Saturday, February 28, 2009

Building a Healthy Nest, Part I

One of our New Year's resolutions* was to improve our diets and increase our level of physical activity. As March approaches, I'm pleased to announce to the world that we've done a decent job of sticking to our new commitments. G has moved down one notch on his belt buckle and my jeans are a little easier to put on the first time after they've been washed.

How have we done it? Today, I'll tell you about our new approach to eating. Tomorrow, I'll fill you in on our new exercise routines.

Every Thursday, I map out a menu for the following week. I plan all of the meals - breakfast, lunch and dinner - for both of us. Our mornings start with a good, fiber-filled breakfast. We're big fans of Fiber One cereals and granola bars. We usually have a glass of orange juice and split a banana, too. If we don't have Fiber One, we'll have oatmeal or multi-grain waffles and fruit. We pack G's lunch (which has saved us a ton of money!), which is almost always comprised of a sandwich (tuna, egg salad, turkey, ham or peanut butter), yogurt, carrots and cookies. He gets free milk at work. My lunch is usually similar to his, but often I finish our leftovers during my lunch break. Our evening meals are almost always cooked from scratch - we've done a good job of avoiding processed foods (and after watching this film, corn-based products). We eat chicken two to three times a week and have all but eliminated the amount of red meat we eat (I acknowledge this is a sacrifice for my husband, but he's also been good about acknowledging that less red meat isn't necessarily a bad thing). We also eat a rather impressive amount of vegetables. I should note I plan six evening meals. Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, I cook. Monday, Wednesday and Friday/Saturday, we eat leftovers. We leave one evening meal "open" in case something comes up. If nothing does, I can usually find enough ingredients to put something together.

In addition to reducing our calorie intake and upping the healthiness of our diets, there are two awesome perks to our new approach to meals:

1. We've drastically reduced our grocery bill. I only buy the ingredients necessary to make the meals I planned for the week and because all of our meals are planned in advance, I don't have to spend time standing in each aisle hemming and hawing over what we need. I'm now a grocery power shopper. Give me my list and I'm in and out in 20 minutes. We've knocked our weekly bill down as low as $42. It hasn't been higher than $55 for the past 5 weeks - and yes, our groceries are mostly organic and non-processed foods and cover approximately 18 -21 meals (and snacks). I'm proud.

2. I'm fairly confident we'll be able to continue mapping our meals. I spend minimal time in the kitchen on weeknights and we eat well. When I was employed full-time, we cut corners when we ate (lots of pre-packaged meals, processed foods, trips to restaurants). I'm hopeful we won't have to go back to our old ways . . . especially since I gained 22 pounds the year I wasn't working at home.

*It's really best to share resolutions, isn't it? It gives us a little more motivation to stick to them. We're really good about holding each other accountable.

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