, meats, dairy(no, I don’t buy low-fat b/c I don’t like dealing w/ additives and I lost all my weight eating reg. I do aim for all natural though), basically anything found in the perimeter of the store. I make sure my cabinet is stocked full of spices, oils, vinegars, salts, and other seasonings. I find once you have those basics in your pantry, you can make almost anything! I am not a big casserole person, so I usually just prepare enough for me and my husband to eat that night, or if i make a big pot of soup or chilli, I freeze half for those days when I’m *not* prepared! I keep a few good cookbooks on hand and scour the internet for other recipes. Like you, I love to experiment and create new things! I caught Oprah yesterday too and thought it was fabulous! I don’t know if I could eat 11 lbs of fruits/veggies in a day though. Keep up the great work Roni!

    Dani Spies

    March 5, 2008

    Foe me the only way to be sure I am eating well all week long is to prepare! I tend to have my go-to items that I stock up and prep ahead every week…cut up veggies, steel cut oats, some type of grain, and some sort of lean protein (usually chicken or turkey). I also have my whole grain bread & tortillas, cereals, yogurt, and milk on hand…this way no matter what I always have a meal I can go to. Then from there, on the days when I have the time…I play around with more exciting meals and new ingredients!
    I think part of the trick is finding a handful of healthy meals and snacks that you like and being sure you always have them on hand!
    Great post Roni!

    Ms Bart

    March 5, 2008

    I do the same thing. I live alone and can’t often finish a big, healthy meal (or tire of it within the week). I portion it out and freeze it.

    An occasional Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice or WW meal is fine, but a steady diet of them, in my opinion, can’t be good for you.

    I love the previous posters suggestion of freezing portions of oatmeal. I’m totally going to try that next (the instant just isn’t as good).

    Kathy

    March 5, 2008

    Speaking of planning and preparedness, I saw this and had to forward it to you:

    http://oldladylincoln.blogspot.com/
    2008/03/brick-layers-misery.html

    Sandy

    March 5, 2008

    Roni–

    I usually sit down sometime on the weekend to plan my meals. As I am reading through your posts and checking out Green Lite Bites during the week I usually print off recipes so I am well-prepared for meal-planning on the weekend. I write my meal plans on the small post-it notes–one for each day–and put them above each individual day on the calendar. That way I can also plan around our schedule–quick meals for the days we get home late from soccer practice, school functions, etc., and meals with more preparation on the days we are home earlier. This system also makes easy to move meal plans around or save them for the next week if needed. I make a store list and go shopping–usually sometime on Sunday. I make sure I have either leftovers in the freezer or something very easy, quick, and also healthy in the freezer for the days that don’t go “as planned.” I make sure to include on my store list things that will be easy to grab for my lunches during the week. I usually eat frozen leftovers for lunch, or a combination healthy “grab and go” stuff I have on hand (yogurt, cheese & crackers, fruit, etc.) and I usually keep a couple of Smart Ones or Lien Cuisine on hand for those mornings when things just aren’t going well and I don’t have time to pack “right.” All in all it works pretty well. The problem I am having now is that my kids are getting older and are often, unexpectedly, away for dinner. Then I find myself thinking “I don’t feel like making the meal I planned for four for only just the two of us. Maybe we’ll go out…” I need to start planning for those scenarios as well.

    Thanks for asking and for your encouragement. Weightwatchen and Green Lite Bites give me enjoyment, time with friends and motivation every day!

    Sandy

    Sally

    March 5, 2008

    I also go to the grocery store every weekend and spend alot of money lol.. I usually spend about $100.00 a week on just myself.. I always wind up throwing alot away because i over buy. I buy alot of fruits and veggies and cook everything on sunday.. I cant freeze anything though because i live with my parents and theres no room.. I would be great if i could because i wouldnt have to throw so much away.
    When i skip shopping for one week i ALWAYS over eat.. I think planning and being prepared are the best things that you can do. I notice that if i dont plan my day out ahead of time i eat more.. If i have a list i stick to it!

    BonnieR325

    March 5, 2008

    When I started WW last August, I immediately gave up everything during the week except work, exercising at Curves and Weight Watchers, and began to scour the WW website searching for recipes, then began cooking and freezing. It was on the WW website that I found you, probably within my first month on WW, and I cook a LOT of your recipes.

    I knew that if I was going to be successul at weight loss and getting healthy, that I would need to devote a lot of time to it. So I began planning right from the start (in many of the same ways that you do), and I have been successful (62.6 pounds in 29 weeks; my 30th week weigh-in is tonight after work).

    I still plan a lot, but as I become accustomed to this lifestyle, the easier it becomes, and the less time I have to devote to it, however, I still do devote a lot of time. But it’s worth it! I am healthier, I feel wonderful, I am off one blood pressure medicine and will hopefully get off the other one soon. In my 30 weeks, I have never been unprepared and had to resort to eating something that was not on my plan. And it has become second nature to me now.

    Yes, planning is the key. Without it, I would be doomed.

    watchinmyweight

    March 5, 2008

    Wow that is a great question because when I am not prepared is when I really don’t make great food choices!

    I grocery shop every other week since I work every other weekend. I do buy Smart Ones and Lean Cuisines for work for those times I am in a big hurry for work.

    The veggies and fruits I am still trying to work on not letting any go bad. The kids go in spurts of eating a lot of fruit and then not so it’s hard to gauge that.

    I would like to start freezing what’s left of a meal but we are really good about eating them the next night.

    That is something I am definately going to work on being better prepared! :)

    Later Gator

    March 5, 2008

    I like the weekly question idea!

    To prepare, I go food shopping on the weekends and normally prepare several big meals, normally on Sundays. My pantry is stocked with couscous, quinoa, bulgar, broth, rice, pasta, beans, and olive oil. My fridge/freezer is stocked with frozen veggies and fruit, fresh fruit, yogurt, and milk.

    I don’t want to be a downer, but have you read about how plastic can leak toxins when microwaved? I tend to freeze my meals (i.e. chili) in bigger containers that I let thaw, and then put them in microwave-safe containers for lunch during the week. I got mine from Tupperware (I used to be a sales consultant.)

    BigTickles

    March 5, 2008

    Hey I just went to Aldi today. I was surprised at the fresh fruit and veggie selection. It was very nice, fresh and big. Anyhoo, I usually shop on Monday’s and plan the week’s menu from there. If I don’t, I feel like I am playing catch up all week and end up falling off the wagon.

    Krista

    March 5, 2008

    I feel that if I don’t prepare, I don’t do well. It also seems like the “scatteredness” (if that’s a word) spills over into other areas of my life. So, I do as you do, I stock up on fruits/veggies, meats, beans, tofu (I’m not much of a red meat eater), replenish staples, hit the lowfat/fatfree cheeses, milk, and yogurt. I always try to get organic if I can. I only do major shopping every couple of weeks just because the larger grocery stores are about 40 miles away. We only have a little market and it closes at 6:00 p.m. every day but Sunday when it’s closed up tight! So, I have to get very creative at the end of those two weeks. That’s when I usually go to the freezer for that hidden prize that will become dinner and then hit the pantry which always seems to have something I can use to create some kind of meal. Sometimes we eat breakfast for dinner, like an omelette, breakfast sammi, etc. If I can, I try to sit down and make a menu for the week to be sure I have what I need. Doesn’t alway happen but it’s the thought that counts, right?

    Kate

    March 5, 2008

    This is so true. What’s the old saying about not being prepared is being prepared to fail? I have a few things — I sit down and plan meals for the week every weekend. I stock up at the store on lunches and dinners and I have a pretty basic staples list.

    Before I went back to work after having my daughter, I compiled a cookbook of easy recipes (many low fat or healthy) that are a good starting point for ideas for weekday dinners, and I had it printed at Tastebook.com. That way either my husband or I can cook dinner.

    I always always have healthy snacks on hand — it’s so much easier to resist temptation if you have an alternative that’s on plan. Greek yogurt, fruits and vegetables, and organic snack bars are all necessary items in my pantry. I always pack my lunch for work and I always pack extra snacks too so I can resist the siren call of Starbucks and their evil evil pastries.

    kyree90

    March 5, 2008

    Planning ahead is one of my biggest downfalls. (When I don’t do it, I head straight for the drive-thru … and not for a nice, healthy salad!)

    I’ve been trying to do better this year, egged on my a New Year’s Resolution. Your recipes help. A couple of weeks ago, I made a pot of the sweet stuffed bell pepper soup, and it was fantastic!

    Why, oh why, is it so much easier to gain the weight than to lose it? It doesn’t take any planning at all to put on 20 pounds!

    Sonia

    March 5, 2008

    My baby is sick, my house always in disarray, nope, I never have the time to prepare, I work full time and have two toddlers, you all ladies sound like Wonder Woman to me. How can you do it all? Cook on the weekend? I hardly can keep up with the laundry and the house. I envy you all, I guess I lack the discipline, or routine. Oh Well, better stop complaining and keep trying, I guess if I get caught up and prepare I will be more organized.
    Good night,
    Sonia in Arizona

    coral

    March 6, 2008

    My husband and I try to be prepared for the week. Like most everyone has posted, we usually do a grocery run on our days off, which is during the week. We both work nights, me as a restaurant server, and him as a food runner, and usually don’t eat dinner until nearly 11pm. We usually don’t go to bed until 2am, but quick dinners are a necessity.

    We plan out our meals and shop accordingly. We don’t own a microwave either, so a lot of prep work is needed. Anything that takes more than 15 minutes to cook, we do the day before. That includes staples like grilled chicken and spaghetti squash (or any other veg we have to cook a while) and rice. We have time during the day to cut up any vegetables we might need to we can toss them in a pan to reheat. We bought a chest freezer to store things, though we haven’t been that good about cooking meals ahead. But we shop in bulk at Costco once a month, so all our meats, breads, well, anything, goes in there. I’ve started buying certain frozen vegetables (broccoli and green beans and edamame) so I have a quick side to any dish.

    My biggest problem is that we are both in such a food rut. We’re both doing WW, and we’re running out of ideas! He used to be a chef, but only knows how to cook with lots of fat. It’s been challenging coming up with new recipes that we both will agree on. When that happens, we start eating out, and while we make good choices most of the time, it’s still much higher in points and cost than cooking at home.

    Christy

    March 6, 2008

    I am prepared? Sad to say…Not this week. Normally I am, but this week I have kind of fallen off the wagon. I am not tracking all my foods like I should and I did not cook my lunches this weekend I like I should have. That left me with out a plan for lunch this whole week. I really need to get my act back together.

    Nomad Librarian

    March 6, 2008

    I plan pretty much the same way most people seem to; plan meals ahead, buy groceries, cook, use leftovers for lunch, etc. My biggest challenge is that I’m a newlywed, and I struggle to account for how much my husband eats, so I have fewer leftovers than I used to! Also, he packs an enormous lunch (actually two lunches!) every day, so that really cuts into my produce/leftovers…you would think I would learn to compensate, but it is so hard! I either end up wasting food or never having enough.

    Another way I prepare is to leave healthy snacks/backup lunches in the cupboards and freezer in the breakroom at work. Then when the munchies strike or I am dying to eat out for lunch, I have an on hand back up no matter how rushed I was that morning!

    Rebecca

    March 6, 2008

    I am feeling so prepared this week. On Monday I prepared 35 dinner recipes. It was a 12 hour event but I ended up with a freezer full of dinners. I am too cheap to go to one of those dinner club places so I have always done my own thing. I do a lot of chicken breast with different sauces and marinades. That way as they thaw they marinade and when I get home I can pop it on the grill or oven, add veggies and I have dinner ready. I also do casseroles and some crock pot things as well. I also shop once a week for the fresh stuff and make soup for lunches. I made a soup last weekend inspired by you. I kind of combined your lentil soup (I love it) and the tortilla soup together for a more protein filled soup. It turned out really good.

    I feel better when I have a plan. I have always been a planner I just make better choices now.

    Dee

    March 6, 2008

    Sonia, don’t worry, not everyone is a Wonder Woman! I am also a working mom and it’s very hard to prepare since – if you are like me – you are constantly running in a time deficit. There’s no me time on Saturday morning to choose recipes, it’s errands and birthday parties and playgrounds, with the grocery squeezed in there somewhere. I do try to cook something for the week on Sunday afternoon, but it doesn’t always work out.

    The way I prepare, though, is to look at my week’s schedule and know what I will eat. For instance, I’m going to a catered dinner on Friday so I called ahead to find out what the menu will be. I know I will eat low-sugar oatmeal that morning and a salad at lunch to counter balance the meal (which isn’t too bad). I figure I will use 3-5 weekly points on that day.

    Through it all, I remember that I can only do the best I can do. If I eat a frozen meal for lunch, that’s okay. Despite the processing, it’s better than taking my chances with the cafeteria across the street where I could get roped into a higher-point meal. And would spend more. I try to have veggies at every meal, but don’t beat myself up if sometimes it doesn’t work that way. My life has to be about all the parts, not just eating, so I have to make everything fit in and work together the best way it can.